Geoffrey Burgon Dance – Bob Cohan’s 90th Celebration

I attended Bob Cohan’s 90th Celebration at The Place last Friday, March 27th. The man who has been described as ‘the forefather of British contemporary dance’ was a member of Martha Graham’s company for more than ten years, and taught at the Martha Graham School in New York. When, in 1967, he became the Artistic Director of London Contemporary Dance Theatre (based, from 1969 until its demise in 1994, at The Place). Bob was drawn to Geoffrey’s music early in his career and included Canciones del Alma, the work that he choreographed, in the celebration.

I will be posting film footage of Bob Cohan in the next weeks as he is a fascinating man and I understand how both he and Geoffrey worked so well together.

If Yolande Yorke-Edgell had appeared slightly uncertain as one of the dancers in the Lingua Francaquartet, her solo performance in Cohan’s Canciones del Alma (1978) helped make it the strongest work of the evening. Dressed in a long, full skirt like those Martha Graham used to wear, the dancer turned negative space positive by encircling it with her arms, or by taking quick, short, sideways steps through it. In the third section of the piece, the movement becomes more sweeping. The dancer extends both legs to slide herself to the floor. In her backward run on the diagonal from the front of the stage, with arms stretching out to the place just left, she resembles Isadora Duncan as described by Frederick Ashton and Edwin Denby. Yolande Yorke-Edgell  made this dance her own and I was very taken by her perforance on this evening.