The Open Your Eyes Cloud Dance Festival was a cornucopia of choreographic experimentation and dance innovation – a showcase of dedicated artists growing in their already acclaimed accomplishments. Hannah and Becky Martin really slung it out in mdance’s The Details in our Fabrics. An intense, confrontational pas de deux for two female dancers paid testament to the Martins’ strength, control of line and vigour of movement, individually and in tandem. As intended, the work explored where boundaries lie, and where they are blurred. Mdance seeks to evoke thought and feeling in their audience and in their dancers – in this, The Details in our Fabrics was abundantly successful.

Raymond Tait’s I Carry your Heart would, in my view, win the ‘blue ribbon’ for inventive and integrative choreography, choreography that also conveys the experience of individuals’ relationship to each other and dance’s love affair with music. The two female ‘protagonists’ are both accomplished dancers and were a joy to behold – fluid, expressive movement coupled with technical precision – a real dialogue of ‘the goddess’. The Costumes, staging and Debussy(?) score enhanced the performance with exotic ambience.

Choreographer Lizzi Giles’ ‘Accented’ is an innovative approach, not merely to dance, but to the power of collective movement. It is good to experience a choreographer growing from her own geographical roots: where else in the world does dialect alter every ten miles? This dance troupe were perfectly cohesive as they expressed movement arising out of the rhythmns of accent. The soundtrack kept the pulse rhythm and with each repetition the movement swelled to greater complexity. The dancers were focused and, with mask like uniformity of their faces, kept the attention on the body and how they related, through movement to each other.

Another exponent of the power of pure physicality was Dorit Schwartz’s Apple of my Eye, referencing Schwartz’s accomplishments at Salzberg’s Experimental Academy of Dance. Dancers Schwartz and Tracy Zanelli produced evocative ‘don’t mess with me’ rough and tumble. Emotions expressed through the dance were uncompromisingly ‘raw’ at times – then the choreography calmed into fluidity. You never knew what was coming next, rendering the dance dialogue between the two dancers consistently engaging.

The recently born Diciembre Dance Group brought energy and collaboration between art forms to the stage in their piece, Anthem:Absence. The Latin poetry of Mario Benedetti literally ‘footnoted’ the dance performance, which paid ample tribute to the expression of social issues. There was a poignant narrative undercurrent to the performances of all three dancers – who were strong and expressive - and included the choreographer of the piece Lucía Piquero. Their iconic moves were often reminiscent of the veritas of Martha Graham The future work of this creative, collaborative group should prove startling.

Kasper Hansen and Sam Coren’s Intrepid Exploring provided a humourous pinnacle of meaningful entertainment. The piece is a sparkling distillation of circus, theatre, film and intellectual piquant. Full of wit and brio, dancer Moreno Solinas is a ‘natural’, a performer whose comic gift leapt across the footlights with every flick of his matador’s cloak. Sam Coren’s concept is a serious one and Ben Coren’s script, projected in between vignettes, grounds the piece in its significant social questioning. Each ‘retake’ rings the changes of the performed discussion. A highlight of the repertoire.

Lila Dance’s Tracker was nothing short of astonishing and I echo praise for the ‘dynamic intelligence’ commended by Times critic Donald Hutera. The choreography rivets with the movement of complication alternating with the free momentum of a swing boat. Every sinew in each of the four dancers was attuned to this tension and flow. Commanding to watch up close, the choreography creates meaningful patterns when viewed from a distance. Both perspectives are highly satisfying.

Kerry Biggin’s performance of Dena Lague’s stylish, Just Take Five, was iconic and fresh. It is not always easy to evoke subtlety in pure dance, but Biggin succeeded in portraying the nuance of character that gives the choregraphy of this piece its vitality. An accomplished dancer, and a clear professional, Biggin was winsome, melancholy, and witty, in turn. A little jewel – and great expectations from this collaboration are bound to be met in future.

Reviewed by Rebecca Robinson for Cloud Dance Festival