Irish step-dancer Colin Dunne was holder of three championship titles by the age of 10 and, in 1995, became Michael Flatley's replacement star in Riverdance. His new solo show, however, displays a love-hate relationship with the dance that made him famous.
Out of Time is basically an interrogation of the style and culture of Irish dance. In some of his material, Dunne focuses purely on the steps, deconstructing them into basics or reconfiguring them into new possibilities. One of the most fascinating sections has him executing his trademark moves with bare feet, his footfall so eerily soft that his superfast shuffles and taps, his springing jumps and neatly slicing kicks acquire an unexpectedly sensuous beauty.
Equally absorbing are the sections where Dunne juxtaposes his own dancing with film footage of his ancestors, including a quartet of middle-aged men in Sunday suits, their arms stiffly by their side as their feet perform independent miracles of dexterity. These snapshots from history are inevitably touching, but Dunne, who also intercuts his movements with a fierce commentary, makes it clear that there is a dark, constricting side to Irish dance. This is a form known less for its expressive richness than for the breaking of speed records (currently 38 taps per second) And it's significant that the only music to which Dunne dances is his own rhythmic chant: "How do we do that and why do we do that?"
There is no self pity in his performance. But there is anger and it goes into some odd places, especially in one over-long section where Dunne's deconstructed steps peter out into abstract doodles - not so much dance as white noise. This show has moments of revelation and power, for Dunne is a fine performer with an interesting history. But it is definitely not one for the Riverdance fanclub.
Review by Judith Mackrell