THE OPENING moment of serenity in James Wilton Dance’s one-act Leviathan – where a white-clad female form lies face up and blows a mist of water skyward – swiftly gives way to unstinting ensemble sequences where roustabout testosterone leaps, spins and surges through every move the five men deliver at speed. Only one, however, can be master here, and – taking cues from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick – that man is Ahab, whose obsessive pursuit of a Great White Whale becomes an offence against nature and mankind alike.
You could also read a degree of male chauvinism into how Ahab (Wilton himself) seeks to destroy the woman who wounded him and then got away. But however you choose to read Wilton’s choreography, there is a refreshing and impressive expanse of inventive dance, and staging, to enjoy. Strongly atmospheric music, by Lunatic Soul, sets moods and locations while the heavy hawsers that frequently criss-cross the stage are a visual reminder of how Ahab is trapped in a neurotic mesh of his own making. Long before the end, even his own crew look like white whales to him, whereupon they join the exquisitely graceful Sarah Jane Taylor in swooping through imaginery billows, backs arching in a synchronicity that, like their earlier energised vocabulary of breakdance, capoeira and contemporary movement, is full of thrilling precision and athletic finesse.