Donuts review – in sync with the delicate dynamics of friendship | Dance

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The programme notes for Jamaal Burkmar’s new show quote scenes from Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Scrubs and The Office, a taster of the 90s and 00s sitcoms that inspired Donuts. There is no laugh track or wordy jokes here, but there is something warm, fun and very watchable.

It’s based around three friends, sitting around at home. They play and tease, riffing off one another in choreography that is thoroughly conversational. They are dancing directly to each other, as if saying: “Hey, look at this! Did you know that?” Specific gestures sometimes take the place of words. It’s very well observed, the delicate dynamics of friendship and the way interactions happen, how energy moves around a group and we mirror people as we connect with them.

Like a singer performing in a register close to their own speaking voice, the dancers, certainly at first, are close to their natural bodies. Burkmar ups the intensity later on, fusing funk styles with contemporary dance in a distinctive language, finding some nifty formulations of steps.

Maya Carroll and Dorna Ashory.
Nifty formulations … Maya Carroll and Dorna Ashory. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

At first this dance is Seinfeldian, in that it’s about nothing much. It mostly revolves around the myriad ways you can reconfigure yourselves on the sofa (Burkmar’s got to be first choice for the next John Lewis furniture ad). But some light drama and jeopardy creep in and the stakes are mildly raised, all hinging on the great rapport between the switched-on dancers, Maya Carroll, Iolanda Portogallo and Dorna Ashory. The jazz-funk soundtrack by Dutch producer Jameszoo is fabulous, the bodies speaking in sync with its noodling melodies. With an original voice and feelgood, accessible choreography, Donuts suggests Burkmar could go far.



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