As the piece begins, the audience are introduced to two dancers – Maddy and Nathan. We’re told that this unusual couple have hooked up but never dated. When they dance together they have fantastic chemistry, but are yet to truly define their relationship. The Date takes these two dancers on a an experimental journey to see what might happen when these two go on a series of structured dates. As the piece progresses we’re shown video footage of their dates and revealing personal interviews about how they feel about one another, all accompanied by contemporary dance. It feels like a reality TV show on stage. As the piece draws to a close we’re left to wonder what the future holds for their complex relationship and how the voyeuristic performance itself has affected the way they feel about each other. There are some really beautiful moments of physical theatre in this performance that left the audience mesmerised. The piece was also genuinely funny with some great laugh out loud moments. There was also a fantastic indie rock soundtrack accompanying the overall creative and high-tech production. Rhiannon Faith:Dancing Theatre are definitely one to watch. The Date has now drawn to a close, but Rhiannon and Maddy are currently performing and touring the latest work Scary Shit, a look at how humans can overcome their most inner fears. You can follow this exciting company on their Facebook page or over on Twitter. Have you been to see The Date or planning on watching Scary Shit on tour? Let me know what you thought in the comments below. Happy Dancing!
Last Tuesday I was treated to my first birthday surprise. I woke in the morning to be told by my fiancé that we would be going to London and to be ready for 5pm. I was excited to find out what it would be for the whole day. The only thing I could think of that was on in London that day was Romeo and Juliet, in the round at The Royal Albert Hall with my favourite dancers Carlos Acosta and Tamara Rojo. We met at the train station only to be greeted with the news that there was no trains going past Chelmsford because there was a broken carriage on the line. After an epic journey consisting of train, car journey, train again and then finishing with underground we arrived half an hour late for the performance.Yes, my fiancé didn’t confirm that it was indeed Romeo and Juliet we were seeing until we were almost outside the venue and tears soon rolled down my face because well I love ballet and watching these two dancers was something that I had wanted to do for years. We were just in time to watch Carlos and Tamara do the balcony pas de deux, an immensely powerful duet full of love, lifts and strength and we viewed it on the late comers TV in the foyer. Being a performance in the round meant that the cast made up of 120 dancers were using the main exits for their entrances. I soon spotted a few well known dancers including junior soloists Max Westwell and Carlos’ nephew Yonah Acosta walking down past us to the backstage area. This soon had me wondering if the man himself would be walking the same way. I was right, soon enough Carlos Acosta fresh from the dancing on the enormous stage of the Royal Albert Hall walked straight past to applause from me and the other late comers in the area. This was definitely a birthday performance I wouldn’t forget in a hurry and I have to say probably made my night without even seeing the performance live. It was worth all those hours travelling to the venue and being slightly late. After the first break which seemed like hours we made it to our seats to watch the second and third instalments of one of the most famous love stories that ever was. The stage was wonderfully big, the live orchestra was huge and glorious to hear, the group dances and patterns amazing. You could see that every performer was enjoying the buzz of dancing at such an amazing venue as the Royal Albert Hall and seeing Yonah Acosta dancing Mercutio opposite Carlos Acosta’s Romeo really was special for me. You could also see that Yonah and Carlos were working off each others stunning movement and were egging each other to dance better, every jump higher, every turn more fluid and not just because of the characters they were playing. With this in mind, you could really see Yonah Acosta showing great potential. I can see him rising through the ranks to principal quickly like his uncle. It was lovely to see Artistic Director and principal dancer Tamara Rojo and guest artist Carlos Acosta dancing together. To be partnering each other at the ENB seems like it was like going home for these guys because this is a partnership that started when they were both young at the English National Ballet. Tamara Rojo was also the original Juliet when Derek Deane, Tamara’s Artist director predecessor choreographed this version of the Ballet in the round in 1998 when she was just a younger dancer. Carlos and Tamara’s beautiful movement as Romeo and Juliet that night made me emotional as they danced as one, their chemistry, story and acting looked so real. Tamara Rojo and Carlos Acosta really lived up to expectation for me and I’m glad I got to see them perform.
Rough Cuts performances are a rare opportunity for audiences to watch a piece in an intimate setting while it’s still a work in progress. Dance East allows resident choreographers the chance to use their facilities, showcase and test-drive work before its completion. The Rough Cuts format also includes a Q&A session at the end of the performance, allowing the choreographer to get direct feedback from the audience on their unpolished piece. The evening’s performance is choreographed by multiple award-winner Marc Brew, a classical and contemporary-trained dancer who has had his own established company since 2001. Fusional Fragments is the culmination of a year-long collaboration with renowned percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie and composer Phillip Sheppard. It is also a commission by Unlimited to celebrate the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. With the help of five dancers with incredible strength and skill, Marc Brew Company uses Fusional Fragments to explore whether ballet and contemporary dance should mould together or whether they should stay eternally fragmented. The distinct movement vocabulary of Marc Brew is hypnotizing. It drags the audience into the intricate yet quirky folding and unfolding balletic lines and movement. The partnerwork in the duets and trios demand to be watched. A highlight was the dynamic performance lighting of Andy Hamer throughout the piece. At the beginning of the performance, it seemed as though the live sounds of Dame Evelyn Glennie were being initiated by the movements of the dancer breaking the fragments of light projected on the stage. The finale was exceptionally beautiful, with three dancers onstage in a kaleidoscope of light, completely surrounding the audience and making them feel like they were part of the of the lyrical and coherent performance. After a year in the making, all of the elements for Fusional Fragments finally came together for this preview: it was like magic happening in front of my eyes. Fusional Fragments will be performed at the South Bank Centre August 31st. You will be missing out if you don’t go and see it.
Dance East often offers short residencies to talented emerging companies, allowing them to explore and work on new material. James Cousins Dance was recently offered such an opportunity. Choreographer James Cousins recently won the first New Adventures Choreographer Award, offering him valuable mentoring from Matthew Bourne who has described James as ‘one of the UK’s most promising choreographic talents’, and audiences around the country are inclined to agree. The dance series Rough Cuts at Dance East showcased his latest work in the early stages of the development process. A very small but very knowledgeable dance audience was in for a treat when James Cousins Dance performed an early draft of There We Have Been; the finished work will be performed at Sadler’s Wells in the autumn. There We Have Been is based on the Japanese novel Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, and explores the unconventional relationship between the two main characters, portrayed by Aaron Vickers and Lisa Welham, using beautiful contact work. There We Have Been also shows an amazing display of strength and balance as the two wrap and fold around each other, with Aaron keeping Lisa off the floor for the full 20 minutes of the performance – an incredible feat! It’s difficult to pick a highlight as the whole performance was filled with beautiful moments but the contrast between the smooth delicate movements, clear lines and the fast breathcatching moments as Lisa was caught just before touching the ground was a perfect juxtaposition of movement. The post-show Question and Answer session identified small areas which need further work, such as a costume malfunction experienced by Lisa. It also allowed the audience to reflect on the work, and many wanted to see the piece again straight away because it felt like history was being made. This performance has to be seen to be believed, so book your seats for the full performance of this work at Sadler’s Wells on September 7th while tickets are still available.
Nestled in the belly of the purple cow on the banks of the River Thames, a Cuban party was in full swing offering rum shots, dancing and audience participation. The UK dance scene has been bursting with Cuban flavour lately with companies such as Ballet Revolución and Danza Contemporánea de Cuba turning up the heat. E4?s Udderbelly Festival saw the sounds and rhythm of Havana Rumba light up the South Bank with tastes of salsa, mambo, cha cha cha, reggaeton and rakatan. Havana Rumba was written and directed by internationally-acclaimed and award-winning Toby Gough. Gough also wrote and directed the internationally-renowned Lady Salsa, which was staged in the West End for two years. Havana Rumba is his second show to hit the E4 Udderbelly Festival after Brazil! Brazil! headlined the festival in 2010 with a bang. “Rumba tells a story,” said Leo Almaguer, the lead singer of the house band, as Havana Rumba offered us a quick history lesson of Cuban dance. The Kings of Cuban Dance had acrobatic male dancers and their gorgeous female counterparts provided both visuals and humour. The sensual sounds and raucous beats were provided by Sonora La Calle, Cuba’s infamous salsa band with guest appearance from Juventino ‘El Chico Divino’ from Cuba’s super-group Charanga Habanera. Highlights of the performance included the cheeky tricks and acrobatics of one of Cuba’s top dancers, veteran Eric Turro Martinez, aka El Maestro and his incredible salsa moves with three female dancers. The tunes made you want to get up on stage and join the professionals, and they certainly catered for our needs with a little audience participation towards the end, using a simple dance routine which would make Ricky Martín proud. Rumba really is the people’s dance so get up and boogie your way to the Udderbelly Festival. This is the way to the party!
A woman in black appears onstage, walks to the microphone and instructs the lights to come on and the performance to start. A second woman dressed in a short nude-coloured underwearlike dress, hair slicked back in a tight bun and black heels walks model-like onto the stage and around the large diamond-shaped catwalk which is stuck to the floor with tape. Two other women follow and line up behind the bottles of water that have been put into a line to the left of the lady in black at the microphone. It is clear, this is going to be a performance to remember but will it be for the right reasons? Choreographers Argentine Mariana Lucia Marquez and French Emma Zangs met during Laban’s MA Choreography course and have regularly worked together ever since, including recently choreographing Cherry Bloom’s new music video for MTV. They are recognised for pushing the boundaries and stripping back material to its bare bones. Unfashion explores the life and tribulations of models. How they move, how they stand, and with Marquez and Zangs unravelling the rules or idioms which they live by. This is done by giving the performers instructions and directions and closing the space down to two small triangles and a tiny square for the performers to manoeuver in. The piece is full of small moments where that could be reflected on either comedy or sad realistic ideals especially as you see the models and their makeup begin to melt in the heat of the lights. The audience – almost a full house in the small surrounds of The Hub – seemed to love this performance. It soon became clear, however, that the audience contained dance students and recent graduates. Unfashioned is definitely meant for diehard dance enthusiasts who love minimal experimentalism. If this is you, you are sure to love it.
In the gorgeous underground surroundings of the The Hub at the Roundhouse, the lights came up on two dancers sitting with their knees up before tipping into a fetal position and slowly moving in a clockwork motion. CODA Dance was formed in 2010 by London-based choreographer Nikki Watson, a graduate of Roehampton University. Since their formation they have performed at Platform AD and Resolution! at The Place. You Remind Me of Someone I Once Knew is the fourth piece from CODA Dance and tells the story of a daughter dealing her mother’s diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. The linear performance depicts the stages of grief: for example denial, anger and bargaining, from different characters’ perspectives. The CODA dancers Kimberly Collins and Georgia-Leigh Godfrey presented a caring and moving portrayal of their characters. Standout moments included the use of different directions, the contact work in the duets, and the combination of fast moments followed by intimate moments. A really lovely scene involved one dancer tracing the footsteps of the other while she was moving on the floor. Perhaps in telling us the theme of the story prior to the performance performance, I expected a clearer narrative to unfold, and I found myself looking for the five stages of grief. There were sections of the piece which could have been explored more but this could have been down to it only being 15 minutes long. In conclusion, the dancers have a very strong connection and the choreography is beautiful: CODA Dance is definitely a company to watch!
Aracaladanza, the critically-acclaimed Madrid-based dance company, brought their touring performance of Clouds, known in Spanish as Nubes, to Jerwood Dance House in Ipswich this week. Co-commissioned by Dance East and Sadler’s Wells, Clouds is a family show inspired by the works of the Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte directed by award-winning Argentinean choreographer Enrique Cabrera. It forms one third of a trilogy of pieces taking influence from visual artists El Bosco, Magritte and Miró. The performance was a surreal and energetic display of contemporary dance bursting with quirky imagery, the narrative playing out like a symmetrical dream. The piece began with box-shaped miniature houses piled up in the centre of the stage. Lit up in unison, they were individually taken off the stage by dancers dressed in over-sized jackets. One lonely house remained in the spotlight until a small fluffy cloud appeared. The black backdrop fell and the performance began. Aracaladanza danced with a multitude of clouds, ranging in size, shape and texture. The clouds weren’t limited to physical props: animated depictions were also projected onto the cloth at the rear of the stage. The excitement of the performance gradually built with costumes, characters and the tactile props becoming more bizarre, exuberant and inspiring as the piece progressed. A mixture of contemporary dance, contact and circus were on display to the attendees. Clouds treated the audience to a combination of both video and live performance in the same time and space. Duets and group dances were filled with comedy, and some solo pieces displayed a Martha Graham influence. Highlights included a group of faceless men in suits, dancing in an simplistic manner juxtaposed to a chaotic and playful theme tune, mischievous use of dancers’ shadows and the illusion of plastic rain falling upon the stage. Despite the energetic pace and creative theme, Clouds left me feeling like the performance was playing it safe overall. I felt that the surreal theme could have been pushed more, and that in trying to appeal to all ages Aracaladanza’s show lacked an edge from an adult’s perspective. That said, overall, Clouds is a wonderful offering of family entertainment and the young audience soaked in every minute of the unusual fun. I recommend you go to the next viewing, it will brighten your day.
While the rain hammered down on a grey and dismal evening in London, the Peacock Theatre came alive with the fresh beats of the Ballet With Attitude. Ballet Revolución took the audience back to the roots and traditions of Cuban dance with a celebration of dance and soon had everyone dancing in their seats with wide smiles on their face for the two hours they performed. Ballet Revolución is comprised of young versatile talent that has emerged from the two most prestigious Cuban Conservatories. Cleverly choreographed by the multi-talented duo Aaron Cash and Roclan Gonzalez Chavez, it showcases an impressive plethora of dance styles and techniques such as hiphop, street, breakdancing, contemporary, ballet and Cuban traditional dance to name but a few. From the minute the curtain went up, the atmosphere was electric. There was an eclectic mixture of live music played by the talented musicians including Luis Palacios Galvez, a genius on congas. The music ranged from Ricky Martin’s Livin’ la vida loca, Beyonce’s Single Ladies, Usher’s DJ got us falling in love again, Gotan Project and much more. Every movement was a highlight, from the intricate high jumps, back flips and death-defying lifts to the comedy sections which filled the auditorium with laughter and fun and the pure passion for the movement and music oozing from the dancers. The biggest highlight for many was the chair dance with two couples which was almost like watching the two styles of contemporary and ballet up against each other: a routine which started with two identical duets, which then continued and illustrated the differences and similarities of movement in the styles used. Ballet Revolución is definitely a performance to remember, with amazing dancing, singing and tunes. Listen to the audiences with their standing ovations: book tickets now and see this outstanding show.