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Performance Performance Reviews

Emily Hearts Havana Rumba

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!

Performance Performance Reviews

Emily Hearts Accidental Festival at The RoundHouse, Camden.

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.

Performance Performance Reviews

Emily Hearts Coda Dance

    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!

Performance Performance Reviews

Emily Hearts Aracaladanza' Clouds.

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.

Performance Performance Reviews

Emily Hearts Ballet Revolucion

  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.

Performance Performance Reviews

Emily Hearts Jasmin Vardimon's Justitia.

  After the success of ‘7734’ last year, Israeli-born choreographer, director and performer Jasmin Vardimon brought her company back to Jerwood Dance House in Ipswich on Saturday evening to perform Justitia. Jasmin Vardimon’s performances  have always been based upon interesting, groundbreaking subjects which tug at your heart strings.Justitia is no exception. Named after the Latin word for ‘Lady Justice’, this 2009 creation takes the audience on a journey that pits us as judge, jury and executioner in the case of ‘Seth Vs Mimi’. Justitia grabs the audience’s attention from the start with movement from the typist at her desk on the smoke-filled revolving stage. The strong narrative was intriguing from the start and the performance began with the story of how Mimi met her husband Charlie.  A delicate and beautiful duet by the two included a Kazakh rug which eventually became Mimi’s wedding dress. The masculine but humorous fight dance of Seth and Charlie flying around the stage performing jumps over a sofa had audience members roaring with laughter but glued to the exciting action that Vardimon had created, with help from the eclectic mix of music ranging from the haunting sounds of Yoko Ono to the electronic beats of Aphex Twin. The action then jumps forward to Charlie going out to buy beer to further fuel the shenanigans. When he returns home, he discovers Seth lying dead on the floor with the only witness and suspect, Mimi. The performance then abruptly switches tone as Vardimon makes you question whether Mimi might have done the unthinkable. Mimi’s defence lawyer then takes you through the different sets, perspectives and scenarios that might have occurred. Each is more harrowing than the last, and eventually after a maze of intertwining tales, the performance finally unveils ‘the truth’. This narrative expresses that one crazy adverse moment in time can lead to a lifetime of regret and guilt, and there were a few red and shocked faces for those of the audience members that weren’t expecting the nudity and scenes of a sexual nature. Each individual performer was uniquely excellent. With dramatic knee movements, hip-hop freezes, breakdancing and energetic contemporary physical theatre, Justitia was both physically and mentally demanding on the audience and the performers. This was truly a performance that I didn’t want to end.


Performance Performance Reviews

Emily Hearts My Rhiannon Faith O'Brien Interview on CDF Blog!

Rhiannon Faith:Dancing Theatre. This up-and-coming company has performed two well-received works at The Place’s Resolution! in 2010 and 2011 with ‘Love Kills‘ and ‘Love my Bones‘, and now they have given us another fantastic piece to remember with ‘Golden Bohemian‘. Rhiannon Faith O’Brien, Artistic Director talks to me about her dance background, being a De Montfort University graduate, what was behind the Golden Bohemian and much much more. Tell me about your dance background. It all started when I was 16, I was in a college which was full of experimentation and interdisciplinary work, and we were introduced to cool dance groups from the start. We met people like Franko B, and the physical theatre company Earthfall came to the college. To start with I didn’t think of myself as dancer, I had done a bit of training but I guess I thought of myself an actor. Throughout the course my teacher was really encouraging and said that I really had natural ability as a dancer and it went from there. There was a lot of input and various creative companies were sharing our space. Then when I went to university it was the same ethos, the same kind of course and it helped carry that understanding of contemporary work. It was all very new, very experimental and it really allowed my imagination to go anywhere it wanted. At University I had much the same experience. I had excellent dance and drama teachers who taught me about practitioners who I might not have otherwise seen. The course engaged me with different types of work, for example European dance theatre and the contemporary scene. Some of it I liked, some of it I didn’t, and from there I formed opinions of what it was that I wanted to do myself as a practitioner. I always wanted to have the opportunity to create my own work and university helped me with that. I did my MA in contemporary dance theatre practice, and I was very lucky to have very inspirational people who guided me. I found who I was and it made me the best that I could possibly be. Who are the practitioners that you’re interested in? Who or what are your inspirations? During the last year of my degree I went to Belgium and I took part in some workshops. De Keersmaeker was a big inspiration, I loved the energy with the dancers, the gestural movement and the way she created the choreography. I learned a lot about Pina Bausch in European Studies and we learned about emotive choreography, about the narratives, how the dancers can speak so much with their bodies. I love how they can have an impact on the emotions of an audience through storytelling. She’s always been a very powerful person for me. Where the idea for the piece come from? In the last couple of years I’ve been working with dancers who  are completely dedicated to everything that I have done, so the idea for this piece came from just working with all of my dancers.  Whatever I have asked of them, they have given me 100% but they are also doing it for free. The reason they’re with me is because we’re like a family. We give each other so much, new ideas and encouragement, we are living through this scene at the moment where it is really hard for them, and it’s hard for me as a choreographer. We put some work on at The Place and the reviews were really cool. You get lucky and you can get gigs where can put your work on, thats really great. Other times you’re asked to change your creative outlook to suit a certain environment and that’s not something I’m cool with.  I want to do what I have the capacity to do and the dancers, they can do everything. Seeing how they were kind of fed up with society, how it was treating them, how hard it is for them just made me push into this idea that they are great. There are so many artists that are around here that are so good at what they do, visual artists, live musicians, actors, dancers. They live this life non-stop. The dancers learn their skills but a lot of time don’t have the opportunities to use them. We thought “fuck it, let’s make our own opportunity. Let’s make our own scene” and that’s where this piece came from. We wanted a renaissance of art, a kind of revolution of thinking that gave people passion, love and happiness. We’ve been rehearsing since November, the dancers have worked really hard to get this together. I only see them once a week because thats all I could afford space-wise. The dancers should be doing this full time, I should be doing this full time and that’s what we are working towards. That’s the journey we are taking together. Let’s make an uprising while we’re doing it. Talk me though your choreographic process for the piece. I know the dancers very well, I asked them to tell me about how they feel. It’s very autobiographical from the dancers point of view. In our rehearsals I create test space work, I do rep with them and we work with a narrative. We’ve always worked with a theme in hand to bring ideas from. For this piece we chose to look at the transition from the golden age of the 1920s to where we are today, and explore the similarities. People in the next decade will look back and they could say “yeah, there was something really cool happening then”. The narrative came from the characters that we started with in the first act. We worked with our knowledge of them and created movement there. The piece starts with a lot of  very gestural and pedestrian movement then moves into something more as they progress through the piece. It’s movement that really works to the music that was happening in the space. The live music and the dancers’ energy combine, and we looked at how that made them feel, particularly outside of rehearsals, and that was brought into the dance. A lot of the creation of the movement came from that passion. It was really important for me during auditions to get people that we knew were into this idea of creating a bohemian scene. I wanted dancers and actors that really liked this type of music. I wanted the passion of the dance and music to come out in the piece when we worked with the live bands and I wanted the dancers and actors to transform. I felt like if they really liked the music it would make the whole process easier. So what’s next? I would love for this to become quite a regular thing. Looking at different spaces, working with different bands. Although for me it’s really about the dance, it’s also recognising that a lot of the artists here are from very different genres of performance. We’re completely merging into this scene, it’s not just dance, it’s the art, it’s the live bands, it’s the actors. The uprising can’t happen in a night, and what is the uprising? It’s about people and artists getting together and saying “yeah, we can do this and we want people to join us and to be with us”. So maybe the future is to have similar nights, working with different narratives, a different theme each time we do it. Then I can start a different journey with the dancers. I just want to put it around as much as we can in London and get people to join us. This is our first event and it has gone pretty well. It was also completely self-funded, so funding is something we would look into for the future. With funding we could look into different spaces, bigger spaces, bigger audiences and add more detail. We have to learn from what has happened in the space tonight and make it even better and bigger. It’s happening.  

Performance Performance Reviews

Emily Hearts Rhiannon Faith:Dancingtheatre

From the moment that I arrived in the the 4th floor studio rooms, it felt like I had stepped back in time and walked straight into a 1920’s bohemian uprising. Actors and actresses met me at the door and were stationed on each level of the stairs until I reached the main venue. Once inside I noticed the amazing artwork by Merlyn Griffiths and 10 Artists/10 Pubs adorned upon the walls. There was a stall selling 1920s memorabilia and many actors dressed in 1920s Sophie Harris outfits mingling with audience members and introducing themselves and telling us to “Make ourselves comfy”. Within seconds I had decided that this was going to be no ordinary performance. I have wanted to see this company for a long time, mainly because the company’s Resolution! performances in 2010 with ‘Love My Bones’ and 2011 with ‘Love Kills’ received outstanding reviews. I knew I was in for a treat. With a main room and a bar both decorated in a bohemian set design by Tom Spindler and Rachel Gittins, I made myself at home. Soon after, members of the audience were ushered into the main room by the actresses and the bohemian festivities began. The night saw up-and-coming bands Indigo Earth, Adore and Horrorshow collaborate with Rhiannon Faith’s De Keersmaeker and Bausch-inspired choreography; each band took us closer and closer to mischief and anarchy. The most stand-out moments of the performance included a beautifully-executed and choreographed solo to the haunting tune Wise Man by Indigo Earth, so beautiful it sent shivers down my spine and put a smile on my face; also, an energetic and intricate contact duet to the rock songs of Horrorshow which dazzled the audience with intricate and death-defying lifts. At times the performance lost momentum due to the breaks in the dancing which left us enjoying the live music a little too often, but the content and the atmosphere brought us back to the bohemian fun once the dancing had resumed. I felt a small taint of sadness when this performance ended as I knew that we had just witnessed something special. It’s only later I found out that this performance had been put together on only 20 hours of rehearsal. You should keep an eye on Rhiannon Faith:Dancingtheatre as I am hoping for big things from this company. They certainly deserve it.

Performance Performance Reviews

Emily Hearts Tilted Productions

One of the biggest highlights for me at the 4th Annual ‘Out There’ Festival held in Great Yarmouth on the weekend of the 17/18 September 2011 was undoubtedly Tilted Productions performing ‘Seasaw’. Tilted Productions are a very talented and fresh dance company counting performance art, instillations and physical theatre as their mediums. They have an award winning choreographer, Maresa Von Stockert at the helm of the company making beautiful work. With previous dance pieces including the emotionally charged Trapped (2009), the brilliantly surreal Masquerade(2011), which will be touring again in the Spring of 2012 and now the breath taking antics of Seasaw(2011) to name but a few. Seasaw is a dance performance that was originally started as a research and development project as part of the Escalator Outdoor Arts and in association with Norfolk and Norwich Festival. The project then premiered its findings in Cromer last year as a site specific dance performance based on the Victorian promenade and beach surroundings. The performance looked to Cromer’s main attraction as the inspiration. The performance was loved by audiences so much that it prompted a tour and so they found themselves nearly a year later at the centre of a well received performance with a massive audience in Great Yarmouth at the Out There festival. Tilted Productions start the performance with a duo of dancers inviting the audience into their strange and quirky version of a picnic, with the Jaws theme echoing in the background. They then take the audience on a zig zag trail under, around and beside the Britannia Pier. Mimicking legends of the sea such as mermaids and much loved wildlife like seagulls that fill our town and showing how the elements can be used, provoking thoughts on pollution. A significant moment that reflects this in the performance is when three dancers are covered in a crude oil like substance made from an harmless water and gel mixture. In a well thought out, and clever solution to getting clean for the final group sequences, the dancers have a shower on the pier to get rid of the mixture then they jump off the pier in turn discreetly to get to their positions. While this is happening the other dancers divert the audiences attention to a dancer climbing down a rope from the pier, to amongst other things contact improvisation trios and duos set on a polystyrene ice berg. This then progresses to all the dancers joining for a beautiful moment, where they swiftly get upside down and there are just legs in the air against a background of the windmills of Scroby Sands. Led towards the water filled perspex box sitting on a plinth that somehow fits with the surroundings, the talented dancer that finishes this extraordinary plethora of dance and visual art dips into the water, whips her head back several times and then sinks her herself curled childlike to finish off the performance. ‘Spectacular’ said one member of the audience, ‘Amazing’ said another.  The company performed brilliantly, and brought to life the complex and thought provoking ideas of Maresa Von Stockert in such a way that left the audiences stunned and defiantly wanting more. I for one am proud that Great Yarmouth got to see ‘Seasaw’, such an unforgettable company, choreographer and performance. Come back again soon please!

Performance Performance Reviews

Emily Hearts Out There 2011

‘Out There 2011’ saw Great Yarmouth descend into a weekend full of fun, circus, dance, street arts, aliens, giants, crazy inventions, pirates and most importantly rubber bands. Seachange Arts have worked hard on the festival all year and you can certainly tell with this years line up. The 60,000 that turned up at the festival were defiantly happy that Seachange brought some of the best acts from Europe and further to our seaside town and gave it a much needed culture boost. Not even the hour of heavy rain dampened any spirits. Saturday saw the amazing man of little words and his simple but effective folding rule. Gregor Wollney had been raved about for months and he took the curious audiences to his intriguing fictional world. Magmanus, an award winning , acrobatic and juggling loving duo improvised their way through the comedy set, with a rare opportunity to see the teeterboard expertise at work. With 80’s music pumping in the background they sent a shock wave of blushes including my own, around the audience members as they striped down to tiny g strings to finish their show. Next on the bill of the day was of the beautiful contemporary site specific work of Maresa Von Stockert. SEASAW, saw  Tilted Productions take the audience on a zig zag trail under, around and beside the Britannia Pier. Mimicing the legends of the sea and much loved wildlife that fill our town and then showing how the elements can be used which in turn provokes thoughts on pollution. Sunday saw Shay Hooray, who had been MC-ing the weekends festivaties in St George’s park perform. From showing his exceptional talent on a pogo stick, while simultanously struggling out of a straight jacket to an example of how ‘The amazing-rubber band man’ completed his world record attempt at having the most rubber-bands on his face. Nobody wanted to miss it and the performance almost cirtainly drew one of the biggest audiences of the weekend. The ‘Out There Festival 2011’ was closed by Mario, Queen of the Circus. While hundreds of people crowded around Mario, you can feel the anticipation of seeing this world known act. The Queen obsessed Mario soon had everyone laughing and singing along to the familiar tunes, enjoying the unicycling, banana spitting, juggling filled act. The highlight of the weekend was singing and swaying along to ‘We are the Champions’. Enough to shed a tear. Unforgetable!