Feature: On the Waterfront - dance at Latitude 2014

Wednesday 23 July 2014 by Carmel Smith

Aaron Vickers and Lisa Welham in James Cousins' 'There We Have Been' on Waterfront Stage, Latitude. Photo: Ambra Vernuccio

Tango, ballet, South Asian and contemporary dance attracted large audiences on the picturesque Waterfront Stage at Latitude Festival, Henham Park, Suffolk, last weekend. Most of it was presented by Sadler’s Wells, with ten performances by seven companies, involving 49 performers and 45 production/technical crew – the largest presence the organisation has had in seven years at Latitude.

It’s the kind of programme you’d take for granted in a busy week in Sadler’s Wells’ theatres and studios in London, but an 800 acre rural site in Suffolk is a very different proposition. “Obviously dancers need somewhere to warm up before they go on stage,” says Emily Jameson, Projects Producer at Sadler’s Wells. “At Latitude we have a barn, with a floor laid for us, which has live stock in it for the rest of the year. The barn is a 10 minute walk from the stage, with no toilets nearby and a 20 minute walk from the campsite – and the performers check in gate is 10 minutes in another direction.” Even once dancers have arrived at the Waterfront Stage, the holding tent/waiting area, they’ve still got to get across several metres of trampled grass and mud to reach the stage. Some used plastic overshoes; others had their shoes ready for them on stage. Despite the size and accessibility of the site and the challenges of getting people around the site, all the performances went as planned, attracting large audiences. “The great thing about the Sadler’s Wells team is you trust it’s going to happen and it does,” says Jameson. Luckily the rain mostly fell in the night – and a large stack of plastic ponchos remained unwrapped.

Tango champions German Cornejo & Gisela Galeassi (who danced in Associate Artist Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s M¡longa ), were first on stage on Thursday evening. Ballet Revolución (coming to the Peacock Theatre in October) were on Friday evening and again on Saturday afternoon when they had one of the largest crowds of the weekend – and a standing ovation. Next Sonia Sabri, the Birmingham based contemporary/South Asian dance artist performed extracts from her work Ekalya (the Sanskrit word meaning solo) and managed to engage crowds in front of the stage, on the opposite side of the lake and on the nearby bridge in complicated beat clapping. Dancers Aaron Vickers and Lisa Welham, performed a duet by James Cousins (winner of the first New Adventures Choreographer Award) for the last time, as Vickers is leaving to join Phoenix Dance Theatre.

On Sunday English National Ballet presented a double bill of new work by company dancers, including Van Le Ngoc’s Four Seasons and a new work by James Streeter, In Living Memory…, inspired by texts about the First World War. They were followed by Candoco Dance Company’s Rick Rodgers and Adam Gain in Two for C , a new work for the company by Javier de Frutos and members of the National Youth Dance Company in a powerfully restaged excerpt of Akram Khan’s Vertical Road.

Also appearing on the Waterfront Stage were Wayne McGregor|Random Dance, currently touring their latest work Atomos and ten members of the cast of West End musical Dirty Dancing, in a performance created especially for setting. UK Associate Choreographer Glenn Wilkinson said “I adapted the piece to try and give people a real sense of the show. I tried to pick the most iconic moments and squeeze what is normally a two-hour show into twenty minutes.”

For those who felt like learning a few new moves, local dance agency Dance East were in the Pandora’s Playground area all weekend with yoga and dance sessions for all in Bokwa, capeiora, Egyptian belly dancing, hip hop and musical theatre – all sessions are open to everyone.

Check out Ambra Vernuccio’s gallery of photos for us below – and see more of her work here


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