LondonDance - Latest Articleshttp://londondance.comLatest news and articles from LondonDanceSun, 30 Apr 2017 09:46:00 +0100Thu, 01 Jan 1970 01:00:00 +0100Your weekly dance guide /articles/features/your-weekly-dance-guide//articles/features/your-weekly-dance-guide/Monday

Spice up your bank holiday lunchtime with a mix of ‘adult drama’ and ‘electrifying choreography’ from the Royal Ballet, as they perform the masterful ballet Mayerling. Even better, there are still £8 tickets left!


Grab your last chance to watch Tamara Rojo’s Giselle: Belle of the Ballet on BBC iPlayer as she explores ’the first great Romantic ballet’.


Treat yourself to a mid-week outing to Mark Murphy’s V-TOLOUT OF THIS WORLD at The Peacock. A mix of ‘aerial choreography, explosive special effects and intense storytelling’ it’s bound to get you through the rest of the week.


See Jose Agudo, who has worked with Shobana Jeyasingh and Akram Khan, launch his company with an evening of specially commissioned works at the Lilian Baylis Studio.


How do we build a diverse and sustainable future for dance? Join Nora as they present their international research alongside guest speaker Hetain Patel at The Place.


Celebrate the month of May with a family day out to Cecil Sharp House. Join in with an abundance of folk fuelled fun including English ceilidh, maypole and rapper sword dancing.


Get your body ready for the week ahead with Central School of Ballet’s Contemporary Dance with Yoga Elements class for adults.

FeaturesThu, 05 Jan 2017 00:00:00 +0000
Deborah Baddoo 'The themes of migration and identity touch a real primal nerve. They evoke responses that are common to all people.'/articles/interviews/deborah-baddoo-the-themes-of-migration-and-identit//articles/interviews/deborah-baddoo-the-themes-of-migration-and-identit/As State of Emergency celebrates 30 years of producing performance, Deborah Badoo and Steve Marshall bring Where is Home? to London. Exploring the concept of identity and migration Where is Home? is a new twist on a 1000 year old fable presenting music and dance from South Africa, mixed with urban culture from London and Los Angeles.

Tell us a little bit about how you came to produce Where is Home? and what the shows about:

The story is set in South Africa and crosses a range of styles of both dance and music. We have a long connection with South Africa and have attended their dance umbrella since 2008. This production crosses continents, it is set in Johannesburg, London and Hollywood. It’s a universal tale, investigating themes of global human migration and displacement. In this quest for adventure, freedom and love, the characters seek their fortunes, experience war and oppression, fall in love, discover the price of fame, and travel to distant lands only to find that what they seek was right under their noses all along.

The piece is an international collaboration with dancers from USA, South Africa and the UK. What’s been like to bring those dancers together? How has it influenced the piece?

We auditioned dancers in the UK and SA and over 350 dancers applied to be part of the project. The narrative lent itself to a South African interpretation stylistically. The story is based on a 1000 year old fable that has had many manifestations regarding the structure and concept of the work. State of Emergency’s Musical Director met the South African Grammy winning flutist, Wouter Kellerman, in LA and it seemed like an ideal opportunity to develop a collaboration with the music, which in turn re-connected us with South Africa.

Music has always been a big part of State of Emergency’s work. Talk us through how you approach the music for each show and how it’s made alongside the choreography:

State of Emergency Co-founder, Steve Marshall, is a Grammy nominated music producer and so the relationship between dance and music goes back to its origins of when the company was set up in 1986. In many ways Where Is Home? is a return to the original State of Emergency format of music and dance collaboration. Steve follows the concept of working hand-in-hand with the choreographers to set a mood and environment in which the choreography and music can evolve together. There are three sections to this production’s music; South African, Urban London, Jazz and Blues and Soul. It is a dance musical with a distinctively trans-continental stance.

The show deals with some big, topical questions such as ‘where do you come from? where are you heading? where is home?’ how do you think dance helps audiences explore these bigger questions?

I see a lot of value in our works’ emotional content.Where Is Home? is a ‘dance musical’. It’s dance, strengthened by music and song, created to connect with people’s emotions. An absence of dialogue enables us to cross boundaries of language and communicate more directly on a subconscious/emotional level. The themes of migration and identity touch a real primal nerve. They evoke responses that are common to all people.

You celebrate 30 years of producing wok as a state of Emergency this year, how has Dance Theatre changed in that time?

Aside from the obvious shrinking in funding for dance theatre, and indeed all arts, I see a growing disconnect between dance and music, which is a European construct. This disconnect has become part of an institution in European aesthetics.

State of Emergency stands for a unity of art forms and has done since its beginnings. From the general audience reaction and feedback to our show so far, it appears that they are looking for something different. What we are seeing is that more and more programming is being dictated by a bureaucratic structure. What we need are more artists being involved with influencing the programming and funding agenda.

In funding circles there is a constant conversation about diversity and how we should all be striving towards this. However, in reality, funding and support has been reduced for organisations that have been making a real contribution to the progress of cultural arts in the UK. There is a huge demand for culturally diverse work that is not being met.

What has been a stand out moment for you in those 30 years?

For me, taking our work to an international audience at Grahamstown Festival in South Africa and to Toronto, Canada in particular. For our musical Director, working with Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards.

Where is Home? is at Rich Mix on Saturday 06 May.

InterviewsThu, 01 Jan 1970 01:00:00 +0100
Motionhouse - Scattered - The Peacock/articles/reviews/motionhouse-scattered-the-peacock//articles/reviews/motionhouse-scattered-the-peacock/Reviewed on the 26 April 2017

This is the fifth time Scattered has toured the UK – and the umpteenth time Motionhouse has performed it worldwide. Why? Because audiences love it. And it’s easy to see why.

Buzzing with physicality, visual tricks and dexterous choreography by Motionhouse’s artistic director Kevin Finnan MBE, it’s the epitome of his company’s work. The unique sloping set, designed by Simon Dormon and inspired by a quarter pipe, acts as a giant slide for the seven athletic dancers to hurl themselves down and spider-crawl back up, as well as a backdrop for projection technology to continually reimagine the space.

Although you might not guess it from the title, Scattered is all about water: its various manifestations, atomic structure and the impact of sanitation on world health are just a few of the ideas covered. The electronic score, by Sophie Smith in collaboration with Finnan, is layered with watery sounds, while the projections progress geographically north to south, through ice and snow, to oceans, to forest, then back in reverse, giving the piece some compositional logic.

The first dancer to drop dramatically down the slope draws a collective gasp from the audience – but soon they’re all up and down like yoyos, displaying phenomenal strength, skill and nerve, but perhaps a slightly limited range of movement. A bungee rope makes an appearance and, at the end, three dancers tangle themselves up in silks, which is super-effective but all too brief.

On the floor, the contact choreography, which has become the company’s signature style, is fluid and clean, with strong lines and daring lifts. They dip in and out of different combinations, performing some beautifully sensual duets charged with chemistry – although too often the group is split male/female. And, to be honest, after a while the sequences begin to feel a little repetitive.

Fortunately, the digital imagery keeps it fresh, providing new backdrops for the dancers to interact with and draw us into their world. We see them shivering on icebergs, climbing up into a tap and plunging into a dirty swimming pool. In one section, they’re like Borrowers clinging on to melting ice cubes in a giant freezer, while in another they dive off a waterfall, wiping their faces as they emerge from the depths. Later, against the backdrop of a sun-cracked desert, they perfectly embody lizards with splayed toes, poised and alert. And having traversed the stage using water bottles as missiles, they take a swig and gurgle conversations to each other. Some sections are bizarre, but perhaps it would benefit from a few more moments like this.

Created in 2009, Scattered was the first of what has now become a trilogy. The second, Broken, created in 2013, examines our precarious relationship with the Earth, while the final chapter, Charge, takes its inspiration from energy and is a brand-new work still in the making. It’s due to tour the UK in April next year.

What’s great about these pieces, and many more of Motionhouse’s productions and site-specific projects, is their accessibility and cross-generational appeal. Short and snappy, with a touch of humour and bundles of energy, they always draw in a diverse crowd, which is never disappointed.

Scattered is at the Peacock Theatre until 29 April.

Samantha Whitaker is an editor and freelance writer. Find her on Twitter @swhit1985

ReviewsThu, 01 Jan 1970 01:00:00 +0100
Zinzi Minott - ‘What Kind of Slave Would I be?’ - Rich Mix/articles/reviews/zinzi-minott-what-kind-of-slave-would-i-be-rich-mi//articles/reviews/zinzi-minott-what-kind-of-slave-would-i-be-rich-mi/Performance reviewed: 22nd April

Zinzi Minott wonders ‘What Kind of Slave Would I be?’ and captures my attention with her new solo work. Coupling dance and politics, Minott deeps into colonialism and unveils hidden – or forgotten – parts and emotions of the Black British Identity.

Rich Mix’s stage is transformed into an exotic back-yard which perimetrically is full of plants, mirrors and a centred chair made of bamboo. In the dark, Minott enters her kingdom confidently, totally dressed in black except for her white nails and…eyes! She has bright-white googly eyes and stares us in a frozen, glassy way. The back-yard scenery is accompanied by a grey-dotted upstage screen which works as a parallel set throughout the piece.

In a tireless and euphoric sound given by Nkisi, Minott commences her ‘Slave Dance’. Isolations of her extremities lead her sharp gestured motion which is constantly interrupted and remains incomplete. She gives her own endless battle with memories, she roars silently like a lion recently captured. Sensitive and powerful, Minott stretches her long arms only to retrieve them again. She is in the middle of a chaotic and threatening universe and she goes beyond the point of exhaustion looking for her freedom. The urge to find the sense of liberty is a fundamental human instinct, and Minott proves herself to be a cosmic existence.

The strong narrative is enriched by a creative video footage and Rohan Ayinde’s photography setting, contributing elements to the crescendo of the plot. A white surface is painted black on the screen, while Minott forms a labyrinth with her manoeuvres expressing anger and oppression.

‘What Kind of Slave Would I be?’ pictures how traumatic and indelible experience slavery is, regardless of its kind. Thanks to her twin talents of daring and opposing fear, Minott takes us on a journey to the past. However, the chopped bits of action were distracting and the high voltage lighting interrupted my thoughts.

Saturday 22nd April 2017
Rich Mix Centre
35-47 Bethnal Green Road
E1 6LA

Asterope Tia Chatzinikola, is a professional dancer with a Literature degree. She studied at Central Saint Martins (MA Arts & Culture Enterprise) and she is a reviewer for and Dance Writer.


I identify very strongly as a dancer, not just because of what I do, but because more recently I’ve started to understand and articulate that that’s how I see the world. It’s how I gobble the world up and put the world back out. Some of us interpret and put the world out in different ways. Some people write, some people paint, and for me it’s dance. So even if I’m writing or painting, it’s usually as a way to facilitate me dancing. Also, it’s important to me because it’s not about speaking – I don’t think anyone would describe me as quiet, but I actually get quite exhausted by speaking, and I’d just rather dance all the time.

Please click here to read the full interview

ReviewsThu, 01 Jan 1970 01:00:00 +0100
FROM FAME To CABARET To LONDON: Toney Wilson Jazz Dancer/articles/interviews/from-fame-to-cabaret-to-london-the-toney-wilson-ja//articles/interviews/from-fame-to-cabaret-to-london-the-toney-wilson-ja/Jazz dancer, Toney Wilson, has, in his long career, brought his lyrical jazz style to both On-and-Off Broadway shows, including Cabaret and A Chorus Line. Since discovering his love for dance, he’s also trained with some of the masters – Joe Tremaine to Jaime Rogers of West Side Story – worked on FAME the TV show and taught dance students across his native Los Angeles.

Toney will be teaching a jazz dance Masterclass for Intermediate and Advanced students at Pineapple, this May. We chat to him about his career and what it takes to make it in Jazz.

When did you first start dancing?

I started dancing and performing at the San Fernando High School in California, aged 16. I was doing African dance with a group of 26 dancers and live drummers. This was an amazing experience for me, because I grew up as an asthmatic not knowing that I had the stamina or even the physical strength to dance a two-hour set. I knew afterwards that I had an amazing spirit and very strong body.

Once I graduated, I took my first jazz class from Joe Tremaine in Hollywood, at age 19. That’s when I started training professionally. I stayed with Joe for ten years. When I walked in to that studio, that first day, everyone was spinning and jumping, and leaping through the air. My mouth was open, my heart was beating fast, and I vowed that day to never stop dancing. In the same studio where I was taking class from Joe, there was the great Jaime Rogers, from the movie West Side Story, teaching Modern dance. So I had the pleasure of dancing with the masters of dance at an early age.

What was the attitude like towards men dancing in your community when you were growing up?

It was not received well. There were not many male dancers. My older sister was a dancer, and I would always go to her rehearsals and watch the various bodies winding and twirling, so this must have had an impact on me. I was really blessed to have so much support from my family.

What was the attitude like towards men dancing in your community when you were growing up?

It was not received well. There were not many male dancers. My older sister was a dancer, and I would always go to her rehearsals and watch the various bodies winding and twirling, so this must have had an impact on me. I was really blessed to have so much support from my family.

Tell us more about some of the companies you have danced with?

I was a member of Dennon and Sayhber Rawles Dance company (Jazz Dancers Inc.) for five wonderful years. This was a mixture of classical and Broadway jazz. They focused on technique and style. Everything had to be in place. I learned form and so much about musicality, dance phrasing and precision. I also danced with the great modern dance instructor Karen McDonald, a fabulous dancer that pushed me beyond my limits.

Tell us about your Broadway work?

I have had the wonderful opportunity to tour and dance with Broadway touring companies such as A Chorus Line, Arthur, the Live Adventure, and the Della Reese Blues Revue.

Every touring company is different in its own right. First they are all different styles of dance, and that is what was very intriguing and exiting to me. Some of the tours were back-to-back. For instance, I would be on tour with Della Reese Blues Revue, doing a more cotton club, bluesy-type style of dance, for about a month, then come home, repack my bags and go back on the road with A Chorus Line. That was so exciting to me to have to change hats like that.

Training with Joe Tremaine to working with Debbie Allen on FAME. That sounds impressive. Tell us about it.

Joe Tremaine was exciting, energetic and a complete showman. I didn’t get technique from him, but I must say I truly learned how to be a showman, and find my own style at an early age. Working on the TV show FAME was very cool, starting with the audition. It was a cattle call. There must have been 500 people there. A rockin’ routine, technique and then she stopped the audition and came over to me and said, ‘What’s your name? You are a beautiful dancer, and I have a special part for you.’ My heart was fluttering. She gave me a nice little solo piece, filmed at the Guitar center in Hollywood. That was very exciting.

What does it take to dance jazz professionally?

In any dance form, it takes commitment. In jazz, I believe that you need to take class from lots of different instructors, and then the more you practice like crazy your own personal style will soon emerge.

Toney will be leading a masterclass at Pineapple Studio on 08 and 10 May. For more information contact via email: or call 07931-867735

Toney Wilson was interviewed by Liza Foreman.

InterviewsThu, 01 Jan 1970 01:00:00 +0100
BBC Young Dancer 2017/articles/reviews/bbc-young-dancer-2017//articles/reviews/bbc-young-dancer-2017/Finale reviewed: 22nd April 2017

There’s a restlessness in the stalls at Sadler’s Wells tonight. Two huge television cameras dominate the middle of Row G. Next to me is a long glass table with six empty seats waiting for Marc Brew, Kate Prince, Kenneth Tharp, Kevin O’Hare, Jasmin Vardimon and Nahid Siddiqui. The dance-world heavyweights who will later crown finalist Nafisah Baba BBC Young Dancer of the Year.

Despite the pressure of the competition and the cameras, the atmosphere feels hugely supportive. Hosts Anita Rani and Ore Oduba ask Kenneth Tharp for his advice to the five competitors, his reply ‘Forget the judges, forget about us… and remember to breathe.’

The finalists; Jodelle Douglas (Street Dance), Rhys Antoni Yeomans (Ballet), Shyam Dattani (South Asian Dance), Nafisah Baba (Contemporary) joined by wildcard John-William Watson each perform two solos and a duet to much whooping and hollering.

The work is short, punchy and designed to ‘wow’ but we relish the quieter moments. Kathak dancer Dattani’s flitting, intricate gestures are captivating. There’s a simple beauty in Douglas’ duet with Harry Barnes when both bodies pop metronomically from side to side. Yeomans gently guides partner Misato Isogami en pointe, she floats for a moment before gliding on, blown by the wind.

The final solos are the real highlight though, products of hours with professional choreographers. Each of the five seem completely immersed in the world of their work, no longer really performing. The opening of Watson’s solo, choreographed by Caroline Finn, is striking. In a dark spotlight his limbs easily shoot away at impossible angles. Baba shines in her final solo, choreographed by Laila Diallo. She tumbles seamlessly through the space demonstrating the incredibly natural, human performance style that eventually wins her the title.

Finally 2015’s winner Connor Scott returns with an extract from his new work brave Echo. He eats through the space, diving in and out of the floor with ease. He demonstrates maturity and artistry as well as amazing physical ability. He’s an encouraging prospect and taste of the future for 2017’s BBC Young Dancer finalists.

Review by Ruby Embley.

“BBC Young Dancer is an excellent platform for talented young dancers of different backgrounds to showcase their abilities, and for audiences to enjoy a wide range of performances and find out more about dance styles they may be less familiar with.” Alistair Spalding, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Sadler’s Wells. To read full article please click here

ReviewsThu, 01 Jan 1970 01:00:00 +0100
Rosie Kay Dance Company: MK ULTRA - Trinity Laban Theatre/articles/reviews/rosie-kay-dance-company-mk-ultra-trinity-laban-the//articles/reviews/rosie-kay-dance-company-mk-ultra-trinity-laban-the/Performance reviewed: 20 April 2017

Rosie Kay Dance Company throws us down the deep rabbit hole of conspiracy theories about CIA mind control, popstar programming and Illuminati symbolism. MK ULTRA: Delving into the Illuminati is Rosie Kay’s supercharged bold work exploring the pop culture and the structure of the world through a hypnotic optic lens.

A triangle film screen, an empty throne and light design by Mike Gunning set a ceremonial atmosphere. With the state ‘This is fake theatre’, MK ULTRA starts revealing a complicated thought process researching the shadowy elite of Illuminati and their brainwashing techniques.

Dancers slither down the stage with a glamorous and MTV-like projection of their body. The video clip-style with the unstoppable music beat edited by Annie Mahtani is blended with Louis Price’s video designs, shaping mystic visual illusions. Puppets of fame, the seven performers, float around in ecstasy forming a madhouse. They are shooting stars leaping through the stage, twerking, krumping and sky-high jumping. Gary Card’s skin-tight costumes showcase Illuminati symbols and magnetise us with their dominant presence.

The plot fluctuates between a well-tuned army and moments of their total disconnection. Progressively, they crash down and we witness their constant reprogramming into their previous hectic selves. The troops teeter between their implanted memories and worn out dreams. In a disarming and spine-chilling scene, Shelley Eva Haden is transferred to the empty throne and becomes its new queen. Unexpectedly, the chaotic fuss surrenders and Disney’s fairy dust fills the air ‘wishing upon a star’. Haden is now part of a sweet and kind fairy-tale and nothing reveals the mechanical parallel underworld.

Kay’s weird language is well developed and her iconoclastic skills powerful. In the post-show talk led by Luke Jennings, Kay and Adam Curtis encouraged us to anticipate MK ULTRA as the wider picture of ‘how the world is made’. The final decision of what is true or not is irrelevant. For me, the digging into research and the questions that arose excited me the most.

Touring: 17 March – 18 May 2017
Please click here for touring information

Asterope Tia Chatzinikola, is a professional dancer with a Literature degree. She studied at Central Saint Martins (MA Arts & Culture Enterprise) and she is a reviewer for and Dance Writer.

ReviewsThu, 01 Jan 1970 01:00:00 +0100
Event: Conversation with Alistair Spalding, CBE, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Sadler's Wells/articles/interviews/an-evening-with-alistair-spalding-cbe-artistic-dir//articles/interviews/an-evening-with-alistair-spalding-cbe-artistic-dir/An evening talk with Alistair Spalding, CBE, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Sadler’s Wells at the London ballet Circle

Monday 15 May, 7.30 pm – 8.30 pm
Civil Service Club, 13-15 Great Scotland Yard, London, SW1A 2HJ
Payment at the door, members £5, guests £8

January 30, 2017; Alistair Spalding CBE, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Sadler’s Wells, in conversation with Eva Martinez, Artistic Programmer and Artist Development.

About Alistair Spalding CBE
Alistair Spalding has been the Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Sadler’s Wells since 2004. He has been responsible for programming at the theatre since February 2000 (when he joined as Director of Programming). Alistair’s first job in arts management was at the Hawth Theatre, Crawley, where he was a programmer from 1988-1994. Over six years between 1994 and 2000, Alistair was the Head of Dance and Performance at the Southbank Centre in London.
Alistair was also appointed as a national member of the Arts Council of England Board in January 2009. He was a member of the Arts Council England Dance Advisory Panel between 1995 and 2003. He was awarded Le Chevalier des Artes et Lettres by the French Embassy in October 2005. In June 2012 he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s Birthday honours list, for services to dance.

About The London ballet Circle
London Ballet Circle aims is to promote interest in dance (not just ballet) and associated arts by arranging a broad range of talks by dancers, choreographers and artistic directors; organising visits to the country’s top ballet schools and hosting private tours of major exhibitions related to dance.
The London Ballet Circle was founded in 1946 by Stanley Hawkins and its founder President and first Patron was the founder of the Royal Ballet, Dame Ninette de Valois, who we continue to remember through a student bursary given to a student at the Royal Ballet School. Dame Alicia Markova succeeded Dame Ninette. We commemorate Stanley Hawkins through a new bursary. Remembering his fondness for his Welsh heritage, we have teamed up with Welsh Ballet to provide a bursary which will allow a talented young dance student to attend the company’s Newport Summer Dance & Wales International Ballet Summer School.

Sadler’s Wells has not only shaped tastes, but also subtly altered the nature of contemporary dance itself Alistair Spalding CBE

Read full Sarah Crompton interview with Alistair Spalding CBE, please click here

InterviewsThu, 01 Jan 1970 01:00:00 +0100
Si Rawlinson - 'The awkwardness and incapacity of well-meaning people too often gets in the way of urgent social action'/articles/interviews/si-rawlinson-the-awkwardness-and-incapacity-of-wel//articles/interviews/si-rawlinson-the-awkwardness-and-incapacity-of-wel/Wayward Thread are returning to Breakin’ Convention, the international festival of Hip Hop Dance Theatre, next week. Leading the group, Si Rawlinson questions history’s attitude to civil rights, exploring the discussion about racism, as a white man. Featuring a mix of breaking and verbatim spoken word, the work has been developed at Back to the Lab, Breakin’ Convention’s professional development intensive for hip hop choreographers.

We speak to Si on how he came to create Inherent and how it’s shaped his work since.

Tell us what first inspired you to create Inherent?

Last year, it was hard to keep count of the unarmed black people shot by police in America. Each time had to be the last time, then it would happen again. I’d be angry for so long, and then I’d forget.

These terrible events have been repeating for as long as there have been police. And yet, this is embarrassing to admit, when the Black Lives Matter movement started, I thought the name was wrong. Shouldn’t it be All Lives Matter?

It wasn’t until I watched 13th by Ava Duvernay that I realised how I had totally missed the point. I couldn’t believe that I considered myself ‘progressive’ and yet didn’t even know what racism really was. I had never feared for my life or my families, had opportunity withheld or experienced the countless invisible ways that the system around me favours one ethnicity over another.

It felt uncomfortable addressing a subject like black oppression being myself British Chinese, but I realised there is a need for those who are not black to engage with Black Lives Matter, the same way men need to engage with women’s rights. The awkwardness and incapacity of well-meaning people too often gets in the way of urgent social action.

I wanted to create a piece with two other dancers, Ryan Naiken who is from The Seychelles, and Vladimir Gruev who is from Bulgaria, to try and say something about the limits of memory and shared experience, how we embrace certain aspects of black culture whilst shrugging off the system of racism that we don’t have to live with. But I also hope, at a time when community and perspective seems more divided than ever, to find ourselves in each other and inspire accountability for change.

How do you think dance can add to current dialogue on race and civil rights?

So much of the dialogue is expressed in dates, events, and statistics and though that’s important, it’s not everything. We need storytelling to remember the impact on people’s lives.

Dance is so immediate and human, I think it can draw you into the now, and into what’s happening to real people. That feeling you get of being in the same room with others and sharing an experience grows empathy and helps tie us together.

Also, the hiphop community is now one of the most diverse ethnic communities on the planet, with a dance language that speaks as diversely in a way that connects younger people to the current dialogue on race and civil rights.

The piece features a mix of breaking and verbatim spoken word, talk us through how you brought these two forms together?

I started with drawing memories from my dancers, trying to pull out a picture that everyone can recognise themselves in, and used movement and gesture that came from personal stories to be a kind of crossform duet. We use a single radio microphone in the show too, and it becomes a central prop, guiding movement as we try to make each other speak, or refuse to speak, as we tell one story, or argue in an ironic twist of historical quotes.

How has creating Inherent changed your work?

Since making Inherent at Back to the Lab, it’s interesting, I just can’t justify making work that won’t mean something for other people, and doesn’t somehow challenge the way I see the world.

Ivan Blackstock shared a quote with the audience last Breakin’ Convention from Nina Simone, “An artist’s duty is to reflect the times”, and I’ve been thinking a lot about that. Then again she’s also been quoted to have said, “I don’t like rap music at all. I don’t think it’s music. It’s just a beat and rapping.” so not everything she said was gold.

I’ve been commissioned by Curve theatre since, to make a feature of the show I did last year, now called Ink, and it’s become about the role of the artist as activist and political dissident, drawing from the social commentary of Ai Weiwei.

I am really glad, because this turn in the direction of my work would not have happened without working on Inherent with the Breakin’ Convention mentors Jonzi D, Anthony Ekundayo Lennon, Ivan Blackstock and Jonathan Burrows, all of whom are heavy hitters in making provocative and personally charged work.

Who are you looking forward to seeing at Breakin’ Convention this year?

I love seeing companies I’m not familiar with, and one thing Breakin’ Convention does very well is curating the shows so each day feels like a journey.

But if I was forced to pick a few; Boy Blue are veterans, so I always look forward to how they bring fresh ideas and evolve every year. I’m also a massive fan of bboy Cheerito, who is easily one of the most creative dancers out there right now. Just Dance from Korea is on the list, I’m also looking out for Theo Godson’s work, and a good friend of mine, Emma Houston, who will be mixing breaking and vogue on the main stage.

What’s your favourite part of the festival?

As soon as I finish performing – and get over the things that inevitably won’t go down the way I had planned – I can relax and enjoy the good vibes. At Breakin’ Convention the people and the atmosphere really make the festival.

I’ll be seeing as many shows as I can, but I love being surprised by familiar faces on stairways and corridors, and stealing a moment to catch-up.

You’ll also be taking part in the Breakin’ Conventions tour, performing in Leicester, what’s it like taking the piece home?

I’ve been living in Leicester for a year now, after living in London and Leeds before that, and it feels good to find a city where I am finally laying roots. Some of my favourite theatre makers are from Leicester, including the acclaimed spoken word and dance artist John Berkavitch, who really has taught me so much, in so many ways. He was one of the first artists I saw and thought, maybe I can do something like that one day, at a time when I was unsure I was capable of anything as a dancer. I’d like to think young people who might have little experience of hiphop theatre, might see Breakin’ Convention on the tour and get inspired like that.

Breakin’ convention ’17 is at Sadler’s Wells from Friday 28 April – Monday 1 May 2017.

InterviewsThu, 01 Jan 1970 01:00:00 +0100
Naomi Tadevossian - 'It definitely is fun, hurtling and sliding down the set, but it’s also as scary as it looks.'/articles/interviews/naomi-tadevossian-motionhouse-yes-it-definitely-is//articles/interviews/naomi-tadevossian-motionhouse-yes-it-definitely-is/Motionhouse, one of the UK’s foremost Dance Theatre companies, brings Scattered to London. The show features their trademark highly-physical style of dance and acrobatics, combined with lavish imagery projected on a groundbreaking curved set.

We speak to Naomi Tadevossian, a dancer with Motionhouse, about what it’s like to dance with the iconic set and how she recovers at the end of this high-intensity show.

Tell us a little bit about the thinking behind Scattered

Scattered explores our relationship with water. Kevin Finnan (Motionhouse’s Artistic Director) takes his inspiration from common human concerns and our connection to the world we live in. With Scattered, he wanted to examine water as a magical substance in our everyday lives and how without it, life on Earth could not exist.

What do you think has made the show so successful?

I think the phenomenal success of Scattered is down to the combination of its amazing set and the music and the visual imagery which work together to create a cinematic experience. This engulfs and immerses the audience, taking them on a journey that really fires people’s imaginations. I think when Kevin made the show in 2009, nobody imagined that we would still be performing it in 2017!

The set comprises of a ‘vertiginous sloping wall, inspired by a quarter pipe’ which you slide and climb. How did you feel when you first tried it out? Is it as fun as it looks?

Yes it definitely is fun, hurtling and sliding down the set, but it’s also as scary as it looks. It’s really high!

I knew I was going to be performing Scattered for a time before physically learning it. The other dancers and Kevin, our artistic director, were excited for me but would also subtly say things like ‘I wonder how you’ll feel on the ramp/if you’ll make it up ok?’

After familiarising myself with the ramp over time it became easier to gage the correct distance and force to use, because when you hit it slightly wrong the bumps and bruising will tell you!

As a dancer, how important is a set and scenery to your performance?

The set and scenery is as integral to the work as another performer. The imagery creates the scene; whether that be emotive or an environmental change to the character you are embodying. It also sets a mood for the audience, guiding them through their journey.

As a performer our interactions with one another create a type of energy that we also feel with the set. The ramp is such a large structure that when the audience enters the theatre they get a slight shiver of anticipation, and I think as a performer we have a very similar buzz.

One of my entrances in Scattered is from sliding off the top of the ramp, and I do feel very cool doing this! One of the things that makes working for Motionhouse so exciting is that each production has a new set to explore, with new abilities and limitations to test.

We are currently creating Charge , the third and final part of the Earth Trilogy, and again, the set is an integral part of the show. We’ve begun working on the set to establish the physical language for the production and I’m excited to see where we take it to.

We’ve also recently been training for another pretty impressive set – the side of a 30 metre wall in Randers Harbour for the Aarhus 2017 European Capital of Culture celebrations in September. We’ll be abseiling down the wall and aerial dancing against it, all with a digital backdrop. This set will challenge us in other ways – which we are looking forward to experiencing.

Scattered also uses film to great effect. What’s it like dancing within digital environments?

Joining Motionhouse for Broken was my first introduction to working alongside film with dance. Kevin is a very collaborative creator; he is inspired by other artists – our film makers Logela, our composers Sophy Smith and Tim Dickinson, and the individual skill of the dancers, etc. All of these elements create the work in its entirety and play a part in creating the finished production. The film is particularly apparent for the dancer; it provides cues for physical interactions with the ramp (hitting a certain splash or swiping on a set count) and other times it changes the overall intention of the scene, for example imagining we are in a hot desert or are ice cubes melting.

How do you think technology will continue to influence dance and performance?

I think that technological advances mean that digital can more easily work with dance or other art forms. I think this is really positive because it potentially enables a diverse audience to connect with the arts. Collaboratively it’s exciting for artists to combine their ideas to develop the depth of two different fields of creative arts. The boundaries feel more limitless when combining different skillsets and I think that excites audiences as they can’t anticipate what they are about to see.

The show is ‘highly-physical style of dance and acrobatics’ how do you recover after the show and prepare your body to do it all again the following night?

I’ve heard Motionhouse dancers being given the nickname ‘powerhouse’. Given Kevin’s interest in integrating circus and dance, we are all especially keen to work on fitness and strength to make sure we can prevent injuries and stay strong. However, we don’t live at the gym so we spend our time gaining strength from actually playing on the sets and exploring ways to lift and partner each other.

After a show, most of us drink protein shakes and eat a large meal to replenish our body, but also a post-show drink with the team helps the muscles relax! The shows push our bodies but as performers that’s what we hope to achieve. We thrive off challenges and new skills and that’s what keeps us enjoying what we do. Performing your heart out and gasping for air at the end, is a sign of a great show.

Scattered is at the Peacock Theatre from the 26 – 29 April 2017.

InterviewsThu, 01 Jan 1970 01:00:00 +0100
Hong Kong Dance Company - Mulan - Southbank Centre/articles/reviews/hong-kong-dance-company-mulan-southbank-centre//articles/reviews/hong-kong-dance-company-mulan-southbank-centre/Performance reviewed: 15 April 2017

Rupert Thompson, Southbank Centre’s Senior Programmer for Performance and Dance, opened the performance up with a speech welcoming Hong Kong Dance Company to their debut at Southbank Centre, highlighting to the audience that the performance will be a brilliant mixture of martial arts, contemporary dance, and ballet. In doing so, Thompson was inviting the audience along on the journey, as he said, ‘to the beginning of more collaborations with China and the Chinese diaspora’ in London. To start a dance show, with such a clear message of mutual collaboration is to be applauded.

The performance however started with an unsure footing, there seemed to be a pause as the lights dimmed and the dancers uncertainly placed themselves on stage, however this was quickly rectified. With the opening group sequence setting the tone, and the music lending itself well to the story telling of what is a classic Chinese tale. Pan Linguan as Principal Dancer illuminates the stage with emotive facial expressions that one can clearly see her not only dancing with excellent technique but also her strong acting ability. Though the set design is sparse, the dance company make much use of lighting, and atmospheric smoke/fog stimulation that enables a sense of landscape and mise en scène.

The early duet with Mulan and her father, performed here by Huang Lei dances the fine line between affection and sentimentality; in the way one feels a sense of farewell and loss. The gentle footwork and physical closeness of both dancers seems to create a true connection, that builds a good tension, illustrating the disruption about to occur as Mulan joins the army, taking her father’s place.

Mulan after victory in battle asks the Emperor for a simple request to return home, the lanterns dance is in an evocation of the reunion soon to take place. When the epilogue of maiden at the loom appears, the dancers in synchronicity highlight the pathos of return, with hand and arm dance gestures sounding a note of whimsy, that things have changed, however Mulan is still who she was. Echoing that age-old notion that life experiences may change us, but we retain a core of that inner child of our youth.

Witnessing this story telling prowess, I welcome the opportunity to see more of this collaboration that also asks the audience to think beyond classic European dance and dance theatre; to see the nurturing mix of techniques and styles that can clearly add something new to Dance as a vital dynamic language.

15 April 2017
Royal Festival Hall
Southbank Centre
Belvedere Road
Tel: +44 (0)20 7960 4200

About Hong Kong Dance Company

The Legend of Mulan – Trailer

Jobeda Khanum has worked for over 15 years in the Arts and Cultural sector in London, and is passionate about all things Dance related, combining this passion by working for

ReviewsThu, 01 Jan 1970 01:00:00 +0100
Crystal Pite and Jonathon Young - Betroffenheit - Sadler’s Wells/articles/reviews/crystal-pite-and-jonathon-young-betroffenheit-sadl//articles/reviews/crystal-pite-and-jonathon-young-betroffenheit-sadl/Performance reviewed: 11 Apr 2017

Who would believe that something so arresting could emerge from such a horrific tragedy?

In 2009, Jonathon Young’s teenage daughter, Azra, was killed along with her two cousins, his niece and nephew, in a holiday cabin fire. Young was asleep in another building, and by the time he arrived it was too late. In the aftermath, as an actor and playwright Young turned to his art to try to make some sense of his experience. He approached his good friend, choreographer and fellow Canadian Crystal Pite, one of Sadler’s Wells Associate Artists.

Together they formed something unique: a two-hour piece of dance theatre, co-created by Pite’s dance company, Kidd Pivot, and Electric Company Theatre, of which Young is co-artistic director. Betroffenheit – a German word that expresses the state of shock and complete dissolution in the wake of trauma – premiered in the UK last year to rave reviews. In January, Young received an Outstanding Performance in Modern Dance award at the Critics’ Circle National Awards, and just last Sunday, at the 2017 Olivier Award ceremony, the production was named Best New Dance Production.

Young performs in Betroffenheit’s central role and tells his own story of a man who has suffered a horrific incident and finds himself locked inside his own mind. The first act takes place in a bare, industrial unit. Young is alone on stage and this empty room – whether physical or metaphorical – is a haven, away from reality. Wracked by guilt, there are unrelenting flashbacks as he relives the trauma: sirens and flashing lights, sounds and voices: ‘Oh my god, oh my god!’ is a recurring motif. It’s bewildering and a bit overwhelming – but isn’t grief?

He begins talking to himself, playing both patient and therapist, lip-syncing to a pre-recorded soundtrack. After a while, his alter ego takes on a form – masterfully embodied by Jermaine Spivey, whose spidery robotic movements precisely map the rhythm of the spoken words.

Eventually, Young rejects his own counsel and reaches out to the temporary escapism of his addiction. In act two, he’s looking for an ‘epiphany’, a quick fix. The tap dancer and mime artist who have already made a brief appearance return as part of a full cast of five – Spivey, along with fellow Kidd Pivot dancers Bryan Arias, David Raymond, Cindy Salgado and Tiffany Tregarthen. Together they put on a vaudeville-style variety show, of which Young is the host. There’s salsa, tap, Charleston, jazz and sinister mime artistry by Tregarthen, while glittery satin costumes, pink feathers and oversized fans bring glorious technicolour to the grey space. Young is cocky and in control, leading the proceedings, quipping with his alter ego as they sashay around the stage.

But then the tide turns. Young is drawn into tight dance sequences – performed expertly in exquisite unison – from which he cannot escape. On his knees, his head is grafted onto puppet’s tiny body. Canned laughter fills the room. The whole thing is trippy and macabre until the collapse.

At the end of the first half, you get the feeling that Young has turned a corner. He’s hit the bottom and must now prepare for the ascent. But hell, it’s not going to be easy.

Sometimes the best thing to do is let movement talk when words fail. And this is what Pite does in act three. Worlds away from the pizzazz of the drug-induced ‘showtime’, the space is now even more bare – just a pillar and a lot of dry ice, the dancers in grey.

As Young climbs out of not only his grief, but his addiction, the pain, the struggle, the fight – it’s all there in fluid, mesmerising contact improvisation. The movement is raw and affecting. Weighted, full of supported lifts, pulling, leaning then pushing away from each other, windmilling down to the ground, jerking and shuddering – the cruel effects of withdrawal. A highlight is a duet by Salgado and Tregarthen of body isolations so fluid and in time that they become one.

Eventually, Young remains with only his alter ago, performing a montage of repeated motifs. He’s building towards recovery, but unlike the suddenness of a tragic accident the ‘coming to terms with it’ is a long, drawn-out process that can possibly never be complete. At the end he exits the room, ready to rejoin the world.

Betroffenheit is a masterpiece. Theatre, dance, spoken word, song, set design (by Jay Gower Taylor), soundscape (by Owen Belton, Alessandro Juliani and Meg Roe), costumes (by Nancy Bryant), lighting (by Tom Visser) – they all join forces to tackle trauma, grief and addiction, complicated emotional states that are universal, yet often too difficult to talk about with words.

In the programme, Young says: “My worst fear was that I would be self-indulgent.” But how can he not be? Despite the layers of abstraction, it’s his story. And the best person to tell it is him.

Samantha Whitaker is an editor and freelance writer. Find her on Twitter @swhit1985

Betroffenheit at Sadler’s Wells 11 and 12 April 2017

The production on 11 April was filmed for broadcast on BBC4 later this year.

ReviewsThu, 01 Jan 1970 01:00:00 +0100