LondonDance - Latest Articleshttp://londondance.comLatest news and articles from LondonDanceMon, 27 Feb 2017 06:24:02 +0000Thu, 01 Jan 1970 01:00:00 +0100Resolution 2017 - The Place/articles/reviews/resolution-2017-the-place//articles/reviews/resolution-2017-the-place/

Performances reviewed: Tuesday 21st February

You never know what you’re going to get at Resolution!, The Place’s annual festival of new works by emerging dance artists. And on Tuesday evening, we were treated to a healthy mix of diverse and engaging pieces.

WLA No.657005
Watts Dance

First up was WLA No.657005, choreographed by Cecilia Watts and performed by her newly formed company, Watts Dance. Cecilia, who is the daughter of dance writer Graham Watts and a recent graduate of Trinity Laban, took us back to 1940s Second World War Britain with her debut work. And as we entered the auditorium, we were greeted by pianist Robin Porter playing a boogie-woogie number live on stage, setting the scene.

Cecilia’s dancers, dressed in period-style khaki trousers, blouses and headscarfs, are Land Girls – members of the Women’s Land Army, who worked as agricultural labourers during the war when their husbands were called up to fight. They enter in accumulation (a dancer performs a series of movements and the others join in one at a time), joining a mechanical production line with motifs inspired by famous propaganda posters of the era – lifting, carrying, digging.

A fifth girl enters (Alice White), but she wants to have fun and dance around, not work in a field. In an upbeat, lyrical, off-balance, very Alston-esque solo, she flies around the space to a crackly recording of Music Makers by The Andrews Sisters – until a telegram is delivered and suddenly everything changes. After a tortured, floor-based solo, she collapses heavily, overwhelmed by grief. But then, one by one, the Land Girls come to her side, physically lifting her out of the blacknesses. They support her, catch her when she falls and elevate her over their heads in a beautifully executed contact sequence. She strips off her dress and they help her into a uniform like theirs, repeating the mechanical sequence from the start, now as a team of five.

The story is a simple but powerful one, beautifully told by five gifted young performers. And Robin Porter’s haunting compositions provide the perfect accompaniment. Overall, an impressive debut.

Am I a waste of space?
John Livingston Dance

Up next, a solo by John Livingston, a dance artist with Down’s syndrome who challenges the prejudices against disability and difference. Raw and deeply intimate, it feels almost voyeuristic to watch him – like we’re peering through a crack in the studio door, watching someone privately struggle with very intense emotions. Even the title – Am I a waste of space? – makes you want to reach out and offer him comfort, just as he desperately reaches out towards something he can’t see or can’t find. Some truth, perhaps. Some purpose. The motifs are pure, born of improvised choreographic exploration, and his technique, honed during his time with Candoco Dance Company, is strong.

I really wanted to love it, but the movement vocabulary is limited and the pace is unchanging, despite the diverse musical accompaniment by Purcell, Bjork and Anna Calvi.

Alice Weber and Ben Saffer

The final piece begins brilliantly, with dancer and choreographer Alice Weber on stage and a film of her projected behind. The real and projected Alice, in the same white dress, perform a silent duet – sometimes synchronised, sometimes not – and it’s incredibly effective. She’s trying to find herself – her performing self – and her movement is weighted and off-balance with gorgeous hyperextensions. But the sequences are also halting and unpolished, as if she’s rehearsing or testing things out, which is quite beautiful in its freedom. As the music comes in, the pace and energy build and the two Alices fall in sync, windmilling their arms together.

In the second ‘movement’, Merritt Millman joins her on stage as an alter-ego, dressed in black and lit with a red ‘warning’ light. Their duet is energetic and well-rehearsed, a power-struggle full of tension, although it’s unclear who wins. The piece ends with projected time-lapse imagery of flowers opening and closing, which Alice recreates through movement – stretching out of a foetal position, cradling baby motifs, kneeling and rolling around the floor. It’s ok, but it’s not nearly as powerful as the beginning.

12 Jan – 25 Feb 2017
The Place
Box Office: 020 7121 1100

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

ReviewsThu, 01 Jan 1970 01:00:00 +0100
Theo Clinkard Q&A/articles/interviews/theo-clinkard-qanda//articles/interviews/theo-clinkard-qanda/On Thursday evening Danza Contemporánea De Cuba make their Barbican debut with a triple bill of work by leading international choreographers including the company’s own George Céspedes, Olivier award winner Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and the UK’s Theo Clinkard. Clinkard’s The Listening Room premiered in Havana’s Gran Teatro Alicia Alonso in May 2016 and received rave reviews. It is an experimental piece in which the dancers respond to the music they hear in their headphones while the audience listen to an alternative score. Ahead of Thursday’s performance we caught up with Theo Clinkard to ask him about creating this piece with this incredible company.

How did your collaboration with Danza Contemporánea De Cuba come about? In the summer of 2015 I met with the Managing Director of Danza Contemporánea de Cuba and the British Council Dance Department about the opportunity of teaching and making a dance piece with the company as part of the Islas Creativas (Creative Islands) initiative. I was selected for the job and in May 2016 I went to Cuba to work with the company for three weeks. I spent one week teaching workshops and I had just two weeks to make a half hour piece.

What were your impressions of Cuba?
Cuba blew my mind! It is an incredible place. It is insanely beautiful. We lived in a suburb of Havana in a residential neighbourhood. Working in Havana was such a different experience from being a tourist. What was really striking is the spirit of the Cuban people. They are such open, loving, warm, tender and dynamic people. When you walk into the studio every dancer kisses every person in the room. What a way to start! But you soon learn that this Cuban spirit is not confined to the studio, it is a cultural thing.

How would you describe Danza Contemporánea de Cuba? What are they like to work with?
When I began working with them, 10 dancers had just left to go to Carlos Acosta’s new company and 10 new dancers were brought in straight from dance school. These dancers were young with such a rigorous training behind them but they were completely open and hungry for new information. I went into the studio with playful tasks and improvisation and I gave them permission to move how they want to move and for them to write the piece as they dance it. This is an unusual way for these dancers to work because I didn’t go into the studio to teach them steps but they flew with it because dance is so deep in their bones.

What do you think it is about Cuba that produces such talented dancers?
Cuba is such a sheltered island that it has had to develop its own identity and culture. The children play out on the street with the parents sat on a step and there is music everywhere. This is balanced with their rigorous physical training. It provides a brilliant combination, which is a pleasure to work with.

Can you tell me about The Listening Room? What were your ideas behind this piece?
I had such a short space of time that I had to come up with a strategy to work quickly. I usually work alongside a musician but this time I selected a recording of Steve Reich’s Variations for Vibes, Pianos and Strings to form the score of the piece. Normally dance serves the music but I wanted to create a dance that could have its own weight and emphasis. I took 20 MP3 players and headphones to Cuba. I wanted to create a disconnect between the sound and movement of the piece. In the performance, the dancers get to dance to the music on their headphones. The audience, however, listen to a separate piece of music. It creates a situation where the audience have to figure something out rather than being completely provided for as there is this sonic wall between the audience and the dancers.

I had a cast of dancers that know their form and create phenomenal shapes and I was interested in what happens if I put the emphasis on the sound and rhythm because then they don’t have to present their bodies to us. Whatever those dancers do will create interesting shapes so I didn’t want to create imagery with bodies but instead create sound as imagery. The work has a freedom to it and each time I watch it, it is different.

Are there ideas or concepts that you return to a lot in your work? What makes your work distinctive?
I like to create work where the dancers are not replaceable but rather it celebrates their diversity and explores what makes us different. My role of the choreographer is therefore as a host introducing the audience to the dancers and allowing the audience to really get to know them. I trust that my own personal style and signature will come through in what the dancers do on stage but I am not seeking to demonstrate my voice.

I am interested in exploring empathy through dance. The reason why I am making a particular piece of work is because I am trying to find the human connection. Everyone has dance inside themselves and therefore a connection to dancing. I want the audience to connect with what they see on stage and not just with what impresses the eye.

I am not looking for through lines any more in my work. This is what makes it different to dance theatre. It may not have a literal meaning or anything that needs to be explained.

What things help you create or develop new works? Do you have a favourite space, or routine that percolates ideas?
Once I am in the studio I have some basic things that I do to see how the dancers respond. I set tasks and improvisations but I don’t come in and push people in a physical sense. What is important is that they are present in what they are doing but it is not a hard physical graft. In fact, it is the presence of the performers in the piece that I choreograph.

What else is next for you this year?
In May my new full-length production This Bright Field premieres at the Brighton Festival at the Brighton Dome. Brighton Festival and Dome have invited me to become an Associate Artist and have co-commissioned the new show. It is made for 12 dancers and will be touring the UK in October.

If The Listening Room is about listening then This Bright Field is about looking and perception. In the first part of the show half of the audience join the performers on stage where they get to view the performers intimately. There are rooms and corridors on the stage where they may experience private dances. In the second part the audience watch the performers from the auditorium at more of a distance. I am interested in how the eye understands the movement differently having connected more personally with the performers.

What are the challenges of finding the time and space to create new pieces of work for your own company when you are so busy?
It is really hard balancing everything. The administration especially is such a challenge. I spend so much time booking trains and hotels – it is endless! We don’t talk about how much paperwork is involved in running a company. I have a pile of books waiting to be read. I am always trying to find time to read books.

When did you decide you wanted to dance professionally?
It was always clear that that was what I wanted to do. I always danced from waving bits of fabric round dancing to Kate Bush to starting classes aged 6, once a week, locally in Cornwall. I later went to Elmhurst Ballet School. I was offered a place in Royal Ballet Upper School but after a couple of classes I realised that this wasn’t at all for me so instead I went to the Rambert School where I felt I could be myself. My first professional job was in Matthew Bourne’s The Nutcracker.

What has been the stand out moment in your career to date?
Choreographing ‘Somewhat still when seen from above’ in September 2015 for Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch was a massive moment. It is a shame it didn’t tour. Stepping into the studio with my company of 12 dancers, to make a new work was another one and I am also hoping that Thursday evening at the Barbican will be another.

What piece of advice would you give to dancers or choreographers beginning their journey?
It is import to recognise that it is not just about what you do in a studio but about how you engage yourself and what you do with your time. The dancers I work with are all artists in their own right and engage in the dance and the arts independently from me. They have curiosity of the art form and also engage politically and socially. If you are not able to meet people or engage with your peers you can’t expect to have things handed to you.

The practice of empathy is also important in the way that I engage and talk to people because it is what makes us human.

Danza Contemporánea de Cuba
Barbican 23 February
Tickets from £16

InterviewsThu, 01 Jan 1970 01:00:00 +0100
Mercedes Ruiz - Déjame que te baile - Sadler's Wells /articles/reviews/mercedes-ruiz-dejame-que-te-baile-sadlers-wells//articles/reviews/mercedes-ruiz-dejame-que-te-baile-sadlers-wells/

Performance reviewed: February 21

Time flies when you’re watching Mercedes Ruiz dance. Her latest 90-minute show, whose name translates as “let me dance for you”, seems to pass in a whirling flash of footstamps, high spirits and warm camaraderie. You feel as though you’ve been invited to a party.

The Jerez-born dancer has a natural grace, her liquid moves need the minimum of musical accompaniment, and she must have some of the sharpest finger-clicking skills in the business. She lets her musicians and her two singers, particularly the veteran Jerez cantaor David Lagos, draw her dancing out of her: she can be joyful and playful in a festive milonga-garrotín, then transform her energy completely to perform a struttingly masculine martinete in burgundy trouser suit and bolero jacket.

There are no complicated concepts here – just a love of and joy in dancing. For the alegrías, she dons a bata de cola – again her elegant poise means she makes it look easy to swing and flick that long ruffled train around her legs. Her castanet playing is fast and seductive, at times sounding like a rattlesnake.
Ruiz’s soleá may not have the passionate intensity that performers such as Eva Yerbabuena can infuse it with, but you become aware of how beautifully placed her hands and arms are – she turns well-known flamenco gestures, such as an undulating hand running back over her head, as though indicating flowing locks, into something newly marvellous. And in the closing fiesta flamenco section, when you imagine she must surely be exhausted, she takes up a shawl and sends the fringing flying like bursts of fireworks.

Her singers, Lagos and David Carpio, guitarist Santiago Lara and palmeros Javier Peña and Rafael Ramos at this point show off their versatility by easily and cheerfully swapping roles as they all take turns to do a bit of dancing. And then it’s over. “Déjame que te baile?” Ruiz asks us for the last time with a smile – and you’d be happy to let her dance for you all night. An unexpected joy of a show.

Siobhan Murphy is a freelance writer and editor, who also contributes to Dancetabs and Time Out. Find her on Twitter @blacktigerlily

ReviewsThu, 01 Jan 1970 01:00:00 +0100
The Royal Ballet - The Sleeping Beauty - Royal Opera House:/articles/reviews/the-royal-ballet-the-sleeping-beauty-royal-opera-h//articles/reviews/the-royal-ballet-the-sleeping-beauty-royal-opera-h/Performance reviewed: 16 February 2017

A double-dose of The Royal Ballet’s signature production was just the tonic for a cold and blustery February afternoon, in London. This vivacious revival of the Russian masterpiece that came to define the emergence of British ballet in the 1940s, and thereafter, is a delightful, warm, colourful, vibrant, feel-good marvel; all the more so when you throw in a pair of debuts for the two fastest-rising British stars.

So it was for this Wednesday matinee with Francesca Hayward – fresh from being named, just last week, as the Best Female Dancer at the UK National Dance Awards – and Alexander Campbell (a nominee in the Best Male category), both further embellishing their stellar careers with respective debuts as the Princess Aurora and Prince Florimund. If their director, Kevin O’Hare, had chosen a 1-30pm start on a Wednesday afternoon as a means of protecting them from a mass of attention, a full house and the attendance of all the leading critics foiled the plan for any such softly, softly introduction!

It mattered not since these were assured performances in both the leading roles. Hayward portrayed the vulnerable, child-like innocence in Aurora that I have not seen since the early career of Alina Cojocaru, on this same stage. She fought against the early challenge of the Rose Adagio, trying hard not to betray the effort involved in holding these fiendish balances (or, perhaps, more appropriately, allowing her four princely suitors to keep her upright); and she achieved this deceit without diminishing the princess’s radiant splendour. It was, in all senses, a memorable debut; but let there be no doubt that this will be the worst of all her performances in this signature role. At 24, Hayward is fast maturing as a consummate ballerina and each performance will now be honed, closer to that elusive perfection, which alludes even the greatest of dancers.

Campbell had danced the role of the Prince in Sir Peter Wright’s production of The Sleeping Beauty for Birmingham Royal Ballet, but this was also his first outing as Florimund in The Royal Ballet’s “new-old” production and Hayward could not have had a more supportive partner. It is really a one-act ballet for Florimund, in this production, since he does not appear until one hundred years and two intervals have rolled by. The lonely soliloquy for the prince at the beginning of the Vision sequence was sensitively interpreted by Campbell and the male variation in the grand pas suits the lightness and bounce of his ballon, his effortless spinning and the admirable flexibility of elegant jeté en tournants. If there is a criticism – and it’s knit-picking – it comes with the hurried and brusque preparations for the three fish dives.

The reason that Ninette De Valois chose to use the notations smuggled out of Russia, in the throes of revolution, by Nicholas Sergeyev, to mount, firstly, The Sleeping Princess at Sadler’s Wells, in 1939, and then to make such a profound statement for the re-opening of The Royal Opera House, after the war, was that – perhaps more than any other ballet – it needs a considerable depth in strength from a large cohort of dancers. It provides the acid test of a ballet company’s credentials, like no other.

At every level, The Royal Ballet shines. And, for regular balletomanes, there is fun to be had in spotting the changes: Thus, we have perhaps the best modern-day interpreter of the wicked fairy, Carabosse, Elizabeth McGorian, here playing the Queen, on the receiving end of Carabosse’s mime (“You listen, while I speak…”.) delivered with an appropriate sneering menace by Christina Arestis. The solos, in which each minor fairy articulates their gifts to the baby Aurora, were a suite of “old friends”, faithfully rendered by new artists; and their six cavaliers danced strongly and in unison. Beatriz Stix-Brunell gave an effective, albeit youthful, sense of the Lilac Fairy’s benevolent power when faced with Carabosse. And, in the wedding celebrations of the final act, Valentino Zucchetti arched and flew as a sensational Bluebird, excellently supported by Hikaru Kobayashi, as Princess Florine.

The real beauty of this Beauty lies in the gorgeous costume and set designs, originally realised by the genius that was Oliver Messel and authentically reimagined for Monica Mason’s 2006 revival by Peter Farmer, who died, just six weeks’ ago, on New Year’s Day. The contrast between King Florestan’s court before and after its’ hundred year slumber is sumptuously effected. It is a ballet that also, of course, enjoys the most magnificent score with Tchaikovsky’s music, here, warmly rendered by the Opera House orchestra under the direction of Koen Kessels. This is a beautiful production that retains its timelessness; the enchantment regularly refreshed by the injection of new performances such as these.

Royal Opera House
21 December 2016—14 March 2017

Bow Street
Covent Garden
Box Office: 020 7304 4000

Graham Watts is a freelance dance writer and critic. He is a regular contributor to Dancing Times and also writes for, and other magazines and websites in Europe, Japan and the USA. He is chairman of the dance section of the Critics’ Circle in the UK and of the National Dance Awards. Twitter: @gwdancewriter

ReviewsThu, 01 Jan 1970 01:00:00 +0100
Israel Galvan - FLA.CO.MEN - Sadler's Wells /articles/reviews/israel-galvan-fla-co-men-sadlers-wells//articles/reviews/israel-galvan-fla-co-men-sadlers-wells/

Flamenco Festival London – Israel Galván from Sadler’s Wells on Vimeo.

The piece begins with Galvan wearing an apron, taking instructions from what looks like a recipe book or score set on a music stand, trying to listen to the information as it’s read aloud to him. But before long, the rhythmic slaps and stamps of his fine flamenco technique build into comedy, with Galvan’s personality creeping through in nuance, flourish and gesture. This parody of the self whilst demonstrating serious flamenco prowess is a rolling theme that weaves throughout the piece. It takes a comfortable seat in the traditional music sections of thudding, reverberating beats; percussion and footwork to a wild gypsy cry and passionate strumming of the flamenco guitar. It takes deeper roots in the more strikingly abstract moments, where a female singer wails in high pitch, or a violin has a moaning conversation with a horn.

Throughout, Galvan dances with the attitude, bravado and flourish of a highly trained flamenco bailaor, but with quirky edges nuanced with his own charisma and charm that light up the piece with humour, from throw away gestures and tummy slapping to thumb sucking, alongside his excellent technique. But there’s a constant feeling that no matter how hard he tries to stick to the plan that he should follow of how things should be done, he veers off, repeatedly, on his own path.
Galvin likes to play with sense, plunging the whole auditorium into darkness and escaping into the audience where he pops up unexpectedly close to stamp on a round wooden board that he’s carrying. He isn’t afraid of silence either. It all gets a bit John Cage in a couple of places, when he comes to sit at the front of the stage in darkness, swigging from a water bottle, resting it out, leaving us wondering what’ll happen next.

Conceptual elements abound from the recognisably symbolic corset costume, or white flamenco boot used as a drum, then smashed on the stage, indicating freedom from traditional gender stereotype norms, to the bizarre, when a violin is played without notes or the guitarist gets up to dance. But Galvan keeps coming back to the original plan on the music stand, the overarching guide, the pre-ordained design of the action. He clips it to himself as he’s goaded by a traditional male singer but it ends up on his head as the guitarist encourages him with song on one side and a singer shouts “stop” from the other. He shoves it up his top as someone shouts “Silencio!” and the action stops completely. We see a man, an artist, struggling with his artistic vision, trying to free himself from the constraints of tradition, trying to come up with his own plan and concept, to bring to his company; his audience and to his genre.

The evening finishes up with a piccolo and a parody of men performing Spanish folk dancing, until there’s only one girl left on the stage. But for his final hurrah, a call for acceptance, a last push to entertain, Galvan comes back in a red and white flamenco dress to swirl his skirts and flash his pants. His company members have to physically push him off the stage, otherwise we’d still be there now, us enjoying the after party, him enjoying the standing ovation.

At times his idea seems tangled, wrestling with itself even as the performance plays out. But it’s clear that Galvin has come far with the idea of conceptual flamenco and bringing Spanish dance into the modern world.

Katherine Colombus is a columnist, critic and editor. Twitter @Katiecolombus

ReviewsThu, 01 Jan 1970 01:00:00 +0100
THE ROYAL BALLET SCHOOL PRESENTS ITS SPECIAL COLLECTIONS CURATED ONLINE/articles/news/the-royal-ballet-school-presents-its-special-colle//articles/news/the-royal-ballet-school-presents-its-special-colle/

Ballet History Timeline is a new, interactive online tool that relates to the wider history of Classical ballet as a theatre art form.
Set out as an easy-to-explore linear chronology, the Timeline is illustrated by archival treasures from The Royal Ballet School Special Collections, allowing these wonderful items to be seen online for the first time, and appreciated within their proper historical context.
The Timeline is an ongoing project: it currently sets the scene in the 1860s and continues through to 1956, the year in which Dame Ninette de Valois’ School and Companies were awarded a Royal Charter. In due course, the timeline will extend further – back in time, and forward to the present – so that more of the fascinating material held in The Royal Ballet School Special Collections can be explored online.
The Timeline currently features nearly 750 images of items held in The Royal Ballet School Special Collections. It comprises nearly 67,000 words, including detailed image captions, written by The Royal Ballet School’s Manager of Special Collections, Anna Meadmore.
This Ballet History Timeline is not only a fantastic interactive reference, it also an inspiring, free educational resource for students of dance studies. Any direct quotes from authors have been referenced in the text and all sources can be found by clicking the Bibliography tab.
The Royal Ballet School is extremely grateful that this vital work was made possible by generous donations from: Julia Farron, the Foyle Foundation, the Idlewild Trust and an anonymous donor.
Please click on the Ballet History Timeline now to explore

The Royal Ballet School is one of the world’s greatest centres of classical ballet training which for generations has produced dancers and choreographers of international renown – from *Margot Fonteyn, Antoinette Sibley, Anthony Dowell, Anya Linden, Darcey Bussell and Kenneth MacMillan, to a new generation currently making its mark on the world stage – Lauren Cuthbertson, Steven McRae, Edward Watson and Christopher Wheeldon to name but a few.
Admission to the School is based purely on talent and potential, regardless of academic ability or personal circumstances, and 90% of current students rely on financial support to attend the School.
The mission is to train and educate outstanding classical ballet dancers for The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and other top international dance companies, and in doing so to set the standards in dance training, nationally and internationally.

NewsThu, 01 Jan 1970 01:00:00 +0100
ZfinMalta Dance Ensemble – From home with love – Lilian Baylis Studio/articles/reviews/finmalta-dance-ensemble-andndash-from-home-with-lo//articles/reviews/finmalta-dance-ensemble-andndash-from-home-with-lo/

Performance reviewed: 10 February

Malta’s first national dance company started in 2014, with Mavin Khoo, the Malaysian dancer who has collaborated with Akram Khan, Shobana Jeyasingh and Wayne McGregor among many others, as its artistic director. When Valletta becomes European capital of culture next year, it will be one of the flagship projects – this first UK visit offered a peek at its repertoire.

The ensemble piece Home, choreographed by Khoo, presents Jure Gostincar in white underpants, being “born” into a world where he struggles to fit in. The seven other dancers, dressed in black and sporting black clown noses, scamper and chatter like small animals, regarding the newcomer with suspicion and putting him through a vigorous initiation process. They affect a sort of chaotic amorality, like the Minions of Despicable Me renown, squabbling among themselves, showing off masculine rituals and insisting on arcane rules, then mocking the newcomer for not understanding.

Group dances have a loose-limbed energy and an almost hip-hop vitality. Mime gestures are heavily mined, but the physical comedy has a relentlessly dark edge, and things become murkier still when the subject of love is introduced and the dancers split into unsettling, athletic duets of control and resistance. It’s all rather intensely bleak and yet frustratingly opaque, the strange practices of the community we are plunged into deliberately indecipherable. At almost an hour, the piece feels protracted beyond what is comfortable – the final release, when black noses are discarded and everyone sambas, is the most enjoyable bit, but over before you know it.

Kick the Bucket is a duet created by the former NDT dancer Iván Pérez (the choreographer behind the Balletboyz piece Young Men), danced by Khoo and Gabin Corredor. There is a recognisable muscular collision of bodies here: the dancers’ arcing limbs pass over and around each other; sequences of complicated holds unfurl across the stage; they use each other’s axis to fluidly propel the next move; and the height discrepancy between the two is cleverly absorbed into the choreography.

Khoo’s monologue at the start, which talks about how we use words to “cover up mystery with a label” and only see a “surface layer of reality that is less than the tip of an iceberg” is not entirely helpful. What emerges, rather, from this piece is a portrait of dependency, with all the strengths and weaknesses that implies. As one dancer fades and falls away from the duet, the other tries to revivify them, pushing, pulling, at one moment angry, in the next consoling. At times, they are like a parent and child, or a pair of lovers, or best friends who can’t be apart. Pérez reaches for extreme emotions – and says he is aiming for something more positive than the title implies. And Khoo and Corredor, as they grapple with each other and fight against losing their partner, do, slowly, seem to derive strength from letting go.

Siobhan Murphy is a freelance writer and editor, who also contributes to Dancetabs and Time Out. Find her on Twitter @blacktigerlily

ReviewsThu, 02 Nov 2017 00:00:00 +0000
We Raise Our Hands In The Sanctuary - Albany/articles/reviews/we-raise-our-hands-in-the-sanctuary-albany//articles/reviews/we-raise-our-hands-in-the-sanctuary-albany/It’s not so often that we see club culture referenced in theatrical productions but We Raise Our Hands In The Sanctuary is a show, developed as part of the Albany Theatre’s Hatched new writing programme, which combines dance and theatre to forcibly shout out about queer club culture: its political and social significance and its vibrant contribution to society. Although the play is set in the politically troublesome 80’s when extreme racial and homophobic tensions abounded and social panic about AIDS escalated, it is highly topical now as we see LGBT venues closing in London and clubbing losing its appeal.

The show’s directors, Daniel Fulvio and Martin Moriarty (Inky Cloak) together with choreographer Mina Aidoo have succeeded in producing text and choreography that complement each other. Both possess an easy naturalness, accessibility and fluidity which is also facilitated by the cross- shaped stage and multiple performance spaces. Language is down-to-earth and subject matter is neither sensationalized nor over sentimentalised, while the characters are realistic.

The narrative through witty monologues by drag performer Brandi, played by Carl Mullaney, sets the scene of the time, the highs and lows experienced by the struggling gay community. She’s an excessive, ridiculous, older Diva and initially a bitch to the younger guys but eventually becomes a nurturing mother figure as well as valid social commentator. Jahvel Hall and Oseloka Obi respectively play friends Michael, an ambitious DJ and earnest student Joseph whose close bond is threatened by ambition, drugs and survival. Dean Graham, as power hungry club promoter Paul, is a duplicitous, lecherous white man who has a weakness for young, black flesh. However he also earns our empathy, as he endeavours to carve out a thriving queer space and deals, like the others have to, with his father’s rejection.

Dancers Jordan Ajadi and Shawn Willis provide the physical depiction of black, gay sexuality. Their seamless morphing of a variety of dance styles from the day, contemporary dance, voguing, disco ballroom and aerobics display incredible aptitude and versatility. While they are projected, sometimes reductively as explicit bodies to be consumed, they drive the show with their effortless and unashamed eroticism. Aidoo prevents the choreography from becoming too commercial or stereotypical through her blending of athletic dance steps, unusual postures and lifts. When we recognise a style, such as voguing, it quickly transforms into another move from a different style. There’s something refreshingly unpredictable about it but it’s a pity there isn’t more interaction between actors and dancers, as they do seem quite separate.

Music reflects the disco of the day and its evolution into House music, and we remember the likes of Tony de Vitt and Frankie Knuckles. Just like the choreography, it’s a clever collage of recognisable, tantalising extracts by Xana. All that’s missing I feel, is a live DJ on the decks throughout the performance.
We Raise Out Hands In The Sanctuary celebrates and revitalises an incredible time but while it reminds us about how far the LGBT community has come, it also warns us about the serious threats to its continuity and development.

The Albany
Douglas Way
SE8 4AG.
Box Office 020 8692 4446
More information and ticket booking

31 January – 11 February
£15 (concessions available)

Josephine Leask is a lecturer in Cultural Studies on the BA (Hons) degree course at the London Studio Centre and London correspondent for The Dance Insider.

ReviewsSat, 02 Sep 2017 00:00:00 +0100
Chase Johnsey's unlikely success is a bold and beautiful victory for ballet/articles/reviews/chase-johnseys-unlikely-success-is-a-bold-and-beau//articles/reviews/chase-johnseys-unlikely-success-is-a-bold-and-beau/ReviewsWed, 02 Aug 2017 00:00:00 +0100Meet the teacher - Lizzi Kew Ross /articles/interviews/meet-the-teacher-lizzi-kew-ross//articles/interviews/meet-the-teacher-lizzi-kew-ross/Lizzi Kew Ross teaches on the BA, Graduate Diploma and MA courses at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, and is also a choreographer.

What was it that first drew you to dance?
My mother was a journalist and actor, so theatre and music was a large part of our family life. I remember going to a dance class at Battersea Arts Centre in the 1970’s, and then on the way home dancing all over Clapham Station thinking, ‘I can do this, I love this!’ I was thinking of training as an actor, but I felt dance reached something different in me – it was how I wanted to express myself that was ‘true’ for me.

What is your favourite thing about teaching at Trinity Laban?
I enjoy the discussion in the studio with the students and the sense of creating work together. There is a huge reward to see people in the ‘act of becoming’. The generosity of the students toward each other can be a hallmark of dance education, and that collaborative dynamic in a studio makes life very rich. My colleagues are hugely important to me, as that sharing of ideas, approaches and artistic life opens up and furthers my world and how I live in it.

You are the Artistic Director of Lizzi Kew Ross & Co, could you tell us more about this?
During 2012 I worked on a piece – Without Warning – with a multi-talented creative team including the composer Natasha Lohan. It was shown at the Laban Theatre and then at The Old Vic Tunnels underneath Waterloo Station. The performers were all alumni from Trinity Laban, musicians and dancers, and I created the company during that time. Since then, we have worked on Reading with Bach for libraries and Edgelands for gallery spaces.

Being Here – Rehearsal Footage for St. Pauls Cathedral from Lizzi Ross on Vimeo.

What has been your favourite choreographic credit and why?
Although Without Warning was demanding for us all, (Fay Patterson the lighting designer had to wire the tunnels, and the cast looked like dust gatherers during our time there), it was a significant moment in my thinking and creating site specific work. It was hugely exciting seeing dancers and musicians working interchangeably, and 3 underground tunnels with the trains from platforms 1-3 rumbling overhead become central to the ideas and images in the work. Since then, I have created work for churchyards with composer James Keane and another of my favourites was a commission for Dance United with musician Ruth Elder at 2 Temple Place during the William Morris exhibition Speak but one word to me. Being in that beautiful space with the artist’s work surrounding us, was a tonic and inspirational.

Where, what and who do you draw inspiration from?
Where: I visit art galleries and theatre.
What: Poetry, music and film are a constant in my life.
Who: The people I love and learning about the working methods of others artists. I return all the time to Tarkoksy’s fims and I am interested in the process of editing – the skill of reduction and finding the necessity of things.

Do you have a piece of advice that has always stuck with you and who was it said by?
Almost everything that Jane Dudley, ex-Graham dancer and teacher at The Place said during my time there: “What are you saving yourself for?”, and the choreography teacher Nina Fonoroff said “have a big waste paper basket” and “go away and start again”. Also the enigmatic statement “leave yourself alone!”.

Do you have any upcoming projects we should know about?
I have two projects are on the horizon: Stations of the Resurrection at St Pauls Cathedral April 26th 7pm with video artist Mark Dean, curated by Lucy Newman Cleeve, and dancers Henry Montes, Sonia Rafferty, Alice Sara, Morrighan McGillverary, and Dave Waring, with costume designer Suzie Holmes.
Secondly, a piece based on the Shipping Forecast for the 150th anniversary of the Cutty Sark 2019 at the Cutty Sark with composer Josh Spear and film maker Ros Chesher.

For more information please visit Lizzi Kew Ross website.

no marks on the map from james keane on Vimeo.

InterviewsSun, 02 Jul 2017 00:00:00 +0100
Meet the teacher - Shamita Ray/articles/interviews/meet-the-teacher-shamita-ray//articles/interviews/meet-the-teacher-shamita-ray/Shamita Ray offers classes, workshops and retreats in Vinyasa Flow Yoga, a fluid and energising practice which builds strength, develops flexibility, and brings calmness and clarity to the mind. Prior to becoming a yoga teacher, she was a dancer and choreographer for twenty years, specialising in contemporary dance and Indian dance (bharatanatyam). She worked with international choreographers including Shobana Jeyasingh and Wayne MacGregor, but has now retired from dancing to concentrate on full time teaching. She uses her background as a dancer to choreograph imaginative yoga sequences that move seamlessly from one posture to another, in a dance-like flow of breath and movement. She enjoys being creative in her classes, and loves challenging practitioners to discover what their bodies are truly capable of, while maintaining a sense of humour and playfulness.

How did you get in to teaching?
I graduated as a dancer in 1993, and started looking for any work I could get – a lot of the time it was teaching work that came up. I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed performing too, but when I eventually retired from performing, I discovered I didn’t miss it at all. I started teaching yoga in 2010, and I currently divide my time between teaching both dance and yoga. I love it.

You teach yoga at Trinity Laban, what do you like the most about this class?
I love getting people to realise what their bodies are capable of – getting someone into a new pose for the first time, for example. I love it when people see their bodies – and lives – changing as they practice. I love opening doors for people.

In what ways do you think that yoga can benefit dancers?
Yoga can be beneficial on many levels, but the way that it has been most remarkable in my life is that it has kept my body healthy into middle age. In my twenties and thirties I was a strong and flexible dancer in a way that most dancers are. But now, I am 47, and doing yoga poses I wouldn’t imagine my body would be capable of at this age. I don’t mean to say that I am anything amazing – what I do mean, is that yoga is the thing that is amazing.

You also make your own work, how would you describe your choreography?
I don’t make work professionally any more. I do however teach contemporary dance to undergraduate students at Creative Academy, Slough, and enjoy making pieces on the students. I love work which is dynamic, quirky, idiosyncratic, and connects to the music.

What would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?
I love watching my students on stage, especially when they are graduating – it gives me such pride, love and satisfaction. Beats performing myself any day.

What one piece of advice would you give to an aspiring dancer?
Enjoy it! It won’t last forever.

What is your favourite non-dancing activity or hobby?
I am exploring a new direction in philanthropy right now – it’s early stages, so I can’t say much, but I am hoping this will become the next chapter in my life.
If you hadn’t chosen this career, what might you be doing?
I still play with the idea of getting a ‘normal’ job one day…

Shamita Ray teaches general level yoga at Trinity Laban on Wednesday 18.45 – 20.15h and Saturday 09.00 – 10.30h. For more information visit the Trinity Laban website. Shamita also delivers on the summer school taking place in 17 – 28 July 2017.

Shamita’s classes and retreats for 2017 are open for all, please click here for more information

InterviewsSun, 02 Jul 2017 00:00:00 +0100
Sampled - Sadler's wells /articles/reviews/sampled-sadlers-wells//articles/reviews/sampled-sadlers-wells/

Sampled 3 and 4 February 2017

Sampled in its bid to attract new audiences as well as stimulate interest amongst existing ones, transforms Sadler’s Wells into a dynamic, interactive exhibition centre and presents not only a cross-section of choreographic gems, but also workshops, demonstrations, live- DJ’ing and Beatboxing.

The line-up of Russell Maliphant Company, dotdotdot dance, Julia Hiriart Urruty & Claudio Gonzalez, Shobana Jeyasingh Dance, Dorrance Dance, Northern Ballet and Iron Skulls Co covers eclectic territory from contemporary, flamenco and tango to ballet, tap and hip hop. What’s refreshing is that each sample offers a rather different ‘take’ on the style it represents. There’s something for everyone in the line- up and although some of the pieces feel a little truncated, and one too long (it’s a logistical marathon showcasing seven different companies) they nevertheless do succeed in whetting the appetite for more.

The all-women Dotdotdot’s I come to my body as a question reinterprets the macho lyrics of the flamenco style Guajira through a female perspective. Toni Stuart’s luscious, multi-layered poetry in dialogue with a flamenco singer, guitarist and the three dancers, explore the sensuous delights and power of the female body. Stuart’s silky, evocative voice clashes with the raucous traditional singing, throbbing guitar and assertive dancing. Yinka Esi Graves’ piece communicates through combining quirky movements with traditional flamenco steps and works as an experimental conversation between art forms.

Shobana Jeyasingh’s excerpt from Bayadere – The Ninth Life, deconstructs both Petipa’s ballet of La Bayadere but also the Eurocentric writings of French dance writer, Theophile Gautier, as he describes his reactions to watching Indian temple dancers when they visited Europe in 1838. Jeyasingh unsettles the male gaze by having male dancer, Teerachai Thobumrung, embody the eroticised, exoticised female temple dancer who both repelled and excited Gautier. Her choreography reveals a series of conflicts between race and gender as well as reflecting on Gautier’s disorientating experience as he swings between pleasure and repulsion. Aggressive, staccato gestures juxtapose with languorous, repetitive turns as this web of narratives morph from fantasy to fiction.

Spanish experimental hip hop company, Iron Skulls Co describe a dystopian nightmare, as members of their crew emerge uneasily from the auditorium, wearing gas masks and lit only by torches. Urgent and sinister their performance demonstrates competent contemporary dance techniques as well as hip hop and Sinestesia departs from the predictable aesthetics of much commercial street-dance to arrive at an imaginative alternative. While the piece sags and drags in the middle, it has its gripping moments. Iron Skulls is a company to look out for.

Argentinian tango dancers, Julia Hiriart Urruty & Claudio Gonzalez sell tango through their message in La otra cara de la Moeda that anyone can embrace it regardless of shape or size, as long as you connect with your partner. Enveloped in fat suits and bursting at the seams of their glitzy costumes, the pair display sizzling synchronicity and sharpness of footwork that remain unhampered by the layers of padding. They have the audience roaring with delight.

There’s yet more invention with American tap company Dorrance Dance. Under the directorship of Michelle Dorrance, the dancers in Boards & Chains replace music accompaniment with their own organic rhythms, polyrhythms, dynamics and counterpoint, created by articulate tapping and the manipulation of large, jangly chains. Even if you are not a fan of tap-dance, Dorrance Dance’s skill and resourcefulness are compelling.

While less off-beat in content, Still by Russell Maliphant and Kenneth Tindall’s extract from Casanova, are both seductive selling points for contemporary dance and ballet in their poetic subtlety. Still, a muscular solo by Dickson Mbi which segues into a duet with Carys Staton reveals how light projected on the body transforms actions through the interplay of light and dark. Mbi emits a grounded zen quality in the storm of Armand Amar’s intense drumming score and as light both conceals and frames parts of his body, it’s spell-binding. Tindall’s ballet is represented by an enigmatic and atmospheric scene in which a group of monks are clearly agitated. Movement is enhanced through the elegant monk’s habits as they turn anxiously, extend limbs out into space or huddle together in a paranoid close-knit community.

As Sampled goes on tour, made possible through The Movement, a producing partnership between The Lowry and Birmingham Hippodrome, it is bound to convert new fans to dance; but of a discerning kind.

Friday 24 to Saturday 25 February at The Lowry, more information and for tickets please click here
Friday 3 to Saturday 4 March at Birmingham Hippodrome, more information and for tickets please click here

Josephine Leask is a lecturer in Cultural Studies on the BA (Hons) degree course at the London Studio Centre and London correspondent for The Dance Insider.

ReviewsFri, 02 Jun 2017 00:00:00 +0100