Review: Blueprint at Stratford Circus

Performance: 26 & 27 February 2010
Reviewed by Victoria Hill - Tuesday 2 March 2010

James Wilton and Natasha Cudilla performing in Forest Photo: Gigi Giannella

East London Dance brings Blueprint, part of its Dance Currents Season 2010 to the upbeat surroundings of Stratford Circus and boy, is it a feverish affair. The trump card of tonight’s show is that this conglomeration of British talent is being presented by Kymberlee Jay, award winning choreographer and performance coach who once appeared in adverts for Nike. Her vortex energy flies off the stage and into the audience as the young crowd are roused for battle. Supporters have flocked from across London for featured acts as Chromatic, Botis Seva, MJ Fusion and Keneish Dance and I am both terrified and excited for what has been billed as the latest trends, freshest moves and rough-cut samples to appear on stage.

Rowdiness aside, what Blueprint brings is raw talent, passion and a new generation of young artists who are making radical departures from established norms. New World demonstrate this matchlessly with Look, a stark muse on human vitality and protean authority through synthesising of dance styles. Capoeira meets with acrobatics, contemporary and hip hop in a feat of engineering where a violinist and drummer perform live music and the dancers spill out into the space. They perform effortless back-bends and counterbalances, reverting body parts in a strange, imaginative movement vocabulary that glories in dizzying bouts of virtuosity. Almost from nowhere they plunge into the splits, or dive into the floor with legs that too easily extend backwards like heated metal. Striking hybrid movements that deform the body are matched with contrasting moments where the group pause to watch a female perform a hip hop jam, a cool fluid moment that is propelled by the cracking whip of the drum and elements of folk. Such a heady mix of dance styles is aesthetically pleasing but in a more poetic sense illuminates the notion of the loss of self, the empty chair between violinist and drummer suggesting a place for this new approach to dance in the future.

Danielle Griffin and Dancers present their artistic vision in a milder fashion with Passion Put To Use, a confident and open work commenting on the ties of past love. The piece projects beautiful imagery with dancer Gwen Jones dressed in a white wedding gown. She is joined by two other dancers and the trio throw puddles of movement across the space flicking between soft fluidity and contrasting angular movements, sometimes lifting a foot to the mid line of the body, sometimes rejecting it. The spell of being in this imaginary world as Jeff Buckley’s _*Hallelujah* _plays and the dancers catch and release one another, is powerful and unbreakable. Often Jones’ dress becomes a hindrance and in a stunning moment, she carries another dancer in the train of it, giving the audience a spectrum of possible emotions to experience. Changing out of the dress at the end Jones shows a willingness to move on leaving the past behind.

Other works worth mentioning include Botis Seva with his Place in Between. Inspired by people and the world, his creation deluges the audience with a unique blend of jerky, beating movements and the sometimes vernacular – moments when he kneels facing the audience, evoking contemplation of the human condition as vulnerable. Seva grasps phrasing well as he pulses with Tony Adigun’s music arrangement, creating a gradual dynamic build and showing remarkable commitment to his artistic cause. Pit against this moody piece comes favourite Chromatic with Youthism. A fresco of diversely different dancers aged between 7 and 18 take to the floor in a celebration of break dancing and popping, with the youngest dancer often leading the group in body rocks, gliding and jiving. They rise magnificently to the occasion, performing hopping handstands like b-boys and grinding to the beat of the music. Only when the youngest collides with another dancer do we remember their age and appreciate a maturity beyond their years.

Special guests include James Wilton, Blueprint Bursary Winner 2010 with his piece Forest_._*A Japanese Taiko drum produces a carnal, brutish movement in the dancers; imploding crashes, easy slides and throbbing movements in a scene of fight or flight. The theme of predator and prey stirs excitement and is a subtle comment on today’s arts scene and the value of supporting initiatives like the Blueprint Bursary, which provides production budgets, mentor support and performance opportunities for such young talent. Tonight’s line up advocates that the arts have rarely been in better health and that such investment is producing results to be proud of. To read later then, newspaper columnist *Simon Jenkins’ comment that ‘public investment in the arts is of pretty marginal value’ is to bring a twinge of sorrow to the night’s events. These young artists inspire, stimulate and strengthen our international reputation and bring communities together and I personally have never been more proud.

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