Review: Tongue Tied? at Cochrane Theatre

Performance: 27 February 2010
Reviewed by Sarah Golding - Friday 12 March 2010

Mara Galeazzi, Gala for Africa. 28 Feb, Sadler's Wells. Photo: Samodurov

[Also includes Mara Galeazzi’s Gala For Africa – Dancing for the Children
Sadler’s Wells, 28 February 2010]

Last weekend I attended two charity events raising money for African countries. Not a conscious planning decision on my part, but it provided an interesting point of comparison between the two.

Tongue Tied? (aptly subtitled If your voice was stolen who would you tell?) is an annual performance event made up of dance, music, poetry and comedy, now into its third year. Money raised from the performances goes to support youth dance projects in Zimbabwe and the performing artists were predominantly from that country and the UK.

The evening was hosted by journalist and poet Tererai Karimakwenda. The fact that he is now an exile, unable to return to his own homeland because he has spoken out against the current regime gave the event an extra poignancy, echoed by some of the other performers who talked about Zimbabwe in a heartfelt way.

Tongue Tied? featured four dance acts, starting with youth group M.A.D, from Hackney, with *Who’s gonna listen to you.* _Some of the dancers appeared a little nervous, with a few glances around for cues, but it didn’t detract from the message of their piece: ‘everyone’s talking and nobody’s listening’. A response to society’s judgement of any young person who wears a hoodie, the piece was an interesting and expressive combination of dance, gesture and speech. SIN Cru presented _*Rest In Pieces, a collection of extracts from their repertoire, featuring an impressive fusion of break dancing and contemporary dance. *Avant Garde Youth’s *The Louder I Will Sing* and _*From Day To Day* _performed by Sara Gordon and Kate Zamira Mummery felt more choreographically mature than some of the earlier pieces.

The vital charity projects being supported by Tongue Tied? felt integral to the evening. Mara Galeazzi’s Gala For Africa didn’t have quite the same feeling of connection as an opening film about the charity’s work in South Africa suffered from a technical hitch.

The programme opened with an intense solo performed by Mara Galeazzi and choregraphed by Kristen McNally, communicating the anguish and struggle of those affected by conflict in Africa. The evening was dominated by pas de deux performed by principal dancers from the Royal Ballet. It felt such a privilege to see so many amazing dancers on the stage in one night including Marianela Nunez, Thiago Soares, Edward Watson, Sarah Lamb, Eric Underwood, Gary Avis, Mara Galeazzi, Sergei Polunin and Yuhi Choe.

The highlights for me were Nunez and Soares in an expressive and emotional Act III pas de deux from *Swan Lake*, an extract from Wayne McGregor’s Limen performed by the awe inspiring Lamb and Underwood, and spectacular jumps from Polunin in the pas de deux from *Le Corsaire*. Watson and Galeazzi performed an energised and youthful performance of the Balcony Scene from *Romeo & Juliet*, although moments felt rushed as though they were running to keep up with the recorded music.

Lighter moments included a very funny Bollywood tribute from Four Poofs and a Piano – sans piano; *Saving My Love* _a world premiere from Vanessa Fenton; plus something I never thought I’d see on the Sadler’s Wells stage – a principle of the Royal Ballet doing a tap dance number – brought to us by Steven McRae in his solo _*Something Different*.
Due to illness Michael Nunn and William Trevitt were unable to perform Craig Revel Harwood’s duet *Yumba vs Nonino*. Instead we were treated to a performance by the eight young men who form the new generation BalletBoyz. The company performed Alpha from their current show _*The Talent* _- a fluid and technically demanding contemporary dance piece showcasing the very evident talent of the Boyz’ new recruits. The programme also included notable world premieres from Alastair Marriott and Liam Scarlett.

Even though Tongue Tied? and Gala for Africa were very different in content, both events raised money in a way that demonstrated the passion which all involved had for their respective causes.

Links **Upcoming Royal Ballet performances: www.roh.org.uk
The new generation Balletboyz will be performing The Talent, 18 March, at artsdepot. artsdepot
www.balletboyz.com

More about Tongue Tied?: www.xenarts.co.uk
More about Dancing for the Children: www.dancingforthechildren.com

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