Review: YDE Young Creatives 2010 at Linbury Theatre at the Royal Opera House & touring

Performance: 9 April 2010
Reviewed by Victoria Hill - Monday 12 April 2010

Youth Dance England, Young Creatives.
Choreographer: Daniel Baker. Photographer: Brian Slater
Courtesy of YDE

Since its formation in 2004, Youth Dance England (YDE) has been responsible for developing a National Strategy for Youth Dance and in addressing its brief has come up with an annual project that focuses on choreographers aged 15 – 19, providing them with mentoring, residential workshops and performance opportunities. Young Creatives is in its second year now this year the partner organisations are the Royal Opera House and the Royal Ballet School,withthe thirteen chosen applicants taking part in a three day residency at the famous White Lodge, thanks to the venue’s Education department. Tonight is the culmination of their work and a salute to the diversity of Britain and the talent of those on the cusp of adulthood today.

What is astounding is that half of the dancers are not technically trained, most have nurtured their gift through school or community workshops. Charlie Ford’s _*USO: Disfunction* _is an example of the pleasure that can be generated through watching bodies that are not trapped inside years of technical training and habitual movement. The piece explores the dynamics of friendship and the imagery is striking. The dancers cavort with each other, sticking tape down in squares and un-peeling labels from their bodies, feeding the imagination with the variables of transience and permanence – making pathways and markers of time. Later they sit and watch a roll of tape spin on its axis in a projection, the different shapes indicative of the life cycle of a friendship. Their movement is playful and although not technical, is witty and warm providing richness in such simplicity.

Other pieces are technically astute, notably _*Dying to Remember* _by Jennifer Smith. The work produces a strong pathos with its theme of dementia, Samantha Storey joining Smith in a mother-daughter relationship. They connect beautifully, revealing sincerity and sensitivity, falling and catching, signifying trust. As they engage in the rhythms of action and quiet receptivity, the audience’s attention is held and the poetic symphony of sound by Ahn Trio, makes it even more moody and focused.

The most triumphant performer of the evening is Daniel Baker, [pictured] with his *Mess*, exploring the idea of balance and imbalance, as he canons himself through space, with a geometry of constant tension. He is strong and fluid and dances as though he were in a giant rubbish compressor. Angular, he folds his boiler suited body up, the audience hooked on both his gravitas of talent and the hilarity of the sound score by David Eagleman. As we hear the lyrics ‘An audio that speaks to you wherever you are’ the whole thing becomes cluttered and comes to a smoking point when Baker squats and leaps to a casual standstill suggesting there is more to come – but ending here.

There are a couple of group pieces too; the finale a piece by Bim Malcolmson and Sarah Dowling which delights the audience with belly-slapping laughs as the group buzz, slur, gnarl and heave, drawing forward in duets, solos and groupings. The humour is rife as two females form a bridge position from the floor and chug backwards shouting ‘to me, to you, to me, to you’. The piece is a celebration of individuality, trying for a more free-form approach. There are some of the common faults of beginners; too timid a dramatic attack, lyricism, but the important thing is that young talent gets a chance and that dance as a whole is lively and real and a part of us, as this was.

I was lucky enough to speak to London participant Jake Bennett, audience favourite, who’s piece _*I Can Transform Ya* _was a fusion of street and contemporary dance, exploring a transformation from robot to human. Dragging him away from his tearful mum at the end felt criminal! Still buzzing, the 17 year old insisted that he’d been through a ‘life changing experience’ over the three day residential and that he’d discovered a new found maturity, deeper sense of friendship with the other boys in his trio (he noted that spatially he knows where they are now, like a sixth sense) and more poignantly, that he sees a serious future in dance (mentor and Nike D- Clash dancer Roz Lynch has offered him work experience). He says he’d like to ‘flip the stereotype’ regarding boys dancing and his piece also challenged negative stereotypes of ‘hoodies’ by revealing a human and a personality.

These are ordinary young people, not technically sharp or highly trained dancers yet. What the Young Creatives project does so well is offer them both a creative rite of passage and a rite of passage from childhood to adulthood – one that is too often denied to our youth of today. Watch this space.

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