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Tag: contemporary dance review

MB New Adventures ROMEO & JULIET | Review

MB New Adventures ROMEO & JULIET | Review

Sir Matthew Bourne’s company, New Adventures, are frequent visitors to The Lowry in Salford Quays. The were the second ever company to perform there when the theatre was newly built, and as such, scedule tour dates at The Lowry around twice a year. Last year, I reviewed their infamous Swan Lake, which you can read here Matthew Bourne’s New Adventure SWAN LAKE Review and now they have a 5 night stop with Romeo & Juliet.

As with all Matthew Bourne’s productions, expect the unexpected. Yes, this is a tragic story of two clandestine lovers, but definitely not the one you will be familiar with. From the very first glimpse of the production, you know you’re in for a treat. The dramatic fall of the blood red sheer curtain sets the tone for the whole show, as does the stark and clincal white stage set revealed behind it.

It’s difficult for me to write this review without giving too much away, and as art is subjective, I want you to be able to come to your own conclusions of the plot. What I will say is rather than having 2 familes at war, Sir Matthew has created the segregation but as a boy/girl gender divide. I felt that Romeo & Juliet have a sort of role reversal. Romeo (Paris Fitzpatrick) being the unsure, deer in headlights, damsel in distress, who is taken under the protective wings of Juliet (Cordelia Braithwaite). She is a character who knows what she wants, and how to get it, and certainly seems to take the lead in their duets together.ROMEO AND JULIET

The contemporary dance style compliments this new theme and plot. Bold, strong and accented steps along side some very lyrical, soft and at times, practically floating sequences, match the themes of lust and true love, violence and submission. I particularly enjoyed the guttural noises, audible heavy breathing and stamps in unison, adding yet another intriguing layer. Of course, the original score by Prokofiev allows for such yin yang choreography, however, even the music is different! This version has had a brand new reworking of the original music, and it has been so intricately intertwined with the story.ROMEO AND JULIET

Fear not, for there are some things which cannot be unwritten. What holds are 2 young people finding eachother against the odds and declaring their undying love for one another. Finding a bond so strong that they would (and do) die for each other. Expect a lot of blood, which contrasts perfectly with the bleached white surroundings. The aftermath is a bloodbath, horror film worthy vision!

Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures ROMEO & JULIET is appearing at The Lowry 11-16th June. Tickets are still available via The Lowry https://thelowry.com/whats-on/matthew-bournes-romeo-and-juliet/

Dance Niche

Mark Morris Dance ‘PEPPERLAND’ Review At The Lowry

Mark Morris Dance ‘PEPPERLAND’ Review At The Lowry

PEPPERLAND first premiered in 2017, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club album. Since then, the show has seen great success, prompting a nationwide tour.

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Usually with a dance piece, the choreography follows some sort plot or story, and the moves help to reflect and convey the emotions within that. Pepperland, however, doesn’t really follow that familiar structure. It’s inspiration is drawn directly from the songs off the iconic Beatles album; Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. So rather than a traditional beginning, middle and end, you’re thrust right into the height of the action, no ebbs and flows here!

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Mark Morris’s choreography is light, springy, and not over complicated however repetitve phrasing execucted in numerous canons, being danced in mulitple directions, not only creates interesting patterns visually, but will have taken many hours in rehearsals to make precise. There are definite nods to the great Bob Fosse, who was a prolific choreographer of the time the album was released, his unique style instantly recognisable. There is a definite carefree feel within the dancing, and at times, reminiscent of a toddler dancing, with wild arm movements and bold shapes, ploughing in head first. If you have children, or are often around children, you’ll know what i mean. When a toddler dances, the music takes over them. They care not about what people think or whether they are moving rhythmicly, only about expressing what is within.

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The costumes, by Elizabeth Kurtzman represent the era of the album perfectly, without being too distracting. Well tailored jackets and trousers, turtle necks, waistcoats, pinafore dresses and duster coats are all present, but surprisingly, still give the dancers freedom of movement and full range of motion. The colours are a neon rainbow of colour blocking heaven, a live pop art visual!

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With the music being such an integral part of the production, it’s only fitting that a live band play the accompaniment. The score includes well known hits such as Get By With A Little Help from My Friends, When Im Sixty Four and Penny Lane, with a new, almost jazz feel to the reworks.

PEPPERLAND perfectly encapsulates the era of the 60’s with it’s light hearted,spirited and vibrant homage to the wonderful music of The Beatles. The Lowry creates the perfect backdrop for this production, with it’s modern and minimalistic decor and eaqually vibrant colours.

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Hosted by Dance Consortuim (a collection of theatres across the UK who share a passion of contemporary dance and bringing it to the masses) Pepperland continues it’s tour to Bradford, Edinburgh, Canterbury, Cardiff, Plymouth, Southampton, Norwich, Newcastle and finally Belfast. All dates, locations and ticket information can be found on their website https://www.danceconsortium.com/touring/mark-morris-pepperland/tour-dates-and-venues/

Dance Niche

National Dance Company Wales AWAKENING Tour Review

National Dance Company Wales AWAKENING Tour Review

Having been a resident in Wales for almost 14 years now, these rolling hills are most definitely home, however I’m ashamed to say I have yet to watch the National Dance Company Wales perform! That is, untill, I was invited to review their current tour AWAKENING, and what’s even better, the performance would be at my local theatre Theatr Clwyd. I love supporting local independent theaters, as it would be such a loss to communities if they disappeared. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance!

NDCW are a contemporary dance company based at the Dancehouse in the Millenium Centre, Cardiff. They aim to provoke people into discovering dance, talking thinking and understanding, as well as participating. They tour around Wales, and the UK as well as overseas, bringing their works to people who may not otherwise get a chance to watch. Their current tour AWAKENING is a triple bill.

AFTERIMAGE

This piece will have you at war with what you see and what you think you see. The term ‘seeing is believing’ both applies and does not, at the same time. By the end of the 20 minute performance, you will have changed your mind at least 10 times on how the effects were achieved, or put it down to sheer sorcery!

The stage is set with a large mirror as the backdrop, with a simple table and 2 chairs infront of it. A man sits on one of the chairs. As he starts to move, so too, does his refelction. He looks at his reflection, almost pondering it, then lools back into his hands. Suddenly, we see another dancer on the opposite side of the table, but no other dancer has entered the stage, she is interacting with the dancers reflection!

What ensues is the most magicical illusion of dancers acting and reacting with one another on stage or their reflections, fading in and out into the darkness. As the tension builds in the music, so do the dancers interactions, becoming more intense, with more dancers fading in and out. I can only describe them as ghosts at a seance, trying to connect to the physical world. Spirits and souls inahbiting the bodies on the stage. It’s truly a spectacle, and the auditorium was a buzz with thoughts and theories well after it had ended.

THEY SEEK TO FIND THE HAPPINESS THEY SEEM

A duet with a danceworks that echoes relationships. One of finding eachother and happiness, moving as one, blissfully unaware of anything else apart from the significant other. There was real tenderness to their movements.

But just as much as they are together as one, so too are they their own seprate entities. Occasionally breaking away from one another, going in seperate directions and finding their own movements and rhythms.

The tension and speed at which they were moving kept building until the end, when they came together again. They showed such strength and control in their bodies, it was as if watching in slow motion. And just like a circle, everything comes back to the beginning, and they were as one again.

REVELLERS’ MASS

My favorite piece. The music started as an acapella choir, what you might imagine hearing in a small secluded church, tucked away in italian hills. A huge altar was set on stage, with the candles being progressively lit by the ‘master’. The others were walking and moving in a calm, hushed manor. In hind sight, the proverbial quiet before the storm.

The master became the conductor, as he summoned others at his beck and call. Their movements became so intense and erratic, it appeared they had been possessed, and the master was performing some sort of exorcism ritual. This intense chaos slowly spread like a fever to the rest of the dancers, convulsive and explosive. This high tempo, agressive feel stayed for longer than was comfortable, tension remained high. Then just as suddenly as the storm came, it passed. But the mess and destruction left behind was plain to see.

The final scenes are reminiscent of the day after the night before house party. Everyone slightly bewildered, listless, faced with the mamouth task of tidying up and someone always has to be dragged off to recover!

All in all, AWAKENING triple bill was an evening of fascination, connection and power. It leaves you questioning the boundaries of dance and it’s power to convey ideas and provoke thoughts long after you’ve left the auditorium. It stays with you.

AWAKENING will stop at The Hafren Newtown on Thursday 21st on March, before continuing on it’s nationwide tour, finishing in May. More details of dates and venues can be found on their website https://ndcwales.co.uk/awakening

*special thanks to Guy and Nia from NDC and Theatr Clwyd*

Dance Niche

Rambert – A Linha Curva

Rambert – A Linha Curva

Sitting down to watch the famous Rambert Company put on their production at my local theatre – Theatr Clwyd, I was not sure what to expect. I’ve seen productions before, but non quite like this! It consists of individual, very distinct pieces, each with their own feel , costumes and choice in music, not to mention the style of dancing in each piece! It’s almost like separate productions, which most certainly keep you entertained the whole way through, interest never waning.

The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses

The opening scene is that of a house, with a table and chairs, a window, a bed and various doors. This piece is based upon a short animation film ‘Tango’ released in 1981. It begins with a woman sat motionless at the table, staring intently in front. She never moves. Slowly, one by one, we are introduced to new ‘characters’, the boy with the ball, the school girls, the loved up couples, the couple who’ve obviously had an argument, the woman with the baby, the athlete, the toilet repair man, the woman with shopping bags, the bedraggled woman still in her nightdress, and my favourite – the man in a twee Jumper carrying a Christmas tree! They enter through the various doors (with slams echoing the music) or window, with their own set movements lasting a couple of bars, moving individually around the room, then exiting before appearing again to perform the exact same movements. Like layers of paper mache, it begins with just one solitary story, then builds as each new character enters, ending in a bustling room full of people living their daily lives, yet never colliding, the rhythm of life. As you watch, you get a real sense of just how habitual humans are, stuck in a never ending cycle, Groundhog Day.

Symbiosis

An altogether different feel, contrasting greatly from the first piece. Symbiosis begins with a slatted screen, curving in the centre, an almost sun like shape, silhouetted by a stark bright light behind. The sinister music immediately puts you on edge – the type of music in a film where the main character is being hunted down or similar stressful situation. This is also reflected in the dancing, with the dancers interacting with each other and the choreography much more athletic, almost acrobatic. For me, it took on an Eastern feel part way through, with the constant humming of a gong bath, and the lighting behind changing to red, which with the shape of the slatted scenery, was reminiscent of the Japanese flag. This was also echoed in the choreography, becoming Thai Chi like in execution – controlled and purposeful yet fluid and free flowing. Again, the music and choreography are cleverly brought together, with athletic jumps that upon landing, echoed the beat being played by the live orchestra, adding yet another level to the percussion.

A Linha Curva

This makes a huge impact on curtain up, being dazzled by the reflective collars of the dancers, and the bellowing sound of them chanting, enough to startle you! This tribal theme is also represented in the music, which I defy you not to move in your seat to! There is a section that is acapella , with only the sounds of the jumps, claps and grunts of the dancers dictating the rhythm. We then see a group of male dancers and a single solitary female dancer. This section takes on that of a courting ritual of the bird of paradise – each male displaying his skills of athleticism, hoping to woo the female. The woman then decides she can dance better than her suitors, showing them just how it ought to be done, accompanied by the whoops and cheers from the men which are almost cat calling like. So the boys are left to their own devices and naturally, rivalry kicks in. What can only be described as a testosterone filled dance off between the alpha males. Then the climax. With music straight from a carnival in Brazil, and individual squares of brightly coloured lighting creating a grid on the floor of the stage. It’s such an intricate piece, with each dancer staying within a square of light, but still using the whole space of the stage. It’s hard to tell if the dancers are following the light patterns, or the lights are following the dancers. The precision needed by the dancers to perform the choreography yet train within their meter squared space is commendable. You cannot help but be swept away by the party atmosphere with this last piece, an audible and visual delight to conclude the production!

I must mention that there was a woman to the right of the stage, miming the music. She was so intricate in her movements that a first glance, I thought she was actually playing an instrument. This just goes to show how integral the music is to the whole of the production, that it requires someone to mime and explain the sounds of each piece to those with hearing difficulties, thus giving them the complete experience.

Rambert are performing at Theatr Clwyd until Saturday 10th March. Tickets are still available. To book, call the box office on 01352 701521 or visit their website www.theatrclwyd.com

They then head off to continue their tour with A Linha Curva and other productions at the following places;

Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

Thu 15 – Sat 17 Mar 2018

www.atgtickets.com

Theatre Royal Brighton

Wed 21 – Sat 24 Mar 2018

www.atgtickets.com

New Victoria Theatre, Woking

Tue 27 – Thu 29 Mar 2018

www.atgtickets.com

Sadler’s Wells, London

Tue 22 – Sat 26 May 2018

www.sadlerswells.com

Bergen International Festival, Norway

Wed 6 Jun 2018

www.fib.no

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

Thu 22 – Sat 24 Nov 2018

www.capitaltheatres.com

All this information can also be found on Rambert’s website www.rambert.org.uk

Dance Niche

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