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Tag: the lowry

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/

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A closer Look at The Lowry’s Artist Development Programme

A closer Look at The Lowry’s Artist Development Programme

Breaking out as a new emerging artist can be a minefield, particularly in today’s society, where it’s increasingly harder to come up with an original concept, that will set you apart from the rest. Once you’re clear upon your core foundations, where do you go from there? How do you find the money for rehearsal space when there’s no revenue coming in? How do you promote your concepts in an engaging way that will emplore people to watch you? These are some of the questions that the team behind The Lowry’s Artist Development Programme help their mentees to answer.

The Artist Development Programme has been helping creatives under the huge arts genre umbrella for 10 years, and to celebrate it reaching a decade old, the programme has undergone some positive changes. There are 4 unique strands to the bespoke service, which aim to helps artists at any stage of their development – from the nurturing of an idea, right through to building career longevity.

THE LOWRY ARTIST NETWORK

This strand builds the foundations. It’s a drop-in scheme providing workshops, training, advice and opportunities to connect with like minded people.

THE LOWRY CLASS OF 2019

Upon successful application, selected artists are offered tailored training sessions towards their goals.

THE LOWRY DEVELOPED WITH ARTISTS

Geared towards those who ready have a clear identity and works, they receive a year long mentorship programme to help project and create new pieces.

THE LOWRY ASSOCIATE ARTISTS

A long standing relationship between mentor and artist, this strand looks at ways to raise the national and international profile of the artist or company, and how to build a career that is sustainable for the future.

I was kindly invited along to the annual Artist Showcase, and had a chance to see and hear about some wonderful and unique acts, in various different stages of their career, and just how The Lowry has helped them achieve their personal goals. The acts performing were all so varied – musical theatre, drama, comedy, dance, ariel art – it was a thoroughly entertaining day, and a real insight into the workings of getting a simple idea off the ground and onto the stage. I spoke with Claire Symonds, senior producer for Artist Development to dig a bit deeper into what the programme is all about………

DN. Your artist development programme is celebrating it’s 10 year anniversary this year. Why was the programme started?

CS. We initially wanted to make sure we had a stream of premieres, often from locally based companies, so that our programme would stay fresh and exciting to our audiences. We started offering opportunities to artists and companies whose work we loved to make something new for our stage. We then quickly found that the most exciting shows were made when the artist or company was taking a bit of a risk – working in a new way or trying to reach a new audience – and we started thinking about how we might be able to support them in taking those risks, which is where our focus on artist development started.

DN. To honour the programme being a decade old, some changes were made to the structure and tiers. Why were these changes important and what do you hope it will improve/achieve?

CS. We believe in the importance of supporting an artist over and above any single piece of work they might be making. We wanted to make sure we had the right structures in place to help us do that. We now offer four different programmes – Artists Network, where we host drop-in training and networking events for anyone wanting to build their career in the performing arts; Class Of 2019, which brings together a group of local early career practitioners for a year-long course of masterclasses and development opportunities; Developed With, where we offer six artists or companies a 12-month programme of bespoke support as they make a step change in their career, and Associate Artists, where we build long term relationships with companies and artists as they build their profile nationally and internationally. This structure means we can support an artist at a precise moment of need or take them right from their very first steps through to where they are touring their work around the world.

DN. Who has been your biggest success story?

CS. That is a hard question because every project has its own highlights! We’ve supported the creation of some amazing shows, like Theatre Ad Infinitum’s Translunar Paradise which has won awards and five star reviews around the world. But some of the things I see as the biggest successes of the programme are less about a single show and more about the journey the artist or company has been on. For example, we supported Sophie WIllan through Developed With as she made the move from theatre to comedy and watching the audience react to her electric first stand up hour, On Record, is something I’ll remember for a long time.

DN. Who has been the most unique artist?

CS. Every artist brings their own unique challenges but I’ll always remember working with Igor and Moreno, a contemporary dance duo whose last show, Andante, was performed through an impenetrable wall of scented theatrical smoke. That project was exciting because I genuinely didn’t know if it was going to be possible to make their creative ideas a reality. There were bumps along the way, especially one tricky afternoon where I had to evacuate the whole studio complex because smoke was flooding all our rehearsal spaces, but the show itself was fantastic.

DN. What are your hopes for the future with the programme?

CS. I hope we work with artists across an even wider range of artforms and, in doing so, create opportunities for different artists to learn from each other’s approaches. I hope we carry on being open, honest and curious alongside the people we’re supporting, even when that means we have to step out of our comfort zone as an organisation. And I hope we find ways to share what we learn with the industry so other people can benefit from the work we are doing.

All in all the Artist Development Programme is hugely inspiring. Sometimes within the arts, certain areas and aspects can seem elitist and intimidating, discouraging potential artists from ever realising their dreams and aspirations. The Lowry has become ‘the middle man’ to these artists, nurturing their ideas, feeding them with knowledge and confidence and finally giving them a gentle nudge out of the nest and into the big wide world, making their dreams a reality.

Claire and her team are always interested in hearing from new emerging artists or working together with other organisations to help support artists in their career. Any questions on the programme itself or how to become a member can be forwarded to her email claire.symonds@thelowry.com

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Q&A with Andrew Ashton, New Adventures Company Member

Q&A with Andrew Ashton, New Adventures Company Member

Sir Matthew Bourne first launched his company, New Adventures, in 2002, after many years of previous success with other works. He has won a whole host of awards and accolades, honouring his contribution to the dance and theatre world, including his knighthood in 2016.

Since 2008, New Adventures has been committed to nurturing and developing new talent, by the means of workshops and projects. Aimed at all ages, genders and abilities, these workshops are hosted to help inspire the next generation of performers and making them accessible for everyone. However, with the great success their production of Swan Lake has seen, with their all male corps de ballet of swans, they particularly help to inspire young males to follow dreams and shatter stereotypes! You can read more about the topic of encouraging boys and men in the dance world in a previous article here Let’s Hear It For The Boys!

We were lucky enough to ask one of the more recent New Adventures company members, Andrew Ashton, a few questions on the company, tour life and his background, as well as topics the production highlights.

DN. What is it like touring and being part of Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures company?

AA. I feel much more connected to the cast and crew than I have with any other show as we are with each other for so much time, at work and also living together and sharing a lot of our free time as a company whilst touring to new cities. It is, however, very much like shows I have done through my training in terms of the etiquette of the rehearsal process, classes and general running of the show, so it feels very normal.
Rehearsal, note taking and general cleaning of choreography is extremely important to New Adventures and therefore, after each class, we have notes with either Matt, Pia our Resident Director or Glenn the Rehearsal Director. Following this, we will either rehearse aspects of the show for that day where someone might be doing a new track or we will spend a few hours revisiting sections in fine detail. We always have a laugh and enjoy ourselves while at the same time remaining focussed and professional and therefore we have a really good and respectful working environment that I feel shows on stage. So on a whole it’s very much what I expected it to be.

DN. How does it feel making your professional debut in something as high profile as Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake?

AA. It’s a bit of a cliché to say that it’s a dream. However, whenever I was asked which show would be my dream job, I would always say Swan Lake. It’s not just the choreography of the show that makes it so beautiful to perform, but the camaraderie and deep connection that you feel with the fellow swans on stage. Each and every one of us gives our absolute all to every show because we just love and respect it so much. In every performance, I’m able to find something new about the show or about my movement and choreography that surprises me. So, it really is a dream to perform. I’m also very lucky in that I’ll be able to travel to countries and cities that I might have never gone to without this show. I’m always told how phenomenal the Japanese audiences are that I can’t wait!

DN. The production deals with very relevant topics such as oppression, mental health and sexual preferences, as well as creating gender fluid roles. How important do you think it is to portray these issues on stage theough dance?

AA. The stage, just like tv, radio and other art forms is a representation of our world and to me it is more than just entertainment. It’s a way in which we can communicate to huge to our audiences and by extension society about important matters that surround us outside of the theatre. I feel that this is one of the reasons why Swan Lake is so popular, because it’s main focus is the feeling of wanting to be loved and this is something each and every one of us can relate to on whatever spectrum. All these topics are things that our audiences feel and encounter on a daily basis. So, it’s therefore important to portray them and portray them in an honest and respectful way in order to convey the idea of acceptance that is crucial to the whole story line of Swan Lake.

DN. You knew from an early age you wanted to perform and be in the arts genre. Do you have any advice for young students who want to follow the same career path?

AA. My advice is always to just do the things that you love. Everybody has a different idea of what success is and if you let your idea of success be what everybody else thinks it should be then you will never be happy with your accomplishments. My other advice would be to always trust your teacher or mentor, as they may have been in exactly the same position as you and have years of experience on top of that. Eventually you will realise that what they have been telling you for years was right all along.

DN. Tell us about your background training with Laine Arts and how it prepared you.

AA. My training has meant that nothing really has daunted me or has come as a shock when coming straight into the company. I had a very varied training at Laine as we study Musical Theatre and so we’re constantly pushed and pulled between different disciplines and techniques. I feel that this has been extremely useful for Swan Lake as there are actually a lot of different styles within the show. There’s a lot of ballet technique required in Act 1, it’s quite jazz like in the Soho Bar Scene and of course the Swan Acts are very physical and contemporary. This along with my training in acting and musical theatre performance has meant that I felt very prepared to perform and most importantly tell the story through my movement.

DN. What would you say to anyone who was thinking about coming to see the show?

AA. Don’t just watch it once would be my advice! There is so much to see and because the emotion is so raw it’s different each time you watch it. We are lucky to be able to watch the show when we have a show off. I’m moved by it every time and I can’t count the number of times I’ve now seen it!

Sound advice Andrew! You can read my thoughts on the production in my previous article

New Adventures Swan Lake is currently showing at The Lowry until 1st December, with tickets still available, using this link https://thelowry.com/whats-on/matthew-bournes-swan-lake/https://thelowry.com/whats-on/matthew-bournes-swan-lake/ Further details of tour locations can be found on the website New Adventures Swan Lake

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Matthew Bourne’s New Adventure SWAN LAKE Review

Matthew Bourne’s New Adventure SWAN LAKE Review

Matthew Bourne has an incredible talent for turning an age old and traditional story, such as Swan Lake, and thrusting it beak first into the 21st century. His take on the classic tale, with his company New Adventures is far more menacing and somber than the original. Its one of inner turmoil and depravity, provocation and lust, entrapment and finally freedom.

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The show opens with the young Prince in bed, being awoken by the hum drum of palace life. The mixed corps de ballet of butlers and maids all hurry with military precision. , using angular arm and head movements, swift changes of direction and robotic stature. With it, we sense the beginning of the Prince (played by Dominic North) is unhappy with his regimented and stifling life.

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The Queen, was played by Katrina Lyndon. She bought a regal and sophisticated edge to her character. Her dancing was elegant and had wonderful poise, using her upper body well, and great strength and control with her legs, to effortlessly glide across the floor. Katrina used her facial expressions well, an eye roll here, a displeasing look there, which were discreet yet added to the story perfectly. My favourite scene of hers was at the Black Ball, held at the Palace. Everyone wearing black, yet she appears in a stunning red dress. She dances with The Stranger in a immensely provocative routine. She echoes perfectly the traditional role of the black swan, the seductive temptress, bold and confident in her approach, with burning eye contact. This is possibly why she is wearing red, as, did you know, Odile didn’t wear black until the early 1940’s, the original productions instead choosing bright and bold colours.

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Dominic North’s performance as the Prince is a harrowing one. He starts off frantic in his movements, to shoe his resentment to his life, changing to being light and free when he has the love and affection from The Swan, will well elevated and athletic allegro, finally lashing out in desperation at the end. His pas de deux with his mother is particularly upsetting. You see his need for love from his mother, begging her to hold him, literally clinging onto her. You see her rejecting him to conform to standards. As an audience member, you almost plead with her to relent and just give him a hug. Dominic’s performance is powerful and emotive.

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The girlfriend character (Carrie Willis) is a brash character adding a layer of humour to the production. Everything from her costume to her demeanour and actions provoke laughs from the audience. She perfectly captures the stereotypical air headed bimbo character and certainly puts her gazelle like legs to good use.

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The Swan and The Stranger are played by the same dancer, just as Odette and Odile are also danced by the same ballerina. Will Bozier did an incredible job of acting within his dancing, being so convincing as 2 separate characters, you’d be forgiven in thinking they were not the same people. As the swan, he is coy at first, unwilling to interact with the Prince. His movements are large and strong, imitating a real swan when it is threatened, protecting itself. Then he softens, when he and the prince dance their pas de deux, becoming the protector role, lifting the Prince, nuzzling and nurturing him. As The Stranger, not only does his appearance change, so does his dancing and with it his character. With his leather trousers, he is immediately portrayed as a bad boy role. His lusty looks and bold swagger transform him to represent power and danger. He dances with every woman in the ballroom. The dance is reminiscent of an Argentine tango, full of passion, bodies always close, legs frantically working. He ends as the swan again in the scenes. The Princes protector once again,from the other swans who have turned on them both. Will uses his body language and facial expressions so well, that even if he were not in specific costumes, you’d instantly identify the character he would be portraying.

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The final scenes are danced with an all male ensemble, the traditional corps de ballet being replaced by a male corps. Included are some sequences from the more traditional productions, including ‘entrance of the swans’ and ‘dance of the cygnets’ but of course with an altogether more robust and rugged feel, with far more jumps, syncopation and unique poses, now synomymus with his version. The swans take on the role of an angry mob. Their muscular and athletic physiques perfectly embody than of a swan, beautiful to look at yet strong and powerful, a force to be reckoned with. They act and think as ‘one’ ultimately seizing control of the situation, strength in numbers. The use of the resistance in their arms and hisses audible to the audience create an imposing and sinister feel from the very beginning.

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Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake has been performed for over 20 years now, premiering back in 1995. He uses concepts and ideas from the more traditional versions yet adds a more contemporary and modern feel, adding highlights paying homage to other great choreographers such as Bob Fosse. In 2018, the production underwent some revising to the set, lighting and choreography to keep it just as fresh as its ever been. It deals with relevant topics in todays society of sexual preferences, acceptance, temptation, and the basic human need for love. And boy did the audience love it on opening night at The Lowry Manchester, with a staggering 4 minute standing ovation. That alone is testament to the talent of the cast, and Matthew Bourne’s success in creating a production that’s become a traditional one in its own right.

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Don’t just take our word on how mind blowing it is! Read more about the production, the company members and tour life, in our interview with cast member Andrew Ashton https://danceniche.com/2018/11/29/qa-with-andrew-ashton-new-adventures-company-member/

New Adventure’s Swan Lake is currently showing at The Lowry Manchester until 1st Dec. Ticket prices start at £28.50 and can be purchased via their website here TheLowry.com Further information about the tour’s upcoming dates and locations can be found on the New Adventures website MB’S New Adventures

*Special thanks to The Lowry Manchester and photographer Johan Persson, using photographs from the production at the Royal Theatre Plymouth*

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