March 2015


Exciting, athletic and energetic, choreographer Adrienne Canterna’s take on the Romeo and Juliet story was well pitched for her enthusiastic young audience.

Shakespeare’s complex narratives are not easy to convey in dance, but there was no danger of losing the plot in this production: each character’s name was projected on the backdrop when he or she first appeared, and the programme gave a breakdown of the narrative scenes, listing them like numbers in a musical. (more…)

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Northern Ballet has a longstanding repertoire tradition of narrative ballets, often based on iconic works of literature, and David Nixon’s 2013 realisation of Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby has coincided happily with a wider audience’s hunger for the nostalgic glamour of this perennial classic generated by the film version starring Leonardo di Caprio.   This production returned this week to Sadler’s Wells following its first sell-out run and garlanded with award nominations. Having missed it the first time round I seized a last minute opportunity to catch up with this popular company’s doings. (more…)

The concentrated format of recent editions of Dancin’ Oxford has made it seem more like a festival, generating excitement through a swift succession of varied events and usually one night stands; however with that comes the difficulty of invidious choices, what to see and attend, and regrets at performances missed.  Particularly an issue for dance where much regular activity is squeezed into the evenings and weekends rather than the normal working day, and dance lovers and practitioners must therefore choose between doing and viewing.  Cheering to report that despite this a couple of shows by popular local performers managed to sell out, making me for one less guilty about not having been able to support them from the audience.  I chose to focus on the interaction of science and dance, a dominant theme of this year’s festival, with plenty of opportunities for questions and discussion. (more…)

Wayne McGregor’s Atomos asks the question, ‘What is a body?’ An atom, etymologically speaking, is something that cannot be cut and this work is concerned with identifying the irreducible elements that make up the indivisible building blocks of humanity.

It fails, but the failure is interesting. McGregor faces a similar problem to his predecessor the Roman poet Lucretius in his poem De rerum natura (‘On the nature of things’), in that the vocabulary of his chosen language (in McGregor’s case, dance) is resistant to being broken down into its smallest constituent parts and unsuited to pinning down or precisely defining ideas and concepts. (more…)

I arrived late to find myself in the middle of Selfies x4 by Marina Collard Company. On stage were 4 young female dancers Lorea Burge, Alice Labant, Mathilde Lepage Bagatta and Carolina Ravaioli – dressed in jeans and a pairing of blues and reddish tops. Sometimes they stood and gazed vacantly, other times they preened, sat, walked, jumped or danced; some lovely consecutive moves, responses, stopping and starting between the pairs. Behind them, ‘selfie shots’ – pictures of faces – built up in a mosaic of squares over the back screen and disappeared again to reappear in another configuration. The soundtrack a hubbub of background noise: talking, sometimes in English, sometimes in a foreign language, a lot of giggling and awkward noises, the clattering, clanking sounds of a canteen. The whole aptly expressing the isolating (alienating?) contentment and self absorption of selfie culture.  At the end we were treated to the two pairs becoming a four and posing for each other and us; a connection warmly appreciated by the audience. This work was a collaboration between Marina, Paul Whitty (sound/music) and Vicki Rucinska ( film/projection). (more…)

The church was silent. The rustles and settling of the audience were allowed to calm. In silence and in low light we took in the gentle movement of light white cloth softly rippling and billowing. Giving time to arrive, to notice our breathing. Eventually two figures slowly appeared bearing accordians. Breathing accordians, the opening and closing of the bellows connecting with our breathing and encouraging us to expand our breath into our lungs, my ribs opening as the concertina.  An old man balancing a beautiful long and twisted driftwood branch on his shoulder slowly and carefully entered, the light behind him casting shadows of the fragile balancing act. The stick left the man’s shoulder to find a home leaning against the strong stone pillar. (more…)

I have come alone tonight and I notice that I feel particularly at ease in my own company. I enjoy my separateness to others. As if in response to this, the effect of the performance was to make me conscious of my singularity. It allowed me to turn in on myself and to notice my embodied being: the skin I am encased in, the breath inside me. At the same time, it evoked a sense of an expansive world around us: far-away places and open space. The Pneȗma Project mimicked the act of breathing: drawing us in to ourselves and sending us out to the unknown. (more…)

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