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North West dance news, reviews and personal views

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  • 08/01/10--01:02: 2010 - The Year in Dance
  • January - March 2010

    April - June 2010


    * Love and War - Mark Bruce Company - Royal Exchange Studio - 1 July
    (Glad I didn't have to write a proper review of this show as I'm not sure how much I actually understood of it. "Mark Bruce uses theatre-in-the-round and a soundtrack including Sparklehorse, The White Stripes, Queens of the Stone Age and György Ligeti, to plunge the imagination into a raw arena of the otherworld. Time shifts and figures from myth and ritual collide; Gods emerge amongst frenzied cheerleaders, murderous strangers, dogs of war and bedraggled homecoming queens, in a heart-searching dance work of savage beauty." Very different and varied show using classically based moves distorted into something quite different, set to a mixed bag of American alternative rock, alt-country and modern classical. Parts of this show were fantastically thrilling - notably the Nirvana-set cheerleader/dogs of war section and the spider sequence. A talented and varied cast in character made for a distinctive 70 minutes. ****
    * Meter - Ad Hoc Dance - The Lowry Studio - 12 July
    * A Celebration - Students of the Centre for Advanced Training in Dance (CAT) - The Lowry - 17 July
    * Urban Moves Festival 2010 - 23-25 July - Methods of Dance 2010 the review - Urban Moves Festival 2010 website


    * Declarations  - Phoenix Dance Company - Liverpool Playhouse - 15-16 September
    * Awakenings + Hush + RainForest - Rambert Dance Company - The Lowry - 22-24 September
    * This Is Now - New Art Club - Royal Exchange Studio - 23-25 September


    * Blaze - The Lowry - 1-2 October

    * Political Mother  - Hofesh Shechter Company - Sheffield Lyceum - 4 October
    * Romeo and Juliet - English National Ballet - Palace Theatre - 14-17 October

    * Edits - The Featherstonehaughs - greenroom - 15 October
    * Step by Step - Royal Ballet  - The Lowry - 21 October (Tickets only available by entering a ballot by 31 July. Click here for details.)
    * Pleasure's Progress - ROH2 - The Lowry - 22-23 October (N.B. This is in the Studio)
    * Invitation To The Ballet - Ninette de Valois and the Story of The Royal Ballet - The Lowry - 23 October - 6 March 2011 (Exhibition)

    * Corpo-realities - Sankalpam - greenroom - 5 November
    * Manmade - triple bill feat. Kyle Abraham, Gary Clarke & Darren Suarez - Unity Theatre, Liverpool - 11 November
    * The Factory - Earthfall - Homotopia & Unity Theatre,  Liverpool - 9-10 November

    * Love Is In The Air - Srishti - The Lowry - 14 November
    * Blood, Sweat & Tears - ballet LORENT - The Lowry - 15 November

    * inSpace - Ad Hoc Dance - The Lowry Studio - 22 November
    * The Nutcracker - Northern Ballet (Theatre) - Palace Theatre - 23-27 November 

    * A Super Modern Dance And Other Romances - Pavlos Kountouriotis - greenroom 26 November
    * Cinderella - Matthew Bourne's New Adventures - The Lowry - 23-27 November

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  • 08/05/10--02:24: Dance Leaders Wanted
  • Rosie Kay

    Dancing on the Severn Valley Railway

    Dance Leaders required

    Rosie Kay Dance Company is looking for Dance Leaders to work on an exciting new site-specific project, Dancing on the Severn Valley Railway.

    We are looking for a total of 18 Dance Leaders based in Worcestershire, Telford or Shropshire.

    Each dance leader will work with an existing or newly formed group of up to 30 young people between June and July 2011 to create an element of the site-specific performance with their group, prior to the performance on 23rd July 2011.

    In advance of the creation period, each Dance Leader will get the opportunity to take part in Choreographic training with Rosie Kay, Artistic Director of Rosie Kay Dance Company.


    • Dance training to higher education level or 3 years experience working in the community with young people aged 11 – 25.
    • Have choreographic experience (although some training will be provided)
    • Have an existing dance group of young people aged between 11 and 25 years,
    or be willing to work with a group of that age range, selected for you by the project coordinator.
    • Access to free rehearsal space within your area for dance sessions
    • Be willing to create work for outdoor spaces.

    All applicants must be interested and committed to the project and meet all the requirements needed for it to take place.

    Delivery fee: £600
    Expenses: up to £65 paid for each training day


    Training: 1 day in October half term (Birmingham)
    1 day in February half term (Birmingham)
    1 day during Easter break (Birmingham)

    Delivery: Up to 12 sessions with your group to create a 5 mins performance

    For more information: Please contact Rosie Kay on 07961 434256
    How to apply: Please send a written application detailing how you meet the requirements above, with an up-to-date CV. Please indicate whether you are willing to work with a new group or you wish to work with your own group, and give details.
    To: Rosie Kay Dance Company,
    101 Ludgate Lofts, 17 Ludgate Hill, Birmingham, B3 1DW
    Deadline: 10th September 2010

    Dancing on the Severn Valley Railway - About the event
    An incredible one-day event on the Severn Valley railway, involving a large number of participants and the company in a thrilling journey of steam adventure and romance.

    Following the line from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth, the audience will be taken to world of surreal adventure and romance in which they too must participate to solve the puzzle at the end of the journey.

    Rosie Kay Dance Company on Facebook

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  • 08/05/10--07:16: Article 0
  • Regular readers (are there even any) may be aware that American company Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet are my favourite company I've never seen.

    Here is a clip of their new work On This Planet, choreographed by their splendidly-named Artistic Director Benoit-Swan Pouffer.

    In the current climate they have probably never been less likely to visit the UK outside of London but I long to see them...

    on this planet (excerpts) from Caleb Custer on Vimeo.

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    Manchester's greenroom have annouced their new autumn season and have a a number of dance events scheduled.

    As previously announced, the flagship performance of the season will be the long-awaited return of The Featherstonehaughs, who are presenting a new work entitled Edits.  It has been 12 years since the all male company took to the stage on their own and, for Edits, Lea Anderson’s challenging, exciting and groundbreaking choreography is paired with stunning costumes by three times Oscar winner Sandy Powell and an original live score.

    One of the most important figures in British contemporary dance over the last 25 years, Anderson uses a drastic and compelling new way of creating movement material to translate the conventions of film, photography and painting into dance. Stylishly drawing on the peculiar elasticity of filmic time Edits creates a totally original live world of its own.

    The Featherstonehaughs
    15 October 2010

    Book your tickets by 6pm Monday 11 October and get your £9 tickets for £6

    Bharata Natyam is the oldest of all classical dance forms in India, known for its grace, purity and statuesque poses. At the forefront of the form in the UK, Sankalpam is working with artists from the fields of contemporary dance and theatre to push the boundaries of Bharata Natyam.

    Corpo-realities is an intimate triple bill, commissioned artists include former Southbank Centre resident choreographer, Stephanie Schober, whose precise choreography exposes the performers’ desire to communicate with the viewer and others on stage and Luca Silvestrini of Protein, who uses social commentary and humour to translate familiar life stories into surprising works of dance theatre. For the third piece, Stella Uppal Subbiah, Co-Artistic Director of Sankalpam, has collaborated with theatre director Phillip Zarrilli on an encounter with the psycho-physical process of Abhinaya (internal acting).

    5 November 2010
    Book your tickets by 6pm Monday 1 November and get your £9 tickets for £6

    A Super-Modern Dance And Other Romances - A witty take on what contemporary dance is ‘supposed to be’. ‘Super’ is not only for the supermarket, superhero, superstar, superduper but, in this engaging game of references, is also a humorous reflection on the nature of communication.

    greenroom Artist in Residence Pavlos Kountouriotis has worked with choreographers such as Trisha Brown, Marten Spangberg, Boris Charmatz, Meg Stuart, Kirsten Debrock and is an artist of the Sweet and Tender Collective.

    A Super-Modern Dance And Other Romances - Pavlos Kountouriotis
    26 November 2010
    Book your tickets by 6pm Monday 22 November and get your £9 tickets for £6

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    Two-thirds of people 'agree with arts funding change'

    Two-thirds of people agree with the government's stance on cutting arts funding and increasing reliance on private cash, a survey has suggested.

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    Manchester dance duo Company Chameleon - who have recently returned from a tour of South Africa - have announced an appearance at Contact Theatre on 5 February 2011.

    [The work is simply titled as 7, which I assume is a new piece of work - good news on two fronts: Company Chamelon are always interesting, and it's good to see some dance programming at the Contact once more.]

    Since posting this I have found an email from Chameleon which sheds more light on 7 and explains the involvement of Contact in the performance.

    7 will be an evening of performance works featuring 2 solos from Chameleon, “Second Grace” choreographed by Anthony Missen, and “Shattered” choreographed by Kevin Turner, both co-commissioned by The Contact Theatre.
    UK artists interested in developing solo works will be invited to apply for selection, presenting the seeds of their idea.  5 artists will be selected, and will work alongside the co-directors in a 2-week residency to develop and create a five minute solo.
    These will be presented alongside Second Grace and Shattered.

    Other appearances by Anthony Missen and Kevin Turner are available here.

    Company Chameleon - 7
    Contact Theatre
    5 February 2011

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    ...the summer drought is finally over. Phoenix Dance Theatre's Declarations - which looks marvellous -at the Liverpool Playhouse on Thursday.

    Can't wait. Not seen any dance since Urban Moves in July.

    And then the Rambert Dance Company's Awakenings at The Lowry the following week. And probably the New Art Club's This Is Now at the Royal Exchange Studio too.

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    A fantatic piece from the Guardian summarising the history and significance of the great Sergei Diaghilev - and one that doesn't shy away from the significance of his homosexuality either.

    Sergei Diaghilev: first lord of the dance

    Sergei Diaghilev set early 20th-century Paris ablaze with his Ballets Russes – and his impact on the world of dance can still be felt today

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    Phoenix Dance Theatre - Declarations
    Liverpool Playhouse
    16 September 2010

    I saw Phoenix Dance Theatre for the first time at the Liverpool Playhouse this evening. I was reminded in all good ways of my long-lamented New English Contemporary Dance Company. Phoenix presented a completely contemporary set of four works rooted in fantastic classical technique to a mix of classical and contemporary music - much as NECB did - and it was completely the kind of dance I love.

    Although the company is soon to celebrate 30 years they seem utterly fresh and new.

    The show opened with The Audacious One, based on Barack Obama's 'Audacity of Hope' speech and was a strong opener. Full of drama, movement and humour and set to excerpts from Mozart's Requiem, this piece set the scene for a promising evening as the dancers' talent and technique was clearly apparant from the outset. A little prop-bound and tinny sounding for my taste, but it was a good start.

    Second up was Locked in Vertical, a new work by British Sri Lankan choreographer Isira Makuloluwe, which was simply breathtaking. Powerful, very technical and full of emotive power, this piece danced by Azzurra Ardovini, Phil Sanger, Josh Wille and Chihiro Kawasaki, gave me the feeling that I was watching something very special. The modern soundtrack by composer Francois Caffenne was wonderful.

    Azzura Ardovini, Phil Sanger and Josh Wille
     After the interval the company returned with Haunted Passages, a company classic from 1989. With an actual set - a ghostly curtained window, and set to music by Benjamin Britten - this piece by Philip Taylor was danced by Ardovini, Sanger and Wille and was also wonderful. Based on the disturbing images that haunt us in the states between sleep and sleeplessness, it made me wonder what a fully-staged narrative ballet danced in contemporary style would be like, for this was extraordinarily contemporary and yet very classical in technique and its use of acting. I can see why they regularly revive this piece.

    Finally came Maybe Yes Maybe, Maybe No Maybe, which featured a streetdance-esqe soundtrack - or soundscape - by Street Furniture built up of layers created by the voices and noises made by the dancers into a live mic hanging centre stage. It was gimmicky but managed to completely transcend that with strong performances, skilful use of humour - allowing the dancers to really show some personality - strong technique and great variety of light and sound and mood. All five dancers shone, with plenty of solo work as well as some breathtaking interplay between the entire group - notably a dramatic downlit solo by Chihiro Kawasaki that turned into a duet with Josh Wille.

    All the dancers were outstanding, notably Azzurra Ardovini and Chihiro Kawasaki, although Amanda Lewis was a strong dancer with great presence. The very handsome and rather sexy Josh Wille and Phil Sanger are two of the best male contemporary dancers I have had the privilege of seeing, especially when they danced together - and I love it when the boys dance together. Both have great technique with Josh being more gymnastic and Phil more classical in style, but I could have watched them for hours - masculine and elegant.

    Phoenix aim to become the leading medium scale UK dance company - and I wouldn't argue with that. I can't wait to see them again, and hopefully they will venture to Manchester on their next outing. They received a well-earned positive reception at the Playhouse tonight but the auditorium was only about half-full. They deserve better.

    A step by step guide to Phoenix Dance Theatre - The Guardian

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    Following a summer spent creating a new work in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern, Michael Clark Company returns with the next instalment of his critically acclaimed production made primarily to the music of David Bowie.

    come, been and gone also embraces the work of his key collaborators - Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Brian Eno - and touches on some of his influences - the Velvet Underground, Kraftwerk and Nina Simone.

    Michael Clark Company will continue to tour come, been and gone in 2010/ 2011 and upcoming dates include an appearance at The Lowry on 28 January 2011.

    Michael Clark Company reveal the results of a 7-week project at Tate Modern to create a new work

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  • 09/27/10--13:18: Just a thought...
  • Here's the thing...  

    The Lowry launched their previously mentioned 'first ever' dance season at an early evening event in The Lowry's Compass Room before the World Premiere of the Rambert Dance Company's Awakenings Tour last week. I was lucky enough to be invited. I think this was because I have been involved in a creative writing workshop for the Watching Dance Project, which also involved going to see the Rambert. It may also have been because I am a dance regular at The Lowry? I certainly felt slightly out of place, because everybody else seemed to know one another - or other people, at least - and most seemed to have connections with the 'dance industry', if once can call it that, or The Lowry itself. I don't. I'm just what would once have been called a 'balletomane'.

    What we were presented with - along with some very nice sandwiches and drinks - was The Lowry's 'exciting new dance season for January - April 2011'. This season is comprised of eleven companies scheduled to appear early next year:

    Upswing, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Michael Clarke Company, Flawless, Mobius Dance Theatre, Danish Dance Theatre, Alvin Ailey 2, Company Chameleon, Phoenix Dance Theatre, Richard Alston Dance Company, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo and Midnight Tango, featuring Vincent and Flavia from Strictly.

    Now, I'm not saying this isn't exciting. It is. I'm very excited at the prospect of seeing Michael Clarke and the Danish Dance Theatre have never performed in the UK before - that's exciting. What I am saying is that I have been seeing dance long enough that I have already seen five out of the eleven companies (and very happy to see all five again). What I am saying is that Flawless are playing two dates at the Palace Theatre in November with the same show so why the hell are they even playing The Lowry again in February (and does a popular street dance spin-off from BGT appeal to a dance audience anyway)? What I am saying is that roping a Strictly spin-off show (no matter how good their tango) in seems opportunistic somehow.

    But what I'm really saying is that in 2010 in the same period (January - April) I saw eight dance companies at The Lowry - akram khan, Motionhouse, Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake, Balletboyz, Scottish Dance Theatre, Los Vivancos, Birmingham Royal Ballet and David Toole & Lucy Hind. I also missed Ballet Central and CanDoCo, according to my diary, which would not record any street dance, or Indian dance, or any other dance show I was not vaguely interested in seeing. That's a minimum of ten dance shows or companies in the same period in 2010 compared to their dance season of eleven for 2011?

    What I'm saying is, is this The Lowry's first ever dance season or just business as usual? Is this something genuine or just marketing spin?

    Whatever the answer or whatever you think, just keep booking dance at The Lowry.And keep going to see it. It's never been more important to buy those tickets.

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    * Love and War - Mark Bruce Company - Royal Exchange Studio - 1 July
    (Glad I didn't have to write a proper review of this show as I'm not sure how much I actually understood of it. "Mark Bruce uses theatre-in-the-round and a soundtrack including  Sparklehorse, The White Stripes, Queens of the Stone Age and György  Ligeti, to plunge the imagination into a raw arena of the otherworld.  Time shifts and figures from myth and ritual collide; Gods emerge  amongst frenzied cheerleaders, murderous strangers, dogs of war and  bedraggled homecoming queens, in a heart-searching dance work of savage  beauty." Very different and varied show using classically based moves distorted into something quite different, set to a mixed bag of American alternative rock, alt-country and modern classical. Parts of this show were fantastically thrilling - notably the Nirvana-set cheerleader/dogs of war section and the spider sequence. A talented and varied cast in character made for a distinctive 70 minutes. ****

    * Meter - Ad Hoc Dance - The Lowry Studio - 12 July **

    * Urban Moves Festival 2010 - 23-25 July - Methods of Dance 2010 the review - Urban Moves Festival 2010 website


    * Declarations  - Phoenix Dance Theatre  - Liverpool Playhouse - 16 September

    Read my review here *****

    * Awakenings + Hush + RainForest - Rambert Dance Company - The Lowry - 22 September

    ( Once again I was hugely disappointed by the Rambert, although it was great to see some Merce Cunningham presented with its original staging. Even Aletta Collins marvellous choreograhic skills couldn't rescue Awakenings from the Rambert 'problem' - either do narrative ballet in a contemporary style or do contemporary dance. The Rambert do neither, and it's very frustrating!) Read my review for The Public Reviews here
    * This Is Now - New Art Club - Royal Exchange Studio - 23 September

    (I'm not fan of stand-up so the prospect of comedy dance was an intriguing one. New Art Club have a good reputation and from this showing it's well deserved. Very funny and hugely likeable, this was an hour well-spent.) Read my review for The Public Reviews here

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  • 09/30/10--07:08: The Lowry's response
  • Hi Peter,

    We’re sorry that we have given you this impression. As we are still tying everything together for next year we probably weren’t clear enough with you about what will happen in 2011…

    Our season of dance will be more than just the events that will be held in the theatres. It’s the first time we will be joining up all the events with an outreach programme and a series of activities aimed to encourage new audiences (particularly young people) to discover dance in all its many forms - we cover a lot of ground at The Lowry, and acts like Flawless are a great example of where new genres of dance are emerging for a new generation of people we hope can be encouraged to become regular attendees.

    We’ve commissioned new work from our artist-in-residence, Company Chameleon, and we’re committed to promoting the season as a ‘whole’ - something we haven’t done before - to raise the profile of dance further across the region.

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    Hofesh Shechter Company
    Political Mother
    Sheffield Lyceum
    2 October 2010

    I had a powerful reminder last night why I love dance so much. In Sheffield.

    If it was a play or an opera or a musical or a film I could probably tell you what it was about. But dance is capable of so much more - so much more imagery, so much more emotion, and it fuels your imagination more brightly. When it works, dance is something you feel, experience and witness as much as watch and Hofesh Shechter's Political Mother works emphatically. From the moment the curtain went up to the moment the curtain came back down again seventy minutes later - and for some time after - this monolithic slab of grittily political dance theatre had me shaking and tearful. It was awesome.

    I have seen Hofesh Shechter's company before - Uprising / In Your Rooms  - and seen another piece choreographed by him - The Empire's Fall by Destino On the Road - and been struck by his powerful and unique choregraphic style and vision. I speculated at the time where he could go with such distinctive and characteristic movement without repeating himself or becoming stale. Political Mother is Shechter's emphatic answer to that question.

    This is some of what I saw: the Middle East, Feudal Japan, mediaeval battlefields, the Crusades, popular uprising, civil unrest, political extremism, political repression, charismatic dictators and violent demagogues, hostages, political prisoners, starvation, brutality, love, redemption, the Holocaust, Christ's struggle with the authorities, mental illness, religious fervour, religious extremism, religious oppresion, refugees, diaspora, displacement, deranged rock stars and their devoted audiences, social deprivation, political and social exclusion, military ritual, religious ritual, spiritual and demonic possession, torture, slavery ... thousands of years of history laid out and replayed in an endless loop to a pounding soundtrack so loud you could feel it, that ranged from classical to white noise to metal to distorted muezzin to easy listening.

    Political Mother is a complex work - part rock concert, mostly dance theatre - it is ambitious, wide-ranging and completely wonderful, significant and important.  Stunningly staged and cinematically lit through a constant haze of smoke and fog, it is performed by four guitarists, three drummers - who appear periodically using the magic of theatrical light and gauze and smoke - and ten dancers who are totally committed and absorbed in the choreogaphy and their characters - which is the only way this extraordinary show can be performed.

    He's taken his previous work to another level with Political Mother. I can't wait to see what Hofesh Shechter does next. And would love to see Political Mother again.

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    Hello all

    In case it's escaped your attention, tomorrow (Wednesday 20 October) is D-Day for government spending cuts. At 12:30pm, the Chancellor will begin presenting the Comprehensive Spending Review in the House of Commons, including how much will be lopped off the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) budget.

    DCMS is one of the government's smallest departments, with an annual spend of £1.9 billion - that's compared with the likes of £155 billion for welfare, £50 billion for education, £37 billion for defence, £19 billion for business, and at the lower end of the spectrum, £10 billion for the Home Office, £9 billion for justice and £6.4 billion for transport.

    Despite its relative size, DCMS is expected to be hard hit - and passing on much of its anticipated 25-30% cut to the Arts Council, which, with its £445 million per year, provides grants for 800 arts organisations, amongst them more than 200 theatre companies. We'll be reporting in News on DCMS's settlement as soon as we know it - with industry commentary - followed by the Arts Council's announcement of how their reduced funds will be divided, which is expected within the next week.

    In the meantime, please take a moment today to sign the online petition to save the arts. If the petition reaches 100,000 signatures (it's currently at just over 58,200 so get clicking!), it will trigger a debate on the matter in Parliament.

    Kind regards,
    Terri Paddock, Editorial Director

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