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North West dance news, reviews and personal views

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  • 01/03/11--00:59: Gay For Today: Boris Kochno
  • Gay For Today: Boris Kochno: "Boris Kochno born 3 January 1904 (d. 1990) Boris Kochno was a Russian poet, dancer and librettist. He was a lover of Karol Szymanowski w..."

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  • 01/05/11--01:02: Gay For Today: Alvin Ailey
  • Gay For Today: Alvin Ailey: "Alvin Ailey born 5 January 1931 (d. 1989) Alvin Ailey, Jr. was an African American modern dancer and choreographer who founded the Alvin Ai..."

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  • 01/10/11--07:27: M.E.N Theatre Awards 2010
  • The nominations for the M.E.N Theatre Awards 2010 have been announced and the nominations in the dance category are as follows:

    Bahok from Akram Khan Company at The Lowry
    Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella at The Lowry
    Matthew Bourne’s Dorian Gray at The Lowry
    Romeo and Juliet from Birmingham Royal Ballet at The Lowry

    Not sure what to make of this selection. I'm not sure Matthew Bourne's Cinderella was actually better than his Swan Lake.  I would have liked to have seen a nod to Mark Bruce Company's Love and War at the Royal Exchange Studio. And although it was slightly 'mixed media' one of my favourite productions of the year was ROH2's Pleasure's Progress by Will Tuckett at the Lowry Studio. Actually the ENB's Cinderella was pretty good too.

    I'd really like to have seen nominations for Wayne McGregor | Random Dance's Entity, Hofesh Shecheter's extraordinary Political Mother - probably my standout performances of the year - and Phoenix Dance Theatre's Declarations BUT - and it's a huge BUT - I had to go to either Liverpool or Sheffield to see those shows...

    Read my Methods of Dance show-by-show review of 2010 here

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    Gay For Today: Matthew Bourne: "Matthew Bourne born 13 January 1960 Matthew Bourne OBE is a choreographer. Matthew was born in Walthamstow, London. At the age of five or ..."

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    Choreographer Tim Rushton talks to Laura Thompson about bringing his art home to Britain.

    Nice piece in the Telegraph about Danish Dance Theatre's British choreographer and Artistic Director, who is bringing the company to the UK for the first time this year. 

    Danish Dance Theatre
    The Lowry
    8-9 February 2011

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  • 01/14/11--02:56: Gay For Today: Gerald Arpino
  • Gay For Today: Gerald Arpino: "Gerald Arpino born 14 January 1923 (d. 2008) Gerald Arpino was an American dancer and choreographer. He was the artistic director and co-fo..."

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    Although they are still only halfway through their run of their splendid production of Cinderella, the programme reveals that the Birmingham Royal Ballet will be returning to The Lowry in June 2011 with their production of the sentimental comic ballet classic Coppélia.

    Birmingham Royal Ballet
    The Lowry
    8-11 June

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    This couldn't be more my cup of tea if it was an actual cup of tea made by myself using one of my own tea bags, my milk and my sweeteners in my mug and sitting on my desk. Can't wait to see this company.

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    Having had a wonderful experience with classical ballet recently - the northern ballet's The Nutcracker and the Birmingham Royal Ballet's Cinderella - I'm now hungry to see some really good large-scale contemporary dance, and I think Danish Dance Theatre is going to be it.

    So looking forward to seeing this company and the three works they are performing, Enigma, CaDance and Kridt.

    I really like Artistic Director and choreographer Tim Rushton's no-nonsense approach to what seems like extraordinarily beautifully crafted and conceived work.

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  • 01/25/11--06:01: Manchester needs Protein
  • Known for turning the everyday into witty and profound dance theatre, Luca Silvestrini's award-winning Protein return with a timely new piece of physical theatre where love, wanting and connectedness take centre stage.

    Logging on to our lives online, LOL (lots of love) delves into the world of electronic communication to uncover the evolutionary shift that social networking and the internet are having upon the way we live and love.

    With video animation by Rachel Davies, lighting by Jackie Shemesh - co-creators of Protein's Dear Body - and with original music by Andy Pink, LOL mixes social comment, provocative humour and engaging performances from six highly articulate dancers.

    You can find the tour dates and more for LOL Lots of Love here

    It's not coming to Manchester.

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  • 01/25/11--07:54: Black Swan gets 5 Oscar nods
  • 'Controversial' ballet film - or film set in the world of ballet, if you prefer - Black Swan has been nominated for 5 Oscars.

    Best Film
    Best Director - Darren Aronofsky
    Best Actress - Natalie Portman
    Best Cinematography
    Best Film Editing

    The Oscars take place on 27 February

    This is in addition (of course) to Black Swan's 12 BAFTA nominations.

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  • 01/26/11--04:42: Company Chameleon - 7
  • Company Chameleon have spent much of January 2011 in the studio rehearsing their two new solos…

    Second Grace choreographed by Anthony Missen, is communicated as a narrative, taking the experience of soldier at war to reveal a universal struggle. A study on the search for ones own truth, to not behave blindly and act in ways that are put upon us by a 'higher authority'. It is about finding the courage and strength to go against the grain, to live by ones own belief system, even if no one else around does.

    Shattered choreographed by Kevin Edward Turner. A tattooed character, both the actor and the narrator of his experience, unpicks the strands of memory and circumstance that delivered him to the place he now resides. A discourse on the conception of 'Shattered' in all its permutations.

    As well as rehearsing their own solo works, on 5 December 2010 and 5 January 2011 auditions were held at the Contact Theatre in Manchester, and from these auditions Anthony Missen and Kevin Edward Turner selected 5 emerging artists to work with over a two week choreographic residency. From Monday 24 January 2011 through to Friday 4 February 2011, Anthony and Kevin will be creating original solos with the 5 selected artists, which will be performed at the Contact Theatre alongside the world premiere of Second Grace and Shattered on Saturday 5 February 2011, to form an evening of new Dance-Theatre works called 7.

    Company Chameleon
    Contact Theatre
    5 February 2011

    Second Grace / Shattered / Search & Find
    Company Chameleon
    The Lowry
    20 March 2011

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    Manchester International Festival (MIF) are delighted to announce that the full Festival programme will be revealed on Thursday 17 March with tickets going on sale the same day.

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    I feel like I have filled a major gap in my dance experience by seeing the Michael Clark Company at last. And what a vivid and distinctive evening of dance it proved to be.

    Show opener Swamp is one the oldest pieces in Clark's catalogue but it certainly seemed as fresh as any new work being produced. It took a while to acclimatise myself to Clark's vocabulary and I found the performance initially icy for all its sculptural beauty and extreme post-modern classicism. But I soon found myself drawn in and by the end was convinced it was one of the best things I'd ever seen.

    Benjamin Warbis
    The remainder of the show was Clark's latest work come, been and gone from 2009. The first section was a rather mixed bag set to the Velvet Underground, especially after the exhilaration of Swamp. I liked the Venus In Furs section for its sexy, extravagant and perverse imagery and stunning costumes, the slow twisted elegance of the choreography perfectly matching the music. White Light/White Heat is essentially a proto-punk fast dirge and was suitably exciting. Next up was Heroin, a technically complex but rather unappealing solo. A tortured solo choreographed by a former heroin addict by a dance in syringe-studded body suit to a song called Heroin struck me as emptily shocking, over-literal and self-indulgent. Final piece, Ocean pleasantly concluded a difficult section that left me feeling a little deflated. Even Clark's trademark moves had become oddly familiar.

    After a second interval we returned for the final sections, set to music by David Bowie and Kraftwerk. Sweet Thing, Candidate, Sweet Thing (Reprise) is actually my favourite track on one of my all-time favourite albums, Diamond Dogs. Again the issue of literalness comes up. This is a song I know so well, have been listening to for more than 30 years, that it is so full of personal meaning and imagery for me that nothing Michael Clark could choreograph could ever really compete. Fortunately, Clark's dancers are so incredibly beautiful to look and to watch and the use of costume is so fascinating - although Benjamin Warbis's cutaway codpiece was overly distracting. The movement is so exquisitely distilled from classical ballet technique that despite what might soon become familiar trademark moves there are always unexpected surprises, some extraordinarily beautiful, others momentarily ugly in their twisted distortion or unexpected placement. The piece ended with the glorious Chant of the Ever-Circling Skeletal Family that provided a thrilling end.

    After a pause came Kraftwerk's Hall of Mirrors. Elegant and icily watchable, beautifully costumed but seemingly over-literal with its tale of self-obsession and reflection.  Then came Heroes. Again, a song I know extremely well. I enjoyed this although, again, some of the mimed dance actions were too literal and the projection of Bowie himself in the video for the song was distracting, although it did make it clear how his outfit had inspired the cropped leather jackets the dancers wore. Clark's use of lines and shaping is lovely and it was enjoyable if far from transcendent. After a rather throwaway 'Intermission' piece containing some entirely gratuitous nudity - basically a buttock dance by three naked dancers  - and some nice solo work by the wonderfully long and elegant Harry Alexander, we started on the home straight. Again, I had an issue with musical familiarity as Future Legend clunkily edited into a reprise of Chant... rather than the expected Diamond Dogs, but what followed more than made up for the unevenness of the previous experience.  

    Simon Williams
    Aladdin Sane was mesmerising, with a long featured solo by the beautiful Simon Williams, and finally, their Aladdin Sane shaded orange bodysuits now topped with matelot-style cropped blazers, The Jean Genie made a breathtaking and thrilling finale, music and movement in complete harmony.

    I felt like I had seen something important. The exhilaration was restored.

    I know I have seen the work of a true original.

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    Performed by Andrea Buckley, Lindsey Butcher, Annie Lok and Charlie Morrissey. Photos: Peter Jacobs.

     Photo by Pari Naderi

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    A list (by no means exhaustive) identifying those dance companies who are touring the UK in 2011 and not playing a venue in Manchester or Salford.

    Ballet Boyz (The Talent on Tour 2011)
    Henri Oguike Dance Company (Butterfly Dreaming)

    Jasmin Vardimon Company (7734)
    Northern Ballet (Cleopatra)
    Protein Dance Company (LOL Lots of Love)

    An arbitrary survey.

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  • 02/03/11--02:12: Gay For Today: Glen Tetley
  • Gay For Today: Glen Tetley: "Glen Tetley born 3 February 1926 (d. 2007) Glen Tetley was an American ballet and modern dancer as well as a choreographer who mixed ballet..."

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