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North West dance news, reviews and personal views

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    Manchester + North West Dance Survey for Methods of Dance

    Urban Moves. Photography: Peter Jacobs

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  • 05/03/16--09:27: And the Tony goes to...?
  • Very pleased to hear that Hofesh Shechter has been nominated for Best Choreography for the revival of Fiddler on the Roof at the 2016 Tony Awards.

    Who could have predicted that?

    The other wonder here is the choreography by Hofesh Shechter, an Israeli-born, UK-based dancer and choreographer making his Broadway debut. Most "Fiddler" revivals employ Jerome Robbins' Tony-winning choreography from the original 1964 production. Shechter pays heed to Robbins, but also conjures something entirely new, with the performers often leading with their elongated arms, and sweeping across the stage in syncopated formation. The effect is like a melange of Martha Graham and traditional Jewish folk dance — and in those numbers that feature the entire, 30-plus-member company, like "Tradition" and "The Wedding," it's staggeringly beautiful. 

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    I wrote the post below at the end of 2011. I thought it would be interesting to see what was on my agenda / radar then and whether my wishes came to fruition (for me, at least).

    Twenty dance-related (and other arts-based) wishes for 2011...

    1. That I see as much ballet, dance & physical theatre as I did in 2009 and '10. I have somehow managed to see roughly the same amount of dance each year, even though I have a sense that there is 'less on'. The willingness to travel to Liverpool and Huddersfield and the opening of HOME have helped with this.
    2. That no dance company goes under because of the destructive slashing of arts budgets by national or local government. The Arts Council re-funding lottery will be announced 30 March 2011. As a result companies will topple all year as their business models collapse. I think this was in response to the loss of New English Contemporary Ballet, Henri Oguike Dance Company and especially, at the time, Lea Anderson's The Cholmondleys & The Featherstonehaughs. Have there been closures since? I'm not sure there have, but I still have a real sense that life is very, very tough for small to medium touring companies and there seem to be long hiatuses between funding, and shorter, more infrequent touring. Although experience has shown that many companies of a certain size only tour the UK on a five-year cycle. 
    3. That at least one of the people I have taken to see dance goes to see some more - either with me or because they liked it enough to want to see more and have bought tickets. I am very pleased that friends I have taken to see dance have continued to see dance - without me dragging them along. I am also aware of a few of people who have been to see dance because of my promotional efforts on social media. Which is beyond gratifying.
    4. That the following companies (and many more) visit Manchester / Salford: DV8 Physical Theatre Yes, with the amazing John, Jasmin Vardimon Company Yes, Henri Oguike Dance Company lost their ACE funding and promptly folded, Rafael Bonachela Company Rafael has been Artistic Director at Sydney Dance Company for several years now so his own company appear to be in hiatus, Chunky Move (Australia) Nope, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet (US) Toured the UK but infuriatingly the schedule missed The Lowry, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet sadly closed in spring 2015. Stephen Petronio Company (US) Saw NDCWales do some of his wonderful choreography but SPC don't appear to have toured outside the US for a long time now, Toronto Dance Theatre (Canada) Nope - basically that a combination of arts cuts, financial downturn, absurd visa restrictions on artists and performers don't result in an end to national and international touring. I'm sure all the reasons cited have played their part, but in the regions, unless it is a major festival, we wouldn't get to see international touring companies outside of London at all without Dance Consortium or Dance Touring Partnership - and they have gone quiet for a year. 
    5. That Contact Theatre starts booking more dance and is less focused on its own narrow arts agenda. Contact Theatre actually seems to be widening its artistic agenda. This may be due to Barry Priest's role within the organisation...? A change of Artistic Director does seem to have widened and shifted Contact's programming. They continue to support dance, notably with Turn, but more than just that. A capital expediture-funded redevelopment of the building will see Contact closing (not sure to what extent) for a year or so. 
    6. That greenroom books more dance. greenroom lost its ACE funding in 2011 and closed for good in May 2012. 
    7. That the Royal Exchange Studio continues to book small-scale touring dance - in fact, more of it. At the moment they seem to have stopped booking any... Situation unchanged. They book the odd thing each - but not every - season. 
    8. That some fantastic redevelopment plan is announced for The Dancehouse - one that brings the theatre into more use, improves the public spaces and facilities, improves the standing of the attached dance school and Manchester City Ballet and increases the amount of dance actually programmed to appear in the theatre (i.e. some). This is pure fantasy. This does indeed seem to be pure fantasy. Yes, pure fantasy. It's still a packed programme of comedy and alt-film festivals and Manchester City Ballet endures. Still never seen them.
    9. That the BBC site on Oxford Road is earmarked for a landmark urban regeneration project and not a mixed use hotel/offices/apartments/retail units yawnfest. Work has started on Circle Square in three phases and the site is set for completion in 2023. It is a mix of hotel/office/apartments/retail/leisure/public spaces. Not a new opera house for Manchester then. There was talk at the time of a new northern second home for the ROH, involving The Lowry (Royal Ballet), the Palace (opera) and/or a new building.
    10. That the Liverpool Playhouse continues to programme really great dance and that their investment plans don't fall through. Liverpool Playhouse and sister theatre the Everyman have had their funding significantly cut by Liverpool City Council. They are optimistic this is survivable. Liverpool Everyman has reopened after a complete rebuild and appears to be a thriving regional theatre - and just announced the formation of a rep company. Liverpool Playhouse still programmes a similar amount of dance - usually Phoenix and Wayne McGregor and is unchanged. 
    11. That the Manchester International Festival thrives in 2011 and isn't scaled down by arts funding cuts. The Manchester International Festival announced a programme in March full of music and with no dance events planned whatsoever. Over-familiar, dreary even, this year's MIF should be hugely successful... MIF goes from strength to strength. A new Artistic Director for 2017 will hopefully result in a programme that more closely meets my own interests, although in 2015 MIF finally commissioned a significant piece of dance (Tree of Codes) and Akram Khan's 2016's between-festival new version of Giselle is an MIF/ENB commission.
    12. That Urban Moves returns in 2012 and is promoted more effectively - perhaps tying the free public performances in with some theatrical events...? Urban Moves did indeed return in 2012 with a decent programme locked in Castlefield rather than the city centre. Urban Moves 2014 was also pretty good and based in Cathedral Gardens. No news on 2016's event.
    13. That some theatrical use is found for the Theatre Royal (Peter Street) if it's not going to be the new home of the Library Theatre. Chronically, tragically, the Theatre Royal is to be somehow absorbed into the adjoining Radisson Blu EDwardian hotel (in the former Free Trade Hall). Although plans were announced some time ago, no work appears to have started, and the Theatre Royal still just looks like a boarded-up theatre. Tragic.
    14. That Queer Up North returns - but with a less narrow artistic agenda. Queer Up North have lost their funding from Manchester City Council and with no announcements, no pre- events and no update to the website looks to have folded? Queer Up North has indeed ceased to be. Barry Priest of Queer Up North has steadily rebuilt the festival at Contact under the Queer Contact brand.
    15. That there is some positive movement on the former Odeon on Oxford Street (although imagining that it will be restored to its former Paramount glory or returned to any kind of theatrical use is pure, pointless fantasy). Again, this was fantasy. The building is scheduled for demolition and a new 14-story office development called Landmark is to replace it. Except that was meant to be completed years ago and the Odeon is still boarded up. New developer funding was announced in 2013 but still no activity. The Paramount/Odeon is no longer salvageable, alas. 
    16. That Birmingham Royal Ballet, the English National Ballet and Northern Ballet bring some more fabulous fully-staged narrative ballet (not just Swan Lake, Cinderella, The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker and Romeo & Juliet - much as we love them). Actually, I'm about ready for another Swan Lake. Birmingham Royal Ballet are bringing Coppelia (which I've never seen). English National Ballet are bringing their Strictly Gershwin show (should be popular with the Palace's mainstream audience but leaves me cold). The Northern Ballet are bringing The Nutcracker in November (again), although they have a number of other interesting productions on the go - their new ballet Cleopatra, Beauty and the Beast, Hamlet and Giselle. It looks as if BRB may be touring less next year as they have announce their 2011-12 season and have no Lowry dates as yet... Nothing really to add here. BRB, ENB and Northern Ballet continue to visit. ENB are undergoing something of a renaissance under new AD Tamara Rojo, which is diversifying their offering.
    17. That I see some amazing contemporary company that I've never seen before who really excite me. This happens every year. For which, many thanks. Dance still has the power to amaze and delight.
    18. That I go and see something in London that I never get the chance to see in Manchester. I finally did something about this and have now been to Sadler's Wells twice with another show booked - and got tickets for The Place in June.
    19. That I will finish writing my ballet synopsis and send it to someone. Oh dear.
    20. That my reviews for The Public Reviews get better and get read. The Public Reviews was relaunched in May 2015 as The Reviews Hub. The site goes from strength to strength. I am very pleased to be one of their reviewers - specialising in dance - and sometimes write something that gets a reaction or that I'm really pleased with. 

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    Hofesh Shechter Company are  delighted to announce that Hofesh Shechter will create a new work for Hofesh Shechter Company with its world premiere at La Villette with Theatre de la Ville in Paris in June 2017.

    The new work will be a piece of total theatre, of power and surprise, of social observation and cultural reflection engaging with the contemporary world. Intricate movement and a heady, vibrant musical score will be composed by Hofesh himself based on sketches of eastern sounds and inspiration. With a full ensemble of his company dancers and a live band on stage, this new creation promises to bring the energy and impact that have become a Shechter trademark.

    Hofesh said;

    “I love having a live band on stage - the force, the excitement, the drive, the demand that live music puts on the work to be perfectly edited, perfectly measured, the way it forces the work into totality and into precision, but also into risk and danger by the ‘liveness’ of the show… anything can happen. I can’t wait to compose the music and get into the studio with the dancers and get our teeth into it.”

    World Premiere:
    14 – 24 June 2017
    Grande Halle de La Villette, Paris

    For more information visit

    2017 - 18 tour dates:
    The work will tour worldwide throughout 2017–18.
    HSC will announce the full schedule in autumn 2016.

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    New Work 2016 WORLD PREMIÈRE
    Barbican, London 6 - 15 October 2016

    Awarded an honour by the Queen for ‘services to dance’ in 2014, Michael Clark staggered somewhat bemused out of Buckingham Palace into an extended period of introspection.

    This autumn, come see the fruits of a slow rebuilding of his company, the evolution of his own dance technique, and his return to the Barbican stage for the first time since the tantalising triple bill, animal / vegetable / mineral, in 2013.

    ‘There is no dancer-choreographer alive who so naturally treads the line between the rigour of classical dance and the reckless glamour of rock and fashion’
    Independent on Sunday

    Commissioned by the Barbican

    Co-produced by the Barbican, Michael Clark Company and Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg
    Michael Clark Company is supported using public funding by Arts Council England

    ! Michael Clark Company's New Work 2016 will be showing at The Lowry 19 October 2016

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  • 05/16/16--07:32: The Casement Project
  • The Casement Project for DRAFF from José Miguel Jiménez on Vimeo.

    The Casement Project is a choreography of bodies and ideas that takes place across multiple platforms and national boundaries. It dances with the queer body of British knight, Irish rebel and international humanitarian, Roger Casement to ask: Who gets to be in the national body? How could the national body move?

    An award-winning creative team, a cast of internationally-acclaimed performers and contributors from beyond the arts, join choreographer and dance artist Fearghus ó Conchúir to create five interconnected ways for people to be involved in the project:

    •The Casement Project, a choreography for stage that will be presented in London, Dublin, Belfast and Kerry
    •Féile Fáilte, a day of dance on Banna Strand (23 July) that celebrates through curated and spontaneous dance the welcoming national body that Casement might have dreamt of when he came ashore at Banna in 1916.
    •Fáilte, a short dance-film with Emmy-award winning director, Dearbhla Walsh, for broadcast and online streaming, so that people can access the work from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.
    •Two cross-disciplinary academic symposia, one, Bodies Politic, with Maynooth University (25 February) and a second, Hospitable Bodies with the British Library and the Place (3 June), reflecting on The Casement Project and the legacy of Roger Casement.
    •A series of engagement opportunities to invite a diversity of people to be part of the creation process of The Casement Project and to explore their own creative response to the topic

    SAT 11 JUN TO SUN 12 JUN
    Fearghus Ó Conchúir
    Butterflies and Bones: The Casement Project
    The Place

    Concept and choreography Fearghus Ó Conchúir
    Designer Ciaran O’Melia
    Composer & sound design Alma Kelliher
    Performers Mikel Aristegui, Theo Clinkard, Philip Connaughton, Bernadette Iglich, Matthew Morris, Liv O’Donoghue

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  • 05/25/16--05:49: 32 RUE VANDENBRANDEN

    I'm not sure when I first became aware of the work of Peeping Tom, maybe after 32 Rue Vandenbranden won an Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production in 2015 - but maybe even before that.

    In any case, I was excited when the show appeared on the schedule at HOME. This was not only a show I wanted to see but exactly the kind of show I hoped the venue would book: the kind of innovative, ground-breaking European dance theatre that it certainly feels as if we don`t get the opportunity to see often in Manchester. I bought tickets immediately.

    On 24 May I finally got to see the show, which I had high hopes for. And it exceeded them.

    32 Rue Vandenbranden is a cinematic monolith of dance theatre - as much physical theatre as dance - that manages to be distinctive, strange, atmospheric, funny, disturbing, jaw-dropping, and thoroughly entertaining. 

    Impressively staged - a snowy mountaintop trailer park, innovatively cast, with a diverse soundtrack and sound design and some of the best special effects I have seen. This show has some of the most extreme physicality I have ever witnessed, certainly outside circus or cirque. 

    Always a sucker for theatrical magic, there are some elements of the show I cannot even account for. 

    32 Rue Vandenbranden is a surefire entry in my 2016 highlights of the year - I usually pick a top five of favourite shows from each year. But this is a show that will remain one of the highlights of my dance and theatrical life. In fact, as opportunities like this do not come along often (and I saw the excellent Correction by VerTeDance (Czech Republic) on the night of the first of three showings at HOME) I am going again to see it. It has to be done.

    And can Peeping Tom please visit again with one of their other shows...

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    English National Ballet
    Choreographed by Akram Khan
    World premiere

    In a very special addition to the biennial Festival programme, the world premiere of Akram Khan’sGiselle will take place in Manchester in 2016. A co-production between English National Ballet, Sadler’s Wells Theatre and MIF, this landmark new version of the greatest of all romantic ballets will receive its world premiere at the Palace Theatre in September 2016.
    Akram Khan is one of the UK’s most renowned and sought-after choreographers. His beautiful and innovative works include Gnosis, the Olivier Award-winning DESH and a section of Danny Boyle’s London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. An Associate Artist of Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Khan previously collaborated with English National Ballet in 2014 on the hugely acclaimed Dust, part of the Lest We Forgetprogramme commemorating World War I.
    For his new interpretation of this timeless, iconic tale of love, heartbreak and redemption, Khan will be joined by an all-star team of collaborators. Academy Award-winning designer Tim Yip, most famous for his work on the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, will create the set and costumes, while composer Ben Frost will be adapting Adolphe Adam’s original music into a new score for English National Ballet Philharmonic. Renowned dramaturg Ruth Little and Olivier Award-winning lighting designer Mark Henderson are also part of the key creative team.
    Giselle will receive its world premiere at the Palace Theatre in Manchester from 27 September to 1 October 2016. The production will then travel to theBristol Hippodrome (18-22 October 2016), theMayflower Theatre in Southampton (26-29 October 2016) and Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London (15-19 November 2016).

    Direction and Choreography Akram Khan
    Dramaturgy Ruth Little
    Music Adolphe Adam
    Score adaptation and original music Ben Frost
    Visual design and costumes 
    Tim Yip
    Lighting Design 
    Mark Henderson
    Assistant Choreographer 
    Andrej Petrovic
    Rehearsal Director 
    Mavin Khoo

    English National Ballet / Akram Khan’s GiselleCo-produced by Manchester International Festival and Sadler’s Wells, London

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  • 06/12/16--01:00: Robin Howard CBE 1924-1989
  • Robin Howard CBE

    Robin Howard CBE
    “Don’t stop now” was Marie Rambert’s plea to Robin Howard after he had financed the visit of Martha Graham Company to the Edinburgh Festival in 1963.
    It was advice that he took to heart. For the rest of his life he devoted his time, energies and personal fortune to the promotion of contemporary dance and the creation of The Place. Even more than the philanthropy which continues to support our work, it was Robin Howard’s extraordinary vision which shaped The Place.
    Robin Howard was the grandson of Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin and the eldest child of Sir Arthur Howard and Lady Lorna Howard. He studied at Eton College and served in World War II as a lieutenant in the Scots Guards (1942–45), until he sustained injuries that resulted in the loss of both his legs. In 1945 he resumed his education at Trinity College, Cambridge, and passed the bar examination to become a lawyer, but he never practiced; instead he entered the hotel and restaurant business. In 1956 he formed the Hungarian Department of the United Nations Association in England to assist refugees, and he served as its director of international service (1956–63).
    It was in 1954 that Robin Howard first saw Martha Graham Company performing in London. He immediately fell in love with the work, and became convinced that it was something missing from the British arts scene. After financing the company’s return to the UK, he persuaded Lord Harewood, Sir John Gielgud, Henry Moore, Ninette de Valois, Marie Rambert and Martha Graham to become the inaugural patrons of “Contemporary Ballet Trust Ltd”, which would be The Place’s parent company.
    His offer to Graham Company dancer Bob Cohan to join The Place as its first Artistic Director invited him to “form a dance company based on love”. He drew up a list of objectives for The Place, including “to use the universal language of dance to break down social, political, linguistic and other barriers”  and that “its standards should never, for any reason, be allowed to decline.”
    In 1976, after over a decade at the service of The Place, Robin declared that he no longer wished to be seen as a “rich man who pottered with the arts and gave of his surplus.” Resolving “really to do something” he sold his land, his book collection and his shares to raise the funds for The Place to purchase the freehold of its buildings, the single act of generosity that has done the most to guarantee the organisation’s future. For the rest of his life he continued to work for The Place, sticking steadfastly to his principles.
    “We have, in a sense, already attained the status of an establishment organisation, but we exist to bridge a gap between the establishment and a public which does not fit into that category. We are risk-takers. If we play safe we are untrue to ourselves. We now do not have sufficient funds to venture into the unknown, which is what we should do and have done so well in the past. A short-term solution to our problem is to play safe. If we do so, we shall die. And deserve to die, because people will eventually become bored.”  Robin Howard, letter to the Financial Times, 1985
    Since his death in 1989, dance and dancers in this country have continued to be encouraged to take risks through the charity of the Robin Howard Foundation. Over 20 years, the Foundation invested £400,000 supporting the work of young dance artists, and the work of The Place. Following the Foundation's contribution to The Place's redevelopment in 2001, The Place's theatre was re-named the Robin Howard Dance Theatre in honour of our founder, dedicated in perpetuity as a home for new contemporary dance artists.
    Scores of choreographers have benefited from gifts from the Robin Howard Foundation, among them Jeremy James, Henri Oguike, Darshan Singh Bhuller, Charles Linehan, Fin Walker, Hofesh Shechter, Freddie Opoku-Addaie and Aletta Collins. The Foundation closed in 2011 with a final gift enabling Richard Alston Dance Company to work with Robin's colleague and The Place's founding Artistic Director, Robert Cohan, reviving his 1989 work for London Contemporary Dance Theatre, appropriately entitled In Memory.
    Those who knew Robin Howard still speak of the awe and affection he inspired, and everyone who comes to work here still shares in his vision.  His legacy is both the magnificent buildings of The Place, and the passion for dance, the arts and our shared humanity that continues to spread beyond its walls and into our culture.
    "It is impossible to overestimate the significance of Robin Howard's work in securing and fostering the growth and development of contemporary dance in Britain ... Robin Howard was single-minded in his dedication, and he worked without sparing himself. His simplicity and generosity of manner, his idealism and enthusiasm, touched everyone who knew or worked with him. His best memorial is surely the grand flowering of dance in this country that he inspired and guided."  Clement Crisp, Financial Times
    Robin Howard CBE
    Founder of The Place
    17 May 1924 - 12 June 1989

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  • 06/23/16--06:02: Manchester? No, sorry....
  • I sometimes feel like a bit of a lone voice on this theme but I am still willing to agitate on the subject of Manchester's perceived (in)significance as a player on the national dance landscape.

    Clearly some companies have long-standing arrangements that sees them return to the city again and again - Birmingham Royal Ballet, Northern Ballet, English National Ballet, Rambert, Matthew Bourne's New Adventures, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, Hofesh Shechter Company.

    This creates the impression for many that the city is a rich with dance and a key player of national significance.

    But I would argue that too many companies either don't see Manchester as a priority or - and this may be the really significant issue - venues in Manchester don't see dance as a priority or aren't prepared to make bold or not so bold programming decisions if they can't guarantee ticket sales in the way that they can for [gulp] musical theatre. (I think this is bleeding through into a growing presence for 'family-friendly' cirque or new circus.) Pure dance is perceived as 'difficult'. Audiences are arguably lazy and reluctant to try anything 'different' unless told it is 'must-see'.

    This is the real issue in Manchester (and for Manchester also read Salford): unless it is a major and familiar company (i.e. the ones listed above) dance does not sell in Manchester. And that needs challenging and addressing.

    There are other exceptions that apparently contradict this long-growing  impression - the success of Wayne McGregor's Tree of Codes at MIF15, for example. But I would point out that pretty much everything at MIF sells strongly and this was the first significant dance commission in the festival's history: hopefully not the last.

    I believe there is a multi-pronged attack on Manchester as a dance city. (Attack may be a strong word. Weakness may be a better one.)

    • Manchester lacks a local dance advocacy organisation with a focus on promoting touring theatre-based dance, let alone a dedicated dance venue to put it in. 
    • Manchester is rich with independent dance artists but lacks any significant companies with the probable exception of Company Chameleon; with few significant companies, no dance centre, no dedicated dance theatre and no dance organisation with the resources or focus or bolshiness to advocate for real change, the wealth of grassroots dance activity remains mostly invisible to audiences.
    • The Lowry has clearly experienced a noticeable shift in programming focus from creativity to commerciality in recent years. I believe this is due to the changed post-Tory arts economy and significant changes in personnel within the organisation.
    • The Palace Theatre and the Opera House are not producing or artistically-directed theatres, simply vessels for the ATG touring machine (with the exception of major MIF theatre-based shows).
    • The Royal Exchange Studio does (very occasionally) programme dance but has no pro-dance programming agenda.
    • Contact and Z-Arts both programme dance but both venues have a specific focus - youth, community etc. Both are great venues but neither are truly mainstream and both are effectively off the radar for 'lazy' audiences who might need to walk 20-30 minutes or catch a bus. Often, interesting dance programming doesn't translate to people sitting in the theatre to watch it. 
    • In a world where touring is expensive and companies are expected to self-subsidise their activities and split ticket revenues with venues etc., companies are happy to skip Manchester because it doesn't have a sufficiently robust and developed dance audience and there is no venue booker encouraging (or able to encourage for reasons of cost) confidence. 
    • There is also an issue with zoning. Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Huddersfield etc. are sufficiently geographically clustered that if tours visit one city they skip the others. Even the major companies will alternate Manchester and Liverpool for different blocks of touring. Companies such as Phoenix Dance Theatre and National Dance Company Wales appear to have 'good relationships' with non-Manchester venues (or poor/non-relationships with Manchester venues) so they rarely visit or have stopped visiting. 

    A word about HOME. HOME has always expressed an intention to programme dance and has made some efforts to fulfil that promise. They have established a good co-production relationship with Hofesh Shechter Company already and programmed one or two other dance / physical theatre events. It is early days for the venue - still less than a year old, still establishing itself (especially the theatres). Watch this space.

    Companies touring in 2016 but not playing Manchester [this list will be updated regularly]

    • Aracaladanza Spanish dance company touring the UK in May-June. Visiting Birmingham, Bracknell, Ipswich, Edinburgh, Corby, Nottingham, Peterborough and Sadler's Wells. Not Manchester. 
    • Balletboyz (Balletboyz also completely missed Manchester in 2015. This is unusual. Is it significant?) Playing The Atkinson in Southport in Spring 2016. Are they diversifying their touring and giving different regional audiences the opportunity to see them or have they broken from The Lowry? Autumn dates now announced. Still missing/avoiding Manchester/Salford. BalletBoyz return to The Lowry in March 2017. 
    • Ballet Central. This postgraduate touring company are not visiting The Lowry in 2016. 
    • Best of BE Festival 
    • Gary Clarke Company. I have never been lucky enough to see any of Gary Clarke's work (that I'm aware of). His current work COAL is a major new work touring the UK to critical acclaim. Autumn tour dates will be announced soon. Will Manchester/Salford be on the schedule? Although Gary is a proud Yorkshireman, the Manchester area has a now-lost coal mining heritage. Doesn't the city deserve to see this important work? And Autumn dates have now been announced and it's a double winner that smashes some of my programming theories - which is great. COAL will be appearing at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield in October and Contact in December.
    • Jasmin Vardimon Company new production Pinocchio touring the UK in 2016, but not Manchester. Maybe next wave in 2017?
    • Mark Bruce Company (first wave of touring for new show The Odyssey announced. May announce Manchester in subsequent touring. Their previous (award-winning) show Dracula appeared at Contact)
    • National Dance Company Wales (not seen in Manchester since 2011)
    • Phoenix Dance Theatre. Celebrating their 35th anniversary with a tour that doesn't visit Manchester. Or Liverpool. 
    • Richard Alston Dance Company (usually play The Lowry; will be announcing autumn dates soon, so wait and see). Are also playing The Atkinson in Southport [see Balletboyz above]. RADC's Autumn 2016 tour dates have now been announced and do not include Manchester/Salford. RADC return to The Lowry in February 2017
    • 2Faced Dance Company - toured Dreaming In Code in 2015. Not visiting Manchester in 2016 Spring Tour. 2Faced are toruing a new triple bill in autumn 2016 Run. Not currently scheduled to visit 
    • Transitions Dance Company (Trinity Laban touring company)
    Image: Good Image Gallery

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    Rosemary Butcher was an icon of New British Dance: a movement of dancers and new choreographers inspired by new dance emerging in the United States who broke away from the existing classical dance establishment to create a new kind of dance unfettered by classical restrictions and structures from the grass roots up.

    In nearly four decades Rosemary Butcher made over 50 works, toured internationally and was regarded as one of Europe’s most consistently radical and innovative choreographers.

    Rosemary Butcher never stopped creating, teaching and inspiring and sadly passed away on Thursday, 14 July 2016 at the age of 69 from cancer.

    Rosemary Butcher

    Obituary - The Guardian

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    Soul's Paths - Fri 28 Oct - 7PM
    October 1, 2016
    As a result of a collaboration between Matrafisc Dance Company and Vonnegut Collective we present Soul's Paths, a site specific performance, grown around the idea of an inner journey that gradually goes deeper while experiencing the key themes of friendship, love, fraternal bond and sexuality. The journey itself starts the exact moment you step in.

    Born from a deep interest in life stories and what makes us humans, Soul’s Paths is a metaphor of our society. Sometimes we are just too busy to enjoy the little experiences of the life... With this performance they reflect on life’s complexity.

    Follow Pied Piper (the violinist), thorugh the building, from room to room, from scene to scene and explore in depth the challenges we all share...

    Performance times: 7pm & 9pm

    Limited to 30 tickets per performance
    £8 TICKETS

    Matrafisc Dance Company
    Choreography: Ina Colizza and Antonello Apicella
    Dancers: Antonello Apicella, Ina Colizza, Paula de la Puente, Giorgio De Carolis, Emma Lansley, Mariateresa Molino
    Vonnegut Collective
    Violin: Gemma South
    Trumpet: Gary Farr
    Electronic music: Norman Skip
    Drum: Harry Percy

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    Matrafisc Dance Company is a new presence in Manchester, created by Ina Colizza and Antonello Apicella. With the addition of four other dancers, this unexpectedly makes the company one of - if not the - largest in the city: a city which is rich in grass routes dance and independent dance artists but short on companies of stature.

    Soul's Paths takes the form of both an inner journey exploring themes of friendship, love, fraternity and sexuality and a physical journey around The Wonder Inn, the venue for this site specific but not site-limited work.

    The Wonder Inn is a dark and atmospheric listed building in Shudehill, still evolving from disuse into a 'creative wellness centre'. Shabby chic and heady with incense and the smell of coffee, the bar area is buzzy and relaxed-funky, and it is at the end of the bar that Soul's Paths starts, with loose and groovy jazz trumpet played by Gary Farr of Manchester's Vonnegut Collective, the musical partners for the show. A playful, flirty duet is performed behind, on and around the bar before the trumpet falls away to be replaced by a violinist Gemma Bass - the Pied Piper - who will lead the audience around the building for further encounters.

    Next, in a ground-floor space lit with ropes of lights, a more questioning exploratory duet by two further dancers, the trumpet more mournfully classical. Given more space, full use is made of it with soaring lifts and expansive expressive movement. As this section moves from discord to reconciliation and intimacy the violin leads us up the stairs to another room where Ina Colizza and Antonello Apicella await. This duet demonstrates yet more physicality; playful and passionate and yet riven with seeming conflicts. Apicella and Colizza are performers of considerable talent and solid rapport: both immensely watchable and unfussy, never wasting a gesture, clean and communicative.  Explosions of energy are driven by percussion and the pair eventually depart separately; Colizza leaving a photograph of happier times to mark the space where two souls followed different paths.

    We are lead to a wide corridor where Apicella awaits before a grand mirror. He performs a lyrical solo with classical references which seems to explore and question his identity and sense of self. Creation, destruction and rebirth.

    Finally we are lead to a large, windowed room where all the dancers and musicians - with the new addition of another operating an atmospheric electronic soundtrack  - meet for the final section. When all six dancers move as one, break and shift into different patterns - their former relationships echoed and revisited, two things are striking. Firstly, just how dynamic and distinctive Apicella and Colizza's choreography is, while still respecting the individuality of the other performers and, secondly, that this first showing by this new company instantly makes them about the largest dance company in the city. The scale and ambition of this work and this assembly of dance and live music is notable and rich with promise.

    Soul's Paths starts with two people moving in a crowded bar, but ambitiously arcs through the building, accumulating new moods and experiences before making a real statement of ambitious intent. Manchester is not short of dancers and dance artists - they mostly emerge annually at Contact for the Turn festival before disappearing again into the gloom of a city that appears chronically under-resourced and energised as a dance community. This was a bold explosion of glorious colour in that darkness.

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    10000 Gestures

    Boris Charmatz

    One of Europe’s most daring and exciting choreographers, Boris Charmatz will be opening his newest work at MIF17. For this highly ambitious piece, staged in an atmospheric space in central Manchester, a 25-strong ensemble of dancers will perform, in succession, 10000 Gestures – none repeated, every one unique. At once joyous and melancholy, ephemeral and unforgettable, 10000 Gestures rethinks and reinvents the language of dance in thrilling fashion.
    Boris Charmatz is widely celebrated for his experimental approach to contemporary dance. Since 2009, Charmatz has been the director of the Rennes & Brittany National Choreographic Centre, transforming it into the cutting-edge Museum of Dance (Musée de la danse). He has recently presented work to great acclaim at Sadler’s Wells, Tate Modern and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. This pre-premiere of 10000 Gestures marks the first ever staging of his work in Manchester.
    Boris Charmatz

    Salka Ardal Rosengren, Or Avishay, Matthieu Barbin, Nadia Beugré, Alina Bilokon, Nuno Bizarro, Dimitri Chamblas, Julie Cunningham, Olga Dukhovnaya, Bryana Fritz, Kerem Gelebek, Samuel Lefeuvre, Maud Le Pladec, Ligia Manuela Lewis, Mani Mungai, Marlène Saldana, Julian Weber & more to be announced

    Yves Godin

    Lighting Designer
    Jean-Paul Lespagnard

    Costume Designer
    Fabrice Le Fur

    General Stage Manager
    Marion Régnier

    Magali Caillet-Gajan

    Rehearsal Coach, Touring
    Sandra Neuveut, Martina Hochmuth, Amélie-Anne Chapelain

    Production Direction

    Curated for MIF by Matthias von Hartz

    Produced by Musée de la danse in coproduction with Volksbühne Berlin, Manchester International Festival, Festival d’Automne à Paris and more to be announced.

    13-15 July 2017

    A city centre space to be announced

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  • 11/30/16--04:08: 2016 - The Year in Dance
  • January


    • Macbeth - HOME - 2-6 February ****
    Read my review for The Reviews Hubhere
    • Echoes and I Imagine - Aakash Odedra - The Lowry [Quays Theatre] - 16 February ***
    Read my review for The Reviews Hubhere
    • SALIGIA - LIPA, Liverpool - 25-27 February ****
    Unexpectedly good. Eirik Dreyer Sellevoll is a dancer to watch out for in future. Read my review for The Reviews Hubhere


    • Romeo and Juliet - Birmingham Royal Ballet - The Lowry [Lyric Theatre] - 2-5 March ***
    Read my review for The Reviews Hubhere
    • Spring Tour 2016 - Folk - National Dance Company Wales - Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield - 10 March 2016 ****
    Fantastic programme, staging and performances from NDCWales in Huddersfield. Looking very good under new Artistic Director Caroline Finn.
    • Verve - Z-Arts - 11 March 2016 **
    A mixed programme in every sense of the word. Read my review for The Reviews Hubhere


    • NDT2 (Nederland Dans Theater) - The Lowry [Lyric Theatre] - 19-20 April ****
    Read my review for The Reviews Hubhere
    • Turn 2016 - Contact - 22-23 April
    Read my reviews for The Reviews Hub here - Night 1 (Friday) - Night 2 (Saturday) 
    • An Anatomie in Four Quarters - Clod Ensemble - The Lowry - 28-30 April *****
    I don't give a lot of 5* reviews but this show was something else. Read my review for The Reviews Hubhere


    • Give Me A Reason To Live - Claire Cunningham Projects - The Lowry [Studio] - 10 May ****
    Read my review for The Reviews Hubhere
    • My Father Was A Terrorist - Igor Vrebac - Contact - 12 May [part of: Flying Solo 2016][Physical Theatre] ****
    Not to everyone's taste - you should see the other reviews - but very much my kind of show from a charismatic performer. Read my review for The Reviews Hubhere
    • A Classical Farewell - Carlos Acosta - The Lowry [Lyric Theatre] - 13-15 May ***
    Read my review for The Reviews Hubhere. Acosta has unusual star power with audiences. Generally we are more used to star choreographers than dancers (which is a much more balanced affair). I have never seen Acosta perform in a full-length ballet or at the height of his career, but this is the second time I have seen him and I have to say, I find it hard to establish what the fuss is about. The audience response and standing ovation he received on Friday (and I hear, Sunday, so presumably Saturday) seems entirely driven by who he is rather than what he does. 
    • Physicalfest 2016 - Unity Theatre, Liverpool - 20-28 May [Physical Theatre festival. Click on link for full programme]
    • Correction - VerTeDance - The Lowry [Quays Theatre] - 23 May ****
    Read my review for The Reviews Hubhere
    • 32 Rue Vandenbranden - Peeping Tom - HOME - 23-25 May *****
    I have been aware of this show for a few years and finally got the opportunity to see it last night at HOME. And it is a remarkable piece of dance theatre. Wonderfully staged, dark, funny, shocking - with some of the most extreme physicality I have been privileged to witness. Quite extraordinary. 


    • Swan Lake - Scottish Ballet - Liverpool Empire - 1-4 June
    Finally got to see Scottish Ballet and a brand new version of Swan Lake by David Dawson. And it was good. Read my review for The Reviews Hubhere
    • EDge (London Contemporary Dance School) - Z-Arts - 7 June ****
    A decent and varied programme featuring new work from Joseph Toonga, Phillippe Blanchard, Alexander Whitley and Tom Roden. Worryingly small audience (I counted 39) - much the same as for Verve in March, which casts doubts on Z-Arts ability to continue to programme dance, as well as making you feel bad for these postgraduate companies performing to such small audiences in such a large space.
    • Butterflies and Bones: The Casement Project- Fearghus Ó Conchúir - The Place, London - 11 June ***
    I mainly booked to see this out of an interest in Roger Casement and a desire to see two of the perfomers on stage - Theo Clinkard and Matthew Morris. Ultimately, although I felt privileged to see a show that will only be performed in the UK twice - there will be further shows in Ireland - I found much of the content baffling and prop-bound, and the show rather short of dancing. Theo Clinkard was great though. 
    • A Triple Bill - Ballet Black - The Lowry [Quays Theatre] - 19 June ****
    I didn't love the first two pieces but Christopher Hampson's Storyville was tremendous. Read my review for The Reviews Hubhere
    • A Room For All Our Tomorrows - Igor and Moreno - The Lowry [Studio] - 29 June [!] Igor and Moreno's Idiot-Syncrasy was a highlight of last year for Methods of Dance.
    Read my review for The Reviews Hub here


    • Paradise Lost (lies unopened beside me) - Lost Dog - The Lowry [Quays Theatre] - 14 July ****
    Read my review for The Reviews Hub here


    • Alla Prima - Tiago Cadete - HOME - 20 August [Physical Theatre] ****


    • Shakespeare Triple Bill - Birmingham Royal Ballet - The Lowry [Lyric Theatre] - 14-17 September ****
    Read my review for The Reviews Hubhere
    • Akram Khan's Giselle - English National Ballet - Palace Theatre - 27 September - 1 October *****
    I absolutely loved this re-imagining of Giselle. Choreography, staging, music, performances, lighting, everything was on point. Both Guardian reviewers had issues with the narrative but I had no problem following it and thought Khan's tweaks actually made it more powerful, if less Romantic. I'm sure this kind of work is seen often in London, but, for Manchester, this felt like a game changer, a real event. Read my review for The Reviews Hubhere


    • to a simple rock'n'roll... song - Michael Clark Company - The Lowry [Lyric Theatre] - 19 October ****
    • Institute - Gecko - HOME - 19-22 October [Physical Theatre] *****
    Read my review for The Reviews Hubhere
    • Soul's Paths - Matrafisc Dance Company/Vonnegut Collective - The Wonder Inn - 28 October ****
    • Disappearing Acts - Flexer & Sandiland - The Lowry [Studio] - 31 October ****
    Read my review for The Reviews Hubhere


    • Because of Gravity - Bridget Fiske and Co - The Lowry [Galleries] - 5 November *****
    • YAMA - Scottish Dance Theatre - The Lowry [Quays Theatre] - 15 November
    Read my review for The Reviews Hub here. Hint: I loved this distinctive and different show.
    • Double Bill [incl. Set and Reset/Reset- Candoco Dance Company - Contact -16-17 November ****/**
    I really enjoyed seeing Trisha Brown's Set and Reset/Reset. The second piece by Hetain Patel (Let's Talk About Dis)was way too talky and not enough dance for my taste, although enjoyable enough in it's way. 
    • The Peony Pavilion - National Ballet of China - The Lowry [Lyric Theatre] - 22-26 November *****
    Read my review for The Reviews Hubhere
    • Happy Hour - Tmesis Theatre - The Lowry [Studio] - 24-25 November [Physical Theatre] *****
    Read my review for The Reviews Hub here
    • Witness - Company Chameleon - The Lowry [Quays Theatre] - 29-30 November ***
    Read my review for The Reviews Hub here
    • The Red Shoes - Matthew Bourne's New Adventures - The Lowry [Lyric Theatre] - 29 November-3 December *****
    I found Cinderella not Cinderella enough. I found Sleeping Beauty: A Gothic Romance incomprehensible and annoying. I didn't fancy The Lord of the Flies. But for me, The Red Shoes marks a triumphant return to form.
    • Nutcracker - English National Ballet - Liverpool Empire - 29 November-3 December 


    • COAL - Gary Clarke Dance - Contact - 7-8 December

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  • 12/05/16--08:53: SICK! Festival
  • SICK! Festival

    SICK! Festival heads to HOME, Contact and The Lowry as part of a city-wide programme.

    SICK! Festival confronts the physical, mental and social challenges that we face in our individual and collective lives. In 2017, the festival has a special focus on questions of identity and belonging. Presenting an outstanding international programme of theatre, dance, film, public installations and discussions, SICK! Festival weaves together perspectives from lived experience, clinical practice, charities, community groups and academic research.

    The full festival programme will be announced soon.

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  • 12/05/16--08:58: FLARE17
  • FLARE17

    The Flare International Festival of New Theatre sets out to find some of the most exciting new makers of experimental theatre working internationally, and brings them together to perform in Manchester. Scheduled alongside Manchester International Festival, FLARE17 once again sets its sights on the theatre of the future, and on those most likely to take us there.

    With the full programme set to be announced in May 2017, watch out for early announcements and all details at

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  • 12/08/16--10:32: 2016 Review of the Year
  • In my 2015 Review of the Year I wrote the following:

    The inevitability of the major companies that tour annually endures. Graduate touring companies appear to have fallen away this year in favour of smaller-scale, often obscure, studio and installation-based work. The audience-pleasing reassurance of circus and cirque still seems to give programmers - or the financial controllers behind (or in the way of) programmers - comfort and safety from programming scary new work by new or less well-known companies. The middle tier of dance seems to be increasingly the invisible one.
    I'm not sure I have anything useful to add to that. Graduate touring seems to be in major trouble. Cirque is still popular. The only companies that seem to be doing well are the well-funded, well-established ones. Ballet seems to the current home of innovation and I still believe that the middle tier of companies are struggling, with fewer dancers and smaller tours. How this equates to the seeming lack of creativity in this sector - money is short so development  is short and risk - which venues have progressively pushed onto companies - is high? it is hard to say. But this year it is starting to look as if the only people really safe are the major players with potentially broad-appeal; people working very much from the grass-roots and outside of traditional venues; and anyone that can get work programmed into festivals - where dance appears to be supported in a way that it barely is on its own. 

    Looking at what I have seen and reviewed this year it feels as if 2016 has not been strong as 2015 or 2014 'as a whole', but there have been some memorable and significant pieces of work shown - notably the first two in my personal Best of 2016. 

    Best of 2016:
    COAL - Gary Clarke Company

     COAL - Gary Clarke Company at Contact

    Gary Clarke's COAL manages to be deeply personal but also highly effective as a piece of never-more-relevant social history. Combining exciting physicality with earthy humour and genuine warmth - much aided by locally-recruited women community cast members and local brass bands, in addition to a remarkable professional dance cast - COAL is complex, intelligent, emotional and packs a punch that seems to appeal to dance audiences, theatre audiences and the communities affected by those momentous events. COAL is dance theatre in every sense. 

    English National Ballet - Giselle

    Akram Khan's Giselle - English National Ballet at the Palace Theatre

    Akram Khan's reworking of Giselle is a good example of the innovation in dance currently taking place in ballet. This was a stunning production with wonderful choreography. The updating of the story gave it a modern resonance and yet remained true to the essential story. Vincenzo Lamagna's new score using elements of the Adolphe Adam original was outstanding and the overall effect was an experience of watching ballet that seemed significantly more modern and overwhelming than the much-loved but familiar fare usually trotted out to the regions. Elements of Khan's choreography was reminiscent of Pina Bausch and Hofesh Shechter, but I don't intend that as a criticism. I was blown away and saw the show twice. I think this is a production that will endure for years to come and I felt privileged to be present at the world première. A real step-change for Akram Khan as a choreographer and contemporary ballet, as seen in the regions.


    Clod Ensemble - An Anatomie in Four Quarters

    An Anatomie in Four Quarters - Clod Ensemble at The Lowry [Lyric Theatre]

    This production was part of a new Lowry festival called Week 53, which appeared to be a conscious effort to remember the creativity of the venue's early years under the artistic directorship of Robert Robson. The times have moved the venue in a necessarily more commercial direction in many ways so this was a welcome injection of exciting new and different work. This show allowed a small audience - just 300 in the 1730 capacity theatre - to experience the Lyric Theatre in a new way: the audience started in the upper circle, moved to the circle, then the stalls and end the show on the stage watching the dancers from behind performing to an empty theatre - which felt like a privilege. 


    Peeping Tom - 32 Rue Vandenbranden

    32 Rue Vandenbranden - Peeping Tom at HOME

    I had been aware of Belgian-company Peeping Tom and their show 32 Rue Vandenbranden for a while so was delighted when it appeared on the schedule at HOME. This show was insane and surreal with some remarkable physical performances on display in a decidedly-odd snowy mountain trailer park setting. Fantastically strange and different.

    Gecko - Institute

    Institute - Gecko at HOME

    Already a fan of Gecko's work having seen two previous shows, Institute did not disappoint. Incredible performances, complex ideas, innovative staging and emotionally connective. Gecko deliver physical theatre like no one else. 


    The Red Shoes - Matthew Bourne's New Adventures at The Lowry [Lyric Theatre]

    Matthew Bourne's Cinderella was a great show that failed to deliver Cinderella; his Sleeping Beauty was an incomprehensible mess that demonstrated the dangers of updating stories for the sake of it - although hugely popular with audiences. I had rather fallen out of love with Matthew Bourne. But The Red Shoes has rekindled that love. Cleverly staged, The Red Shoes is narratively clean and pleasingly faithful to the 1948 film, with just the right amount of camp and mocking of 1940s ballet to resonate with modern audiences. Bourne's choreography is some of the best he's ever done and the company deliver impressive narrative and character clarity with tremendous wit and energy. The Red Shoes deserves to be a winner more than some of his string of winners.
    Michael Clarke Company - to a simple rock'n'roll... song

    to a simple rock'n'roll... song - Michael Clark Company at The Lowry [Lyric Theatre]

    The first part of Michael Clark's new trilogy is almost painfully austere and repetitive, as is the Satie score it is set to. But the middle section set to Patti Smith's 'Land' is glorious and the final section set to David Bowie - including a gorgeous setting for 'Blackstar' - was movingly poignant and seemingly-important in this year of Bowie's much-lamented death.

    YAMA - Scottish Dance Theatre

    YAMA - Scottish Dance Theatre at The Lowry [Quays Theatre]

    Scottish Dance Theatre eschewed the familiar mixed programme of such companies for a full-length worth of extreme beauty with YAMA, choreographed by Damien Jalet. Painstakingly-slow and barely evolving into what could comfortably be described as dancing, YAMA was mesmerising, distinctive, gorgeously-designed and deeply pleasurable. 


    The Peony Pavilion - National Ballet of China at The Lowry [Lyric Theatre]

    National Ballet of China - The Peony Pavilion
    I think I was foolishly expecting something much more culturally clichéd from the National Ballet of China. Instead we were presented with a strikingly designed and rather lovely modern ballet with a clever mix of new Chinese music and familiar classics, cut through with some unearthly Chinese singing. The performances were excellent - some scenes were extraordinary - and The Peony Pavilion proved to be fresh, exciting and modern ballet that expertly melded East and West. 


    Tmesis Theatre - Happy Hour

    Happy Hour - Tmesis Theatre at The Lowry [Aldridge Studio]

    Happy Hour proved to be another fantastic piece of physical theatre. There were small resonances with Gecko's Institute - the office setting, the meaninglessness of work - but this show was pitched very differently: bright, hilarious and brilliantly performed with impressive conviction, physical skill and whip-sharp timing. Modern anxiety expertly dissected.


    The best of the rest...

    • Correction - VerTeDance at The Lowry [Quays Theatre] A Czech company under the creative direction of Jiří Havelka. During Correction the dancers remained in a line in the same spot for the duration of the show, but it was a fascinatingly complex piece on the nature of freedom and restriction that built to a thrilling and oddly-moving climax.  
    • Macbeth at HOME Yes, Shakespeare's Macbeth with the addition of choreography by Lucy Guerin. Very stylish. 
    • Folk - National Dance Company Wales at the Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield A pleasing and varied triple bill from a strong company that don't seem to be able to get a foothold in Manchester. 
    • NDT2 at The Lowry [Lyric Theatre] A very mixed programme of diminishing returns from a company blessed with outstanding dancers. If Alexander Ekman's closer Cacti had been less frustrating they would probably be featured in the list above. I was struck at the time by the quality of this company. 
    • Give Me A Reason To Live - Claire Cunningham at The Lowry [Aldridge Studio] Beautiful, challenging and unexpectedly unsettling from a unique performer. 
    • My Father Was A Terrorist - Igor Vrebac at Contact Not to everyone's taste, not even a dance show as such, but I loved this endurance piece by the charismatic Mr Vrebac. 
    • Swan Lake - Scottish Ballet at the Liverpool Empire Clean, stylish but emotionally-effective, slightly-stripped back re-imagining by David Dawson of the greatest classical ballet. 
    • A Room For All Our Tomorrow's - Igor and Moreno at The Lowry [Aldridge Studio] Another charming but challenging show from this likeable couple. 
    • Shakespeare Triple Bill - Birmingham Royal Ballet at The Lowry [Lyric Theatre] Jessica Lang's contemporary work Wink failed to entirely convince but José Limón's 1948 The Moor's Pavane looked remarkably fresh and clever and Frederick Ashton's The Dream was a delight. 
    • Soul's Paths - Matrafisc Dance Company at The Wonder Inn Promising first showing of an ambitious promenade work from a new Manchester-based company. 
    • Disappearing Acts - Flexer & Sandiland at The Lowry [Compass Room] A slow burner in the round for a small audience that ultimately delivered a satisfying and involving experience
    • Turn 2016 at Contact Having missed this two-night festival of new dance for a couple of years it was good to see such a strong programme from local dance artists in 2016.

    Altogether in 2015 I managed to see an unexpected 34 dance shows (this is stretched a little as I have counted physical theatre and some other kinds of physical performance.) 

    Dance Theatre 2 | Contemporary Dance 16 | Student Companies 3 | Ballet 7 | Physical Performance 3 | Festival 1 | Physical Theatre 2

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  • 12/31/16--05:09: Hopes for 2017: A Wishlist
  • Just a few companies I would like to see in 2017: programmers take note! (I've tried to only include companies I know are currently active, have upcoming new work, have toured work recently or tour regularly.) 

    This list was compiled before any Manchester/Salford (or other 'local' dates were announced. Venues and dates will be added as and when they are - if they are.

    • L-E-V [Sharon Eyal | Gai Behar]
    • Michael Keegan-Dolan
    • Danish Dance Theatre
    • Theo Clinkard - Theo Clinkard's The Listening Room will be included in the programme for Danza Contemporanea de Cuba at The Lowry 17-18 February, but Clinkard is creating a new work This Bright Field for toruing in 2017 and (hopefully) beyond. 
    • Carte Blanche | The Norwegian National Company of Contemporary Dance
    • Mark Bruce Company
    • James Wilton Dance - Contact, 16-17 May
    • Skånes Dansteater 
    • Stephen Petronio Company 
    • Circa
    • Kidd Pivot
    • Sam Coren / Dim Timbre
    • Riccardo Buscarini 
    • Tavaziva 
    • James Cousins Company
    • John Ross Dance
    • Bgroup
    • Cie à contre poil du sens
    • Hagit Yakira dance
    • Blanca Li
    James Wilton Dance - Leviathan 

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    Well, just to keep things interesting - and because nothing has changed (arguably) - I am revisiting my Manchester? No, sorry news update for 2017.

    Find out what's the story with Manchester? No, sorry...

    Basically it is a list of companies that announce touring activity in 2017 but do not include any Manchester or Salford venues in the schedule.

    National Dance Company Wales - not visited the Manchester area since 2011. Have been appearing fairly regularly at Huddersfield's Lawrence Batley Theatre, but their 2017 Spring Tour only visits venues in Wales - which is fair enough - plus Newcastle and Dundee. 

    Shobana Jeyasingh Dance - touring Material Men Redux to Nottingham, Ipswich, Eastleigh, Birmingham, Glasgow and London. Not Manchester. Her work Bayadère – The Ninth Life is included as part of the Sampled programme at The Lowry, however. 

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