Dance – Sampled

dance-2In Dance Sampled, we are witness to ten minute extracts of dance from companies in genres including Flamenco, Tango, Contemporary, Ballet and Break. This example of how to see dance and also how we can become audiences of dance is a really interesting and intriguing one.

Delivered by The Movement, a collaborative from Birmingham Hippodrome, Saddlers Wells and The Lowry, all are committed to bringing a new wave of watching, focussing on accessibility and inclusivity. The collection of work is an exceptional evening of dance from 8 dancemakers who enthral the audience. It is wonderful to see that the audience present matches the variety and diversity of the performances in a packed out Lyric theatre.

Before each performance we’re introduced to the work with a projected interview on stage with the performers or choreographer. This is insightful, it lands the work for the audience and magnifies the eloquence of language we have for the variety of performances we are celebrating.

Flamenco trio dotdotdot open the evening with flamenco collaborations in a sublime cacophony, fan opening across live guitar across vocals from Javier Ribera across dancers beating through canons of dance from the determined trio and layered with lyrics from spoken word artist Toni Stuart, magnificent!

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BBC Young Dancer of the Year 2015, Conor Scott holds the centre of the evening with a majestic physicality, presence and creativity. His original piece is a wonderful exploration of loneliness, nostalgia and joy.

The audience welcome the essence of purity in The Faun danced beautifully by Yanelis Godoy and Julio Torres, choreography by Sidi Larbi, Cherkaoui originally danced by James O’Hara & Daisy Philips with Music by Claude Debussy and Nitin Sawhney.

The evening culminates in a daring performance by bgroup The Ruggeds from Holland dancing with skills that I have never experienced before, they’re pushing boundaries, skating across the floor in inversions, twisting in the air with raw energy and landing like tigers. The have a capacity for danger and play, a really exciting performance.

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The dancers and the dances throughout this evening have an extraordinary flare and each have a really unique talent, which makes the evening a real spectacle. The beauty of this project lies not only in the stunning performances but the accessibility of it, the highly engaging bite-sized excerpts give audiences a chance to experience a broad range of dance at affordable prices, with tickets available for just £15. In addition to this audience members were also invited to participate in a wide variety of workshops activities within the theatre foyer across the two day stay, an enormously engaging evening and a great opportunity to experience all dance has to offer. Highly recommended.

Guest reviewer: Kate Jackson

 

The Peony Pavilion

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In heading to The Lowry for The National Ballet of China’s production of The Peony Pavilion , I knew could expect excellence but had no other preconceived idea. I guess the introduction to the evening prepared for something different, the choreographer introducing his cast and the story was quite different, enigmatic and totally charming. I felt closer to the story already. Often described at the Chinese Romeo and Juliet, The Peony Pavilion tells the story of a young girl, Du Liniang who falls into a slumber and dreams of falling in love with a young scholar, Liu Mengmei.

The opening solo dance was effortless and quite beautifully abstract, stunning choreography from Fei Bo . A central square which changed throughout the play as dreamspace or prison or a solitary confinement was a minimalist design which made the lines across the stage so clean.

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The set was stunning, for most of the play there was a huge branch which embodied the back half of the stage sitting on a high diagonal which gave a poetic presence of absence, confirming the nature of seasonal change when leaves leave before new buds can grow.

The costumes were stunning especially the chinese opera singer Jia Pengfei who moved like a geisha and gave the most interesting performance of the evening, she dressed and undressed seamlessly describing time or drawing a warning. They were jaw dropping with elaborate, finely detailed embroidery of classical chinese flowers at times she took shape of rose through the movement of her material. The tiny chiffon layers of the ensemble followed the whipping of pirouettes or lame duck sequenced complex choreography.

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There’s a sense the company is moving with this piece into a modern classical style, a mixture of classical contemporary techniques interwoven into the ballet, the theme of marrying pointe work with bare feet wasn’t as interesting choreographically as it may have tried to be.

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The second half gave rewarding performances in a lead male solo and ghost duets . The huge cast gave a warm performance, the stage rained with peony petals, changed into a forest environment where the ensemble played with trailing green neon light in a poi like chained ball which left resonance in the space as they moved.

It was a charming portrayal of the story, striking and utterly captivating.

 

English National Ballet – Giselle

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Choreographed and Directed by Akram Khan, with co-production from Manchester International Festival and Sadlers Wells, Giselle is quite simply magnificent. Having seen the classical ballet only once before being asked to choreograph this new interpretation, Akram Khan has created something so special and unique I would have happily stayed in my seat and waited the 24 hours until the next performance just for the chance to see this magical piece again.

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Powerful, emotive and hauntingly beautiful. Khan has taken Giselle, originally choreographed in 1842 by Jules Perrot and Jean Coralli and brought it bang up to date, expanding it’s themes of love, betrayal, reality, the afterlife, money, power and the injustice that comes with not having either, so apt for the times we live in. Khan’s Outcasts are a community of peasant migrant workers disposed of by their employers and banished behind a thick and impenetrable wall, their only use now seemingly is to entertain the factory Landlords ,should their elitist former employers so desire.

Despite this dark and desolate life refugee Giselle (Alina Cojocaru) still finds hope and a love to cling to in the form of Albrecht (Issac Hernandez), a wealthy suitor who has crossed the line after becoming transfixed by Giselle’s beauty. Their love affair sadly has not gone unnoticed by Hilarion (Cesar Corrales) a peasant ‘fixer’ who shifts his allegiance from his community to the wealthy Landlords for his own gain, Hilarion will set about to ensure that Giselle and Albrecht do not get their happy ending.

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Vincenzo Lamagna’s reworking of Adolphe Adam’s score injects drama and grit with its powerful industrial presence, paired beautifully with Mark Henderson’s dynamic lighting design and Academy Award winning Tim Yip’s epic visual design and incredible costumes this production is destined to become a modern classic, a piece you would happily return to time and time again and discover something new on each visit. It is quite simply breath-taking; the skill on show left me speechless.

In Act II we see Giselle arrive in the afterlife, a ghost-factory inhabited by the Wills, (haunted spirits of the ill-treated factory girls) their en pointe work is dazzling, they appear to hover ghost like en masse, powerful and dark they are completely hypnotic with their tumbling unkempt waist length hair and tattered, rag-like dresses. Khan isn’t afraid to use long dramatic silences where you find yourself holding your breath afraid to break the silence yet desperate for the next mesmerising move from the stunning Company.

Bold and inspiring, Giselle more than deserved the standing ovation it received. Special mention must go to Principles, Alina Cojocaru, Issac Hernandez, Cesar Corrales and Begona Cao, all gave exquisite and unforgettable performances. My advice would be to beg, steal or borrow to get a ticket to this truly ground-breaking and achingly brilliant production.

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Giselle, The Palace Theatre, 27th Sept-1st October 2017

http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/giselle/palace-theatre-manchester/

Matthew Bourne’s, The Red Shoes

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29th Nov – 3rd Dec, The Lowry, Salford

Based on the Academy Award-winning film by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and the much loved Hans Christian Andersen fairytale with music by Bernard Herrmann, New Adventures will bring their World Premiere of Matthew Bourne’s new production, The Red Shoes to Salford this November. The show will run at The Lowry from Tue 29 November to Saturday 3 December 2016.

Supported by Arts Council England, The Red Shoes has seduced audiences and inspired generations of dancers with its tale of obsession, possession and one girl’s dream to be the greatest dancer in the world. Victoria Page lives to dance but her ambitions become a battleground between the two men who inspire her passion.

Creating the coveted role of Victoria Page will be the Australian dancer and New Adventures Principal, Ashley Shaw. Ashley is currently wowing audiences in her breath-taking performance as Aurora in Matthew Bourne’s “Sleeping Beauty”. She has been dancing with New Adventures since 2009 performing many of the Company’s leading female roles including “Nutcracker!”, ‘Lana’ in “The Car Man”, ‘Kim’ in “Edward Scissorhands” and the title role in “Cinderella”. This will be her first created role in a new production.

Matthew Bourne said: “It has been a long held ambition of mine to bring “The Red Shoes” to the stage as a dance/drama. It is set in the theatrical world of a touring dance company. It is actually about dance and dancers, a world that we all understand so well. However, the film’s genius is to make that theatrical world at times surreal, larger than life and highly cinematic. My challenge will be to capture some of that surreal, sensuous quality within the more natural theatre setting. It has also long been an ambition of mine to bring the incomparable music of Bernard Herrmann to the stage. It has been fascinating to discover how much of this music lends itself to story-telling through dance and this production will, I believe, be the first full length ballet to celebrate his unique music.”

Matthew Bourne’s magical new adaptation of the legendary Powell and Pressburger film reunites him with his regular collaborators and New Adventures Associate Artists and the team that brought you the world wide hit, “Sleeping Beauty”; Lez Brotherston (set and costumes), Paule Constable (lighting) and Paul Groothuis (sound).

This World Premiere is set to a new score arranged by New Adventures Associate Artist, Terry Davies using the mesmerizing music of golden-age Hollywood composer, Bernard Herrmann (most famous for his collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles and Martin Scorsese), whose work ranges from the witty and playfully robust to the achingly romantic and bittersweet.

An intoxicating drama where life imitates art with fateful consequences; The Red Shoes will dazzle your senses and break your heart.

Tue 29 Nov – Sat 3 Dec 2016

http://www.thelowry.com/event/the-red-shoes