Thursday, 29 September 2011

…and the Lord said, let there be D A N C E

Over the past 7 days I have seen over 10 pieces of dance, performance and staged spectacle. This is my outlet for sharing some of the ubertasticness of these physical offerings.

It all started quite beautifully with the exquisitely economical Jane Mason who performed her new work Singer, a 30 minute ode to all the things interesting to her like ambiguity, weight, light, song and construction. A refreshingly simple presentation yet rich with emotion and connections, it left room for the audience to absorb and process the environments that Jane presented. She also presented her awarding film Andout with some wonderful soundscape by Jules Maxwell.

It was then ramped up in scale to a complete polar opposite. The four story temporary glass fronted Electric Hotel was constructed outside in Bournemouth and the audience witnessed and heard (through a delightfully composed soundtrack played to the audience individually over pairs of headphones) a mysterious incident, which shall remained unnamed. Twas an adventure in repetition, with slight glitches in the movement presented again and again, filmic in its construction and how the audience could follow multiple narratives of the hotel residents over and over and over again.

Next stop was the launch of a new dance space, South East Dance Studios, in Kent with 7 different pieces for the audience to watch and take part in. The delightful Mayakaras (a Kent based youth dance group under the watchful eye of Lila Dance) entranced the audience with a performance full of attack and authenticity missing in many “professional” works. Tony Adigun created (with students from Hextable School) a processional site specific work moving the audience in and out of corridors, studios, shower rooms and foyers, Billy Cowie's 3D film Tango de Soledad and Rosemary Butcher kicked the night off with architecture/roof/aerial dance framed by a slowly fading dusk light with some luminescent wings. Swanley have never had it so good.

Finally a brutal and ferocious presentation of a new work by La La La Human Steps, choreographed by the ever pioneering Edouard Lock from Montreal. Ballet like you have never seen. Timed to the nano second, met with precision on both the musicality and physicality, the dancers ooze panache yet create exquisite shapes with such swiftness, you begin to question whether they are indeed human. A relentless 90 mins, with no break, a new score by Gavin Bryars and some of the finest lighting design, dancing and choreography you’re likely to see.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Who Loves Northampton?

...well we sure do, after landing in the county town of fair Northamptonshire yesterday.

A brilliant market town with oodles of interesting architecture and history. We embarked on a town trail, following a map of over 20 highlighted venues and points of interest and had a jolly time doing so.

Our first major port of call was this little beauty, the Guildhall. Home to all sorts of local authority activity, the interior was simply divine, lots of detail in the brick work and even the stained glass had been in situ so long, it had sunk to the bottom and thickened. It had the look of a mini St Pancras hotel about it.

We only made our way around the town because we found Oliver Adams, "150 years in the baking" who aided us with their tasty bakery offerings. I encountered a pineapple cake, which we were informed by the pastry operative had its origins in Scotland where there's a larger dome. Tracey had a large bun complete with fruit and all sorts of other filling.

There's a large cultural and artistic heritage to be found as well including the only house that Charles Renee Mackintosh created in England, a gold award winning historic house chocked full with Mack attacks, the Royal and Derngate theatre which is an impressive building (though the programme is a trifle safe) and the art gallery has an internationally renowned collection of shoes (the local football team is known as the cobblers due to the main historic industry in the town).

The market square was also a little stunner and here's an old postcard view, though it hasn't changed a jot. A conker also fell on my head in the local graveyard, so I won't forget that in a hurry.

Thanks for having us Northampton, you were wonderful!

Monday, 5 September 2011

The Chain Gang

Beaming with pride, we head up to my (Ian) home town this Sunday at the invitation of my Auntie Irene with Tracey and my mum. Not just an Auntie - but a Councillor, not just a Councillor but the Deputy Mayor of Newark upon Trent.

A feisty widow who lives on Yorke Drive (think Beirut roads, poor sink estate reputation and plenty of odd and colourful characters) Irene has served her community as both a Cllr and community elder for many years, trying to right local wrongs and make sure the voices of her wards are heard and acted upon by the powers that be.

The invitation in question is at the Parish Church for the Annual Battle of Britain Commemorative Service, followed by a reception at the Town Hall afterwards in the presence of the the Mayor himself Cllr Bryan Richardson. I loved receiving said formal invitation with the coat of arms of Newark emblazoned across the top in gold leaf.

A little bit of history for you. The wavy water, otter and beaver all reference the importance of the River Trent that runs through the heart of the town and the arms were granted in 1561 with the motto "Deo Fretus Erumpe" (translating as Trust God and Sally Forth) added in 1912.