The recent performances of the New English Ballet Theatre were a breath of fresh air for its spread of audiences. Opening night at the Peacock Theatre, London, saw a multitude of audiences vying for a taste of the company’s work, still reasonably new and fresh on the dance and ballet scene. The cast were all a credit to the company, well trained dancers who ate up the stage.
The company began as a summer festival of productions, looking to becoming a full time company. It is neo-classical in genre and encompasses a huge variety of styles and vocabulary in as wide a spectrum as possible. The company employs over one hundred classical dancers, giving them lots of support from the dance world at a high level. This company of emerging dancers was born from the huge talent pool of the industry and the lack of jobs available.
The company is solely dedicated to producing neo-classical work but as a cross-discipline company, commissioning a number of young artists, musicians and designers to work alongside the company. It is clear the company is going from strength to strength, especially evident from the mixed programme recently presented in London. Following the Peacock Theatre, the company will be performing at the Lantern Studio Theatre in Canary Wharf: it has recently been rehearsing five world premieres!
In terms of long-term goals, the company aims to expand its programming and build up the company’s repertoire of commissioned works of exciting new neo-classical choreography, becoming the number one company for this style of work. It has been lucky recently to receive an arts council grant for audience development and touring to arts festivals in Europe, and delivering larger programmes in the UK.
LIMBO, as part of the London Wonderground festival at the Southbank Centre, is just one example of circus shows, and is in itself a dazzling feast. Full of fire, contortion, aerial work, tap dancing and jazzy interludes breaking up the action, the show is made up of performers from all corners of the world, including Canada, France, the United States and Russia. Cirque due Soleil is another outlandish performance of this type, the multifaceted creative performance which includes the beautiful, the daring and the innovative in terms of ‘circus’.
In each of Cirque du Soleil’s shows, or any other of this type for example, each performer is talent heavy. It is clear that the shows’ directors look to achieve eclectic individualism through multi-talented performers who bring something different to each performance, speaking to each member of the audience. For LIMBO, the performers brought a certain sexiness and edginess to the stage. They worked closely alongside each other with a delicate chemistry resulting in an intimate evening in an eclectic pop-up circus space.
Heather Holliday shone as a vintage beauty who pouted her way through the chaos to later swallow 2 swords and ignite her tattooed thighs before eating the fire and smoking the flames. Evelynne Allard, as an aerial specialist who has also appeared in Cirque du Soleil, wowed in her hoop performance metres above the stage space and added much humour to the interludes between the main performance. Superb talent came in the form of a tap dancing, tumbling trio which revolved between four dancers. The males turned their hands to both skill and performance, concluding the show as an undiscovered mesh of talent and performative illusion, deserved of more recognition.
U.Dance 2012 as part of Youth Dance England was marketed as this summer’s biggest youth dance festival. It took place between the 13 and 15 July at the Southbank Centre, celebrating talent from all over London and the entire country. The performance of the opening night was filled with acts full of fun and energy from some of the most exceptional youth dance groups, selected after performing in regional platforms earlier in the year.
The new UK youth dance company, the U.Dance Ensemble, premièred their new piece TANK, choreographed by world-acclaimed choreographer Hofesh Shechter. As an incredible privilege to perform at U.Dance itself, the U.Dance Ensemble truly was the leotard adorned icing on the cake. The show also featured an array of high standard contemporary performances from, amongst others, The Place’s Shift group and Northern Ireland’s Dance Society.
Saturday saw a range of free activities offered to the enthusiastic U.Dance audiences suitable for the whole family. These included open workshops in Lindy Hop and Kathak dance, dance film screenings presented by young dancers, and some colourful performances at the Fringe platform in The Clore Ballroom at Royal Festival Hall complete with tap shoes and black character shoes, programmed by the National Youth Dance Ambassadors of Youth Dance England. The ‘Take Two’ show, which followed in the evening, showcased even more groups selected including Wales and Scotland’s national youth dance companies, and a performance especially devised for the festival by Candoco’s company of disabled and non-disabled dancers.
Similar free activities were offered on Sunday too as the final day of the festival with the added opportunity of a masterclass led by Hofesh Shechter for young dancers, the whole festival indicating the sheer love of dance by those who attended. Closing the event was a finale again featuring the U.Dance Ensemble, in addition to performances from London’s highly skilled Centre for Advanced Training dancers from Trinity Laban and The Place. The talent demonstrated throughout the event was truly inspiring, with focused young individuals eager to lead the way for dance within the arts sector.
Image courtesy of U.Dance.
Following the Accidental Festival on June 1st at the Camden Roundhouse, it is clear from this one event in the dance events of 2012 that the future of the sector looks extremely bright, from leotards to pointe shoes, from leg warmers to jazz sneakers. The evening was named Dance 1:1 (dance 1st on the 1st), and marked a significant event for the Accidental Festival, produced by students from the Central School of Speech and Drama. Dance had never been included in the festival’s programme before 2012, and the night was a resounding success. Dance 1:1 presented works by 5 emerging and upcoming London-based choreographers of yet unknown dance companies, providing a solid platform for these aspiring artists to launch their exciting careers.
Particularly standing out were the companies Charlie Dixon Dance Company and Emco Dance. CDDC presented animalistic view of the power and skill of dancers, and those particularly cast by Dixon. The intensity of the company was constantly present in their performance and interactions with each other, embodying an extremely energetic and intricate style of strength and endurance. Formed in 2011, CDDC are a company constantly reaching for new audiences to share their creative insights, performing at many platforms in England and Wales. Dixon’s artistic direction places emphasis on highly technical and explosive bodily movement, set to carry the company on a long and successful journey on from the Accidental Festival. Whilst the movement was aesthetically pleasing, it remained innovative and varying, rather than resorting to familiar movement phrases or even current trends of contemporary dance today which are seen so regularly.
Emco Dance was a company constructed of second year Trinity Laban students, particularly embodying the ethos of the “dance festival”, in the twenty-first century more than ever. The focus and dedication of the dancers was remarkable, questioning the physical deconstruction of the human body and our emotional, physical and mental elements that we consist of. Formed in 2012, the new company featured dancers halfway through their training and it was inspiring to view Emco as a semi-professional company alongside other more established companies as equals, each bringing an important dance message to the surface of their performances. The dancers were united in their display of the passion which drives the young performer and the unique skills they must have to fulfil this, reassuring the audience that the future of dance today is not so bleak.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.