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Probe in rehearsal for Running On Empty. Image © Zoe Manders


Audience Ambassadors - Vox Pops

Thursday, 18 December 2014 12:48

On 3 December 2014, six local 'audience ambassadors' were invited to experience a taster of a brand new piece of work that artist Julian Hetzel and dramaturg Miguel Melgares had started creating only that week. Here's what they thought...


Experimental Encounters by Ratna Bibi

Monday, 15 December 2014 11:11

The following blog post is written by Ratna Ribi, sharing her experiences as an Audience Ambassador for our Experimental Encounters project. Read more about Experimental Encounters here:

Wednesday 26th November

The first meeting

Being familiar with South East Dance and their work, I was delighted to be selected to be a audience ambassador for the Experimental Encounters project, working with Julian Hetzel.

Our first meeting was a lovely evening made up of creativity, good food and great company. There was lots of excitement surrounding participation, expectation and the unknown. With no prior knowledge, we were open minded and happy to go with the flow. We briefly introduced ourselves and discussed project themes and ideas.

The evening ended with the group attending Hetain Patel’s fantastic solo performance American Boy at Brighton Dome. To my delight, there was post performance Q&A where I asked Hetain to talk about collaboration as a solo artists/performer.


Audience ambassadors with South East Dance staff and artists Julian Hetzel and Miguel Angel Melgares

Friday 28th November

The second meeting

Following the very pleasant first audience ambassador meeting, I was looking forward to re-grouping, learning more about the project and participating.
We started by re-introducing ourselves, this time with a bit more information and realised how diverse a group we are - crucial in ensuring that the project has a wide variety of experience, perception and feedback.

Julian then told us about the project; how it came about, its current state and future aspiration and development plans, all of which are very interesting. I personally found the collaborative process fascinating especially given the numbers of agencies, partners, countries and individuals involved. This reflected Hetain Patel’s experience of the importance of collaboration, especially within solo work (on Wednesday after the American Boy performance, I asked Hetain to talk about collaboration as a solo artist/performer) .

Julian then shared with the group his research on fear, space, place and reaction from both the general public as well as authorities. This ensured a lively discussion, which was followed by the audience ambassadors sharing their knowledge and experience of fear in Brighton as well as marking specific locations on the map. The general consensus was to avoid the ‘Stag and Hens’ areas as highlighted in The Brighton Line by Sean Sims, who used the iconic imagery of Henry Beck’s London Underground map to create a cultural guide to Brighton.


The Brighton Line by Sean Sims

Please check back for further updates from the participants of Experimental Encounters over the coming months.


Guest review of Mark Bruce's 'Dracula' by Charlotte Constable

Monday, 08 December 2014 12:07

Blood-curdling screams. Flashes of lightning. Murder most horrible. Mark Bruce Company’s interpretation of Bram Stoker’s classic Dracula nails the gothic horror genre, no holds barred.


In the final performance of an impressive 15-venue autumn tour, I witness the bold choreographic style of Bruce’s choreography for the first time. He is unafraid of strong balletic influence and time-honoured modern dance techniques, his love of the traditional conveyed in simplistic set transitions and bags of mime. This may not be for everyone, but for Dracula – published initially in 1897 - it works.

In its opening moments, Dracula (portrayed exquisitely by Jonathan Goddard) gives a pensive solo, playing with the possibility of his dark potential. He squirms and ripples now and again, between slow lunges and light leaps. A story begins to unfold before us, as wolf-like beasts present our protagonist with a stolen baby; a grieving, begging mother appears, and he refuses her plea. 

As the plot continues, more characters from Jonathan Harker’s diaries are introduced. We witness Jonathan and Minas’ romance unfolding in a gentle duet (the aptly cast Wayne Parsons and Eleanor Duval), and more light relief in the form of the coquettish Lucy Westenra’s proposal scene (a charismatic, committed performance by Kristin McGuire). Nicholas Cass-Beggs surprises us all as the Lord who eventually wins her heart with his song – and he really can sing.


But after Jonathan Harker’s graphic and gory transformation from human to vampire, we leave any note of joy from the first half behind, and the performance takes a darker turn. As the score becomes discordant, Dracula’s powers become unavoidable, his charms possessing our two female leads. Goddard’s duet with McGuire is particularly strong and sexy. He courts her with lifts and lunges, gliding embraces, before biting down when she is at her most vulnerable. The stage quickly becomes a bloodbath, with near every character doomed to a vampire’s fate.

Not only does the theatrical choreography embrace the gothic magnificently, but the design for Dracula is flawless. Dorothee Brodruck has crammed into the show’s 100 minutes more costumes than you can shake a string of garlic at. Her black horses – upright performers dressed in leather with chains across their chest and humungous, horrifically inexpressive horse headpieces – are a stroke of genius. Not to mention the elegant fur stoles and distressed nightdresses, whizzing us right back to the 19th century, as well as gory make-up features which appear before our very eyes. Add to this Phil Eddolls’ elaborately detailed iron gate, both transformative as a set and complementary of Guy Hoare’s strong evocative lighting, and you are in production heaven (or hell, as the case may be).


Despite a rather slow, dissolving ending to Dracula’s reign, Bruce’s production leaves us feeling we have witnessed, as one audience member exclaimed, something both ‘magical and horrifying’. Dracula is a well-crafted medley of physical theatre, voice and puppetry, with the addition of very watchable contemporary dance, and without unnecessary abstraction from the original plot. I would see Bruce’s work again.

Written by Charlotte Constable - connect with Charlotte on Twitter @Charlotte_KC

Images by Colin Hawkins


Guest review of Mark Bruce's 'Dracula' by Sumair Hussain

Wednesday, 03 December 2014 10:26

A show that bends the boundaries of dance theatre. Visceral and energetic contemporary dance is combined with subtle movements and song all of which speak a thousand words. Mark Bruce brings gothic terror back on to the British stage with a beautiful ugliness.


This bitter sweet tale is told through stunningly choreographed dancers, whom are bewildering in their facial expressions and carry sentiment with every glimpse. Jonathon Goddard puts on a jaw-dropping performance as his eyes pierce the souls of the audience, and give us an insight into what is a genuinely fearsome world for the infamous Count Dracula. This inner conflict is sensitively served to us as a main course, with a side dish of assault on our senses. As an audience member, be prepared to be taken through a journey that touches the heart, pierces the ears and fogs the vision.

The staging and set alike, attend to the energy of the performance. Dancers interact with iron cast gates by climbing, crucifying and breaking through the back drop. Scurrying rats are mechanically set off, smoke seeps through the gaps between front row seats and performers take the physical shape of creatures of the night.

Amongst all this darkness, we are exposed to inclinations of humanity. Love, lust and longing are all thematically hinted at. Equally, this performance provokes the imagination and sanctions the audience to resolve their own cathartic responses. My only criticism would be the sluggish scene transitions which distracts from the striking illusion that is, Dracula's playground.


The run continues on Wednesday 3rd and Thursday 4th 2014 December at The Old Market, Hove:

Written by Sumair Hussain 02/12/14 - connect with Sumair on Twitter @SumairTheatre

Images by Colin Hawkins



Park by Sidonie Carey-Green

Friday, 28 November 2014 14:49


The chaos of life is everywhere! Jasmin Vardimon Company’s Park reminded us of this at their performance at the Brighton Dome on the 21st of November ’14 which was bursting with cheeky metaphors and dark undertones. Although this piece was originally created in 2004, it still resonated with us the audience and effortlessly tackled themes of ownership, bullying and love within the UK.

Within the first two minutes of the performance, I was transported back to my own 2004 self. The piece was able to recall a naivety in me that I had not experienced in a long time when seeing a dance work. I was in awe of the strength and stamina of the dancers! Their bodies flew through space in a way that is iconic to Vardimon’s work but also manages to shock the audience every time it is presented. Having studied a lot of her work but never seen it live, I could not believe the strength of every single company member, they had an outstanding technical ability and power that allowed them to smoothly negotiate the set design with ease, whether it was climbing up, jumping over or swinging around, they always managed to perform with confidence.

The musical score of the piece did well to compliment the exciting relationships and complex choreography. It felt as though the sound had not come a long way from the 2004 version which, in my opinion, actually helped us to sit firmly within the world of the piece. There were no mobile phones, there was no dubstep and there was no twitter. It was glorious!

The relationships that shifted and developed throughout the piece were incredibly well showcased through Vardimon’s choreography. The movement was risk taking and energetic (as has come to be expected from Vardimon’s work) but also the contact work had an intense complexity that enabled the audience to look directly into the world of the characters and their feelings towards each other. This was expertly complimented by speech, as the characters seemed to choose precise moments to use voice when the movement would not fully communicate their intentions.

Interestingly, I found that some of the concepts that fed into the piece and kept it alive were shown fairly subtly, and the audience in the stalls could have missed them. This was a shame as these images may have helped to bring cohesion to the piece. However the performance as a whole was powerful, fresh and inspiring. It offered an accessibility that allowed the audience to create their own distinctive interpretations of the work so that every experience was unique. This is a must see performance!

Image © Ben Harries


STEAM [Work-in-progress] by Maria Palma Teixeira

Thursday, 06 November 2014 15:50

steam 4

Last Friday, 31st October, we had the chance to “sneak a peek” the most recent work of The Urban Playground Team, STEAM, a co-production with South East Dance and Pavilion Dance South West and supported by the Arts Council England and the National Railway Museum.
The full show will be released next year and one thing we can be sure is that the audience would have not hesitated to see more.


steam 5

It is not an easy task to mix different types of body language in one show only: it is risky, it can be a disaster; but it can also be absolutely amazing. From parkour (also known as free running) to contemporary and urban dance, without forgetting physical theatre, The Urban Playground Team innovates performance as you have never seen before and with a good dose of humour.
In the beginning, Alister O’loughlin, co-founder of the team, introduced the show after a warm up game. Alister called it a “game of cooperation”, where an increasingly bigger group of dancers/traceurs/actors/participants share the same space. It made a parallelism with the chaos of the London underground or any other busy public transport during rush hour. This game gave an idea of the multiple physical and abstract exploration opportunities the metallic structure had, but did not prepare the audience to what was about to happen.


Inspired by the Wild West films, STEAM [Work-in-progress] combined risky stunts with slow-motion scenes and visual narratives. We were rapidly reported to somewhere in the old west, when a gang assaults a locomotive at almost-full speed and gets caught up in a fight. Moving around metallic barrels – the structure that simulates the loco and where all the show develops – the team creates cinematographic storytelling choreography between the lyrical, the tragic and the comedy.

steam 7

If we take a look back at the example of some dance forms, such as Latin rhythms (Tango, Sevillanas, and others), or religious/ritualistic dances, as African tribal dances or oriental expressions, like the Sufi whirling, just to randomly name a few, we can notice that, certainly some more than others, have been placed from outdoors to indoors, borrowed by the streets to the stages. If on the one hand it seems to miss out the dance’s roots, its primarily focus and essence, on the other hand it is a way of showcasing dance genres in other places than its original ones, and where audiences in no other way would have access to it. The Urban Playground Team (UPGTeam) – which has as a member Malik Diouf, a co-creator of parkour - brings the art of parkour closer to audiences, not only through site-specific performances, but also through workshops, in order to engage with local communities. After all, what does parkour mean but overcoming barriers – be them physical or socio-cultural?

steam 6

The UPGTeam has proven it is possible to bring parkour indoors and in not a less-overwhelming way than outdoors (consider the previous shows Run This Town (2013) or A Day in Life (2012), for example). The idea of STEAM, however, is to build a site-specific performance that adapts to different sets, whether indoors or outdoors (as it happened, for example, with The Inner City (2013)). The full show will be composed by micro-choreographies inspired by the silent films of Buster Keaton, Agatha Christie’s novels, James Bond’s stunts, the workers of Sovient Avant Garde, and the heartbreak of the First World War. This makes the show adaptable to different contexts, as well as to different audiences. Furthermore, as if it was not innovative enough, the show will include participants of the workshops UPGTeam promotes during the tour.

steam 3

The UPGTeam creates a real sense of participation in community, team work and share of experiences, making the audience feel part of the show’s creative process, and not only spectators of it – and out of that they really create something new and worthy to support.

Images © Maria Palma Teixeira.


Farewell Associates

Monday, 29 September 2014 14:37

We've enjoyed a fantastic two years working with our Associate Artists Antonia Grove and Ben Duke. As their Associateships with us have now come to an end, we thought we'd take a trip down memory lane to reflect on some of the highlights of their time with us, including:

  • Two national tours and two creations by Antonia and Ben 
  • A combined total of over 16,000 audience members saw live performances Antonia and Ben's work
  • Both Associates performed to great success at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, with Antonia's Small Talk part of the British Council Showcase
  • Ben's company Lost Dog toured the UK and France with performances of It Needs Horses/Home For Broken Turns and ran accompanying participatory programmes
  • Following on from this success Ben created a new production Like Rabbits, in collaboration with Olivier award winner Lucy Kirkwood, originally commissioned by the Almeida Festival with further commissioning by the Brighton Festival and the Place and a sold out performance at the Brighton Festival 2014
  • Antonia's company Probe created new production Running on Empty, which toured within the UK and France, also with accompanying participatory programmes; the tour included a 2 week performance run on the main stage of the reputed Soho Theatre and culminated in performances as part of the Brighton Festival 2014

Take a look at some of the many visual highlights of their work below:


Small Talk. Image © Matthew Andrews


Small Talk. Image © Matthew Andrews


Running on Empty rehearsal. Image © Zoe Manders


Running on Empty. Image © Matthew Andrews


Running on Empty. Image © Zoe Manders


Running on Empty. Image © Zoe Manders


Running on Empty. Image © Zoe Manders


Home For Broken Turns rehearsal. Image © Rob Hogeslag


Home For Broken Turns. Image © Rob Hogeslag


It Needs Horses. Image © Benedict Johnson


It Needs Horses. Image © Benedict Johnson


Ben Duke class with Three Score Dance Company. Image © Zoe Manders


Like Rabbits. Image © Zoe Manders


Like Rabbits. Image © Zoe Manders

Many congratulations Antonia and Ben for all you have achieved and will no doubt continue to achieve, with warmest good wishes for the future from all at South East Dance.


Brighton’s Charleston Dance Craze goes Viral

Friday, 12 September 2014 08:56

The “I Charleston” project has fired people’s imaginations and passion for dance from New York to Paris and beyond. And now, Brighton is the latest city to join the Charleston World Map, a series of global viral films that showcase the dance talents and the iconic sites of the city.

The ‘‘I Charleston Brighton’’ film is an energetic, colourful spectacle of dance, costume and humour. With music to match, the viral video captures the quirky character of Brighton, its people and frivolity. Standout scenes include a fan dancer, Charleston dancing at the naked bike ride, two pole dancing builders and a scene shot in the sea. The film launched last week at a private screening attended by the Mayor of Brighton & Hove, Councillor Brian Fitch.

The project was initiated and run by two local dancers and filmmakers Elena Collins and Fiona Ring. It took them took six months to choreograph, film and edit and features over forty locations around the City. They collaborated with a wide range of local dance groups and performers including Streetfunk and Live Love Hoop, as well as running dance courses where people could learn the choreography so they could take part in the film. In total over 80 dancers were involved in the film ranging from 5 to 80 years in age.


Elena explained: ‘’We really wanted to capture the diverse and individual spirit of Brighton so we were delighted that so many dance and performance groups volunteered their time to be a part of the project. Thanks to them, we managed to capture the creative vibe of our city.’’

"I Charleston the World" has become a global phenomenon with more than 70 cities participating across four continents. In England though, only London and Liverpool have completed an “I Charleston” video. Brighton has upped the ante by filming not only the main attractions but also some of Brighton’s best kept secrets.



Due to the popularity of the Charleston classes, Elena and Fiona will be continuing to teach with more exciting projects lined up for the fall. Fiona said: “It’s such a joyful way to move. The music and diverse styles we use make it a really enjoyable experience. As well as the classes and film project, we hope to create opportunities for social dancing so that we can really grow a community of dancers’’.



Images and film supplied by I Charleston


Big Dance 2014 on twitter by Benji Anker

Monday, 01 September 2014 11:26

July & August have been packed months for South East Dance.

July brought us Kent Dancing 2014. From Protein's energetic pop-up performances of (In)Visible Dancing in Canterbury city centre to international outdoor dance Cubing Bis inspired by iconic abstract artist Mondrian. Here’s what you had to say:

Big Dance in Brighton also made an impact with the return of Reckless Sleepers' raw and splintering A String Section. Armed with over 100 wooden chairs, 15 performers including 10 local volunteers, all armed with saws, performed to an intrigued audience at Circus Street Market.

This month on twitter is a monthly blog by South East Dance. Why not follow us on twitter and let us know your thoughts about events and performances in the South East region.


(in)visible Dancing by Alex Doble

Tuesday, 05 August 2014 14:22


'It's a strange thing,' I suppose I would stutter as I struggle and clutch for the right way to describe (in)visible Dancing.

I feel as though Canterbury would agree with me in my choice of words - and the city would definitely agree that 'strange' and 'brilliant' are by no means mutually exclusive.



What I think makes the show particularly special is how truly live it is. The dances are choreographed and rehearsed, of course - but the routines hit the street exposed and raw - they adapt and evolve and are influenced by every fine detail of the day - from the weather, to the attitudes of the general public, to the overarching vibe of the city at any given moment.

The response from passers-by (who quickly ceased to pass) was comparable to a crowd watching fireworks. Delight, disbelief, bewilderment, and joy all spilled together and cascaded into captivation. 'Isn't this brilliant?', I was asked - or rather, informed - again and again; 'I've never seen anything like it!'


There were many small moments that brought a smile to my face - from the first moment I spotted a dancer in the street, to the looks on old ladies' faces as somebody somersaulted past them, to the secret grins on the performer's faces in the lead-up to Sunday afternoon's finale - but what will stay with me was the willingness of the people in the street to support, encourage, and even to join in with the dancers.




It takes an incredible amount of conviction and skill to win over the British public. We go out of our way to remain stoic and unimpressed - and it's a real testiment to the talents of everyone involved that they melted the hearts and raised the spirits of everyone they encountered last week. The proof is in the turn-out for Sunday's finale: the streets were lined with excited spectators eagerly awaiting their next fix of (in)visible Dancing - and it did not disappoint. A smattering of new numbers instigated by local dance troupes made for a performance that took me (in spite of my having seen the show at least eight times previously) by surprise with its sheer breadth and depth. Even when the clouds broke and unleashed a downpour upon the town like we haven't seen since winter, everybody stayed huddled around, sharing umbrellas and joining in with the dancing to keep warm. It was uplifting, and disinhibiting; dancing is something that I personally find genuinely humiliating - it's something I shy away from whenever it makes an appearance in my life or vicinity - but by the Sunday show, I was joining in with the final routine, in the rain, in front of what felt like the whole of Canterbury - and it was just the most liberating thing.




Images by Benji Anker


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