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


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


Being 'Reckless' for Big Dance Brighton

Thursday, 31 July 2014 15:51

For Big Dance 2014 in Brighton, we (along with Foundation for Community Dance) commissioned the fantastic Anglo-Belgian company Reckless Sleepers to come to Circus Street Market and create a unique re-working of their acclaimed piece A String Section. Unique because members of the company created the work with and on a group of local women, who came together over a period of four days (9-12 July) to make and perform this fascinating work. We think the pictures speak for themselves...











































































































































































































































Images by Zoe Manders.





U.Dance 2014, Nottingham experience by Jahmarley Bachelor of The L and S Youth Dance Company

Tuesday, 15 July 2014 14:36

‘The L&S Youth Dance Company’ (The Long & Short Youth) was ecstatic to have been chosen from the South East to perform in Nottingham. Not only was it a big step in the growth of the L&S youth dance company, but it was also a huge opportunity for us all to bond as a company.

Our first day consisted of checking into our rooms, getting ready for dinner and preparing ourselves for a Lindy Hop workshop. The majority of us were most excited for the latter. Upon arrival at Nottingham Trent University the whole company, chaperones included, were struck with this feeling of surrealism. Not only did the number of dancers surrounding us overcome us all, but we were also starting realize what an amazing experience U.Dance 2014 would be. Day one had to be the funniest experience out of the four days we were in Nottingham, mainly due to the dancers getting to have good laugh at our teachers/chaperones whilst they participated in the Lindy Hop dance. The memorable moments had already started to take place.

Over the consecutive four days in Nottingham ‘The L&S Youth Dance Company’ got the chance to participate in some fantastic workshops, led by some very prestigious choreographers within the industry. As a company, we all took part in different workshops. This then enabled us to then feedback with one another about our own experiences of trying something new. We had wide range of workshops to choose from, consisting of: an urban workshop (run by Gareth Woodward, who inspired us all in the careers seminar), a ballet class with Birmingham Royal Ballet, an NYDC workshop/audition led by Tim Casson, a Kathak class with Sujata Banerjee and finally a contemporary class with Katie Green. All of which were extraordinary!

‘The L&S Youth Dance Company’ also got to attend two seminars. One focused upon nutrition for a dancer, the other was based upon potential careers we could look into after our dance training. Both of which were extremely informative and interesting. It was inspiring for us all to listen to professionals in the careers seminar who are, or have been in the dance industry. As well as the careers talk, we also got taught about the pros and cons of particular foods in the nutrition seminar, and what types of foods we should be eating as dancers.


Not only did we get to participate in the workshops, but we had also been chosen to do a ‘dance in a day’ workshop with Sonia Sabri. This had to be another memorable moment for ‘The L&S Youth Dance Company’, due to it taking us all out of our comfort zones. We were working alongside the ‘Chorley & District Boys Dance Company’ who had been selected from the North West. This gave us a great opportunity to socialize and meet new people, as well as appreciate Sonia Sabri’s reinvented style of kathak dance. Working with Sonia Sabri, for just under five hours, to create a piece that we would be performing that very same day made us all very nervous. But at the same time, very determined. We wanted to do Sonia Sabri proud! Despite it being a long process, we pulled it off. It was a great feeling to know that we had managed to do something completely different, yet our determination resulted in a piece we were all so proud of.

Our favourite part of U.Dance 2014 had to be performing at the Nottingham Playhouse, as it is such a prestigious venue; we felt honoured. Watching the other youth dance companies’ performances, for our showcase on the Saturday, also inspired us. It was great to watch the other companies showcase their pieces that they had brought to Nottingham. We all managed to come back with a wider movement vocabulary, due to the other youth dance companies. Knowingly or not, the other companies helped ‘The L&S Youth Dance Company’ a lot.


Overall U.Dance 2014 had been a surreal, amazing, action-packed adventure for ‘The L&S Youth Dance Company’. As exhausted as we were, we are all very grateful to the South East Dance judges. They gave us a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a part of such a prestigious event. Watching several amazing performances each night, participating in workshops, getting to look around Nottingham, eating good food, being put in great accommodation and being able to socialize with different dance companies from across the whole of England. Every single part of U.Dance 2014 was fantastic!


U.Dance Nottingham by members of Overground Fusion

Tuesday, 15 July 2014 14:31

Following a 3 night run of their college musical Cabaret, members of Overground Fusion Dance Company boarded their coach for the journey to Nottingham for U Dance 2014!! 30 minutes into our journey the coach broke down on the motorway! After standing in single file in their Pj's on the hard shoulder they were rescued by 4 police cars who transported them to the nearest service station were they boarded a new coach at 1.00am, finally arriving in Nottingham at 4.00am!!


Despite this 'Overground' were up at 7.00am full of excitement and raring to go!
Day 1 - was spent at Lakeside Art Centre were the dancers spent the day working with Sarah Dowling from Punchdrunk Dance Theatre, exploring roman artefacts in the university museum and translating these into movement which later informed a site specific performance.

Each evening the dancers gathered at Nottingham Playhouse to watch each other’s performances, the atmosphere was electric, each company from across the region brought something new and inspiring, the standard was incredible. A highlight most defiantly was the National Youth Dance Companies performance which was simply breath taking.

Day 2 - The dancers had the change to take morning class and workshops with professionals from across a variety of genres, this was insightful and pushed our dancers out of their comfort zone as they tried out new styles of dance including Musical Theatre, Urban, Ballet and South Asian Dance.


Day 3 - Performance day for 'Overground'! - the company were really nervous but just could not wait to get on the stage. It was a real memorable and proud moment when we entered the auditorium for our tech rehearsal and saw for the first time our name on the screen representing the South East and then to stand on the stage looking out at the 750 seat auditorium that would be filled with audience for the closing of the festival was like a dream, we felt incredibly privileged to be given the experience. Finally 'Overground’ took to the stage to perform their piece 'Wired' and they danced their hearts out!


Of Land and Tongue by Zoe Manders

Tuesday, 24 June 2014 12:48

I know I’ve been affected by a piece of work when I’m still thinking about it the next morning. This doesn’t happen often so I decided that, rather than just thinking about it, I’d write something down.

Theo Clinkard’s Of Land and Tongue physicalizes experiences for which we do not possess the words; words which exist in other languages but that can’t be translated directly into English. When words are not enough we naturally turn to the body to attempt to clarify a notion or a feeling. Movement and gesture can often evoke sensation more vividly than spoken language and so Theo’s work is a celebration of the language of the body, the language of dance.



The piece, articulated by five exquisite dancers, is set with the audience sat along two sides of a square space. The only thing that separates us is the boundary between the black carpet and the white dance floor – but this, it transpires, is porous. We are invited to experience the meanings of various words from languages foreign to many of us; GURFA (Arabic) the amount of water that can be scooped up in one hand, KOMOREBI (Japanese) sunlight that filters through the leaves of trees, WALDEINSAMKEIT (German) the feeling of being alone in the woods. They use simple tools to elucidate meaning: grass, a fan, water, light, paper and string, as well as movement, which swings from gestural to abstract, delicate to brash, clear to complex. It is surprising and it is delightful.

The soundscape created, and manipulated live by James Keane, is equally undulating and enchanting – it too takes you on a journey to a fitting and surprisingly moving ending.

The physical context of the piece, on this occasion the Old Market on Circus Street in Brighton, added a sense of vastness to the work, which made the intimacy even more pronounced. The sunlight streaming through the missing roof panels along with the squabbling and squalling of seagulls outside gave the work a sense of presence. Here we are now, experiencing this together, in this very precise moment.


There are many words I could use to describe the work – evocative, gentle, charming, hilarious, spacious, slight, beautiful – but I think the goosebumps it gave me describe it better than any word I could possibly lay my hands on.



Images © Zoe Manders.


This month on twitter, May 2014: Brighton Festival special – by Benji Anker

Friday, 30 May 2014 08:58

May has been a busy month at South East Dance. We partnered with Brighton Festival (England's biggest curated mixed arts festival) to present the dance programme this year. The festival kicked off with the preview of the William Forsythe installation Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time No. 2 at Circus Street Market.

@CircusStreetBTN (the site destined to become The Dance Space) came alive for the duration of the Festival with a moving maze of swinging pendulems. The installation was experienced by over 10,000 people and proved itself to be a popular attraction to visitors and Brightonians alike…

Just a short stroll from Circus street was On Balance - an exhibition bringing together two works by Swedish (serial stripey t-shirt wearing) artist Jacob Dahlgren at Fabrica.

The exhibition was host also to choreographer Charles Linehan and dancers on a few occasions throughout the Festival, where the immersive performances saw dancers move amongst the audience members.

What a great response on the twitter feed from commuters lucky enough to stumble upon Three Score Dance Company’s flash mob style performance of Plans at Brighton station. Here is just a small selection of the mentions from the weekend.

The diverse range of dance on offer at this year’s Brighton Festival came to an end with Opening Night from Les Slovaks, closing what has been an incredible and inspiring few weeks.

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.


Breakin' Convention by Conrad Westmaas

Wednesday, 28 May 2014 10:26

Breakin' Convention is inspiring, skillful, poetic, muscular, vibrant, funny, raw - and one of the most truly breathtaking, jawdropping dance shows you'll ever see. This is important, exciting work that transcends age, class, gender, ability and culture. Book now and take your friends and family with you - DO NOT MISS THIS!


Image by Rowena Price


In Good Company by Natalie Kane

Tuesday, 27 May 2014 10:04

Having the opportunity to see new work in production, especially from dancers in Hofesh Schecter's acclaimed company, is exciting, and this particular showcase didn't disappoint. Stories of authorship and creation, birth and rebirth, and love and destruction, filled The Old Market stage.

Sita Ostheimer’s Dissimilar Foxes, performed by Attila Ronai and Merel Lammers, opened the showcase, and was a hazy meditation on the moment when a person finally meets what they were running after, or from. Alone, each dancers’ movements were hard, electric and aggressive, but when they collided, a fluidity ran between them that was breathtaking, however brief. It was a love story, spread from beginning to somewhere near the end, punctuated by the places they had met. How it ends for these protagonists was uncertain, but there is beauty in this ambiguity; we are left with them staring into each other, not quite touching, no further than a breath away. A particular piece of floor work performed by Ronai particularly impressed me. It was the epitome of a sleepless night - restless, contorted, a man swallowed by desire. The soundtrack was provided by a live performance from Ostheimer and composer Adrien Casalis, and was an excellent accompaniment. In the fluctuating light, it set a remarkably intimate atmosphere for the work.

How we reconcile the person we were before with the person we are now is almost entirely an internal struggle. To see an individual throw this process out into the open can be uncomfortable and untranslatable, as it is an experience we can never, fully, understand. Maeva Berthelot’s Doppel is a stunning piece of work, a film made in collaboration with designer Leila Ziu, which is arguably autobiographical. Wandering through primeval, woodland landscapes, Berthelot privately explores a fractured, compromised identity in unnatural, interrupted movements. Slowly, and with a subtle use of reverse filming, Bertheholt is bound by found materials, physically restricted and enveloped in heavy fabrics. She emerges into the busy streets of Mexico, where she strikes off the weight that constricts her, still making sense of her surroundings in small, quick convulsions.

What If Dog Was One Of Us, by Frederic Despierre, was one of the stranger pieces of the night. Onto a bare stage walks a dancer, Diogo Sousa, microphone in hand, who starts talking to the audience about the nature of artistic creation, trust and collaboration. Halfway through this monologue the microphone drops from his hand and the voice of the choreographer continues. We have been duped, though not as much as Diogo, who is at the whim of an apparently omnipotent choreographer-god, booming instructions overhead. Only there is another voice present. Chris Evans, the writer of the monologue, suddenly takes over from Despierre, and marks himself as Diogo’s controller. Accompanying the narrative Diogo falls, twists, and turns under the manipulative hand of the voices overhead. A work that looked for the tensions in collaboration, Despierre asked us to find where control in creativity really lies, and if it exists at all.

Sam Coren’s Gully was the piece that challenged me the most, which I think might be more about my own taste rather than any comment not the calibre of the work. Set against a rural background, a tent surrounded by cooking pots and pans was surrounded by dancers, who walked from place to place, occasionally touching. Every so often a cue would play, a tune that reminded me of the pomp and circumstance of British Imperialism, which caused the dancers to jerk almost involuntarily to the music. Then the lights went out, and from the tent each dancer pulled out a glowing balloon, which was paraded across the stage, before being returned as the lights came up. A final baptism took place with one dancer’s balloon, popped under the watchful eyes of the other performers. Maybe I missed something, but this to me felt like an idea that had become so abstracted that the power that could have been present was diluted.

On a half-lit stage, two women, awaking after a hundred years, performed the power of their bodies to each other, subverting notions of femininity by breaking it down to a base, raw level. The movement was sudden but fluid, graceful but strong, and in the almost dying light the intensity of the performers completely occupied the room. Skinship, by Kim Kohlmann was an incredibly visceral, raw performance that left me physically breathless. At one moment, the music fell and we were left listening to the sound of their movement, the thud of their feet on the stage, the thick breath emanating from their chests as they fought, at first with each other, then with some omnipresent force that lay somewhere off stage. The lights fell, and when it was resurrected, one dancer remained. This final, solo dance, although strong, had a certain, deliberate tiredness to it, a woman swimming upstream, fighting a last battle, until there was no energy to fight anymore. This was my favourite piece of the night, with beautiful aesthetics and costume design by Sam Wood.

The final act belonged to Bruno Guillore’s Pandemonium. Another stunning piece that used the full physicality of the two dancers, a story was told of a man and woman from the beginning of time. A time when man and beast were one, or at least closer than now. The couple crawled and prowled, nipping at each other like dogs, before throwing themselves together unceremoniously. Unafraid of the noise of humanity, Hannah Sheperd’s barbaric yawp rang across the auditorium as she gave birth, falling as a moment of tenderness between the performers saw their bodies fold into a subtle equilibrium. I was most impressed by how far the dancers were pushed in this particular piece, like Kohlmann’s work, it left me physically winded.


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