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

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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.

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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.

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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!!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

 

Running on Empty by Kimberley Rumary

Tuesday, 13 May 2014 09:21

Running on Empty is a tantalizing performance that awakens the senses to themes of love, loss and longing. The blend of dance, text and song is united as a voice in taking the audience on a journey. The live musician Scott Smith, interacts with the dancers in playfully initiating harmonious melodies and rhythms to provoke movement, where questions are spoken to arouse thought for the viewer, never a ceasing moment for your mind to rest.

The song writer Lee Ross has written beautiful captivating songs. Antonia Grove holds a vulnerable tone that fills the space, inviting the audience into the depths of the emptiness she is experiencing. The words echo the disturbing struggles for her future through the present moment of grief of the passing of her beloved.

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The story telling of a woman dreaming of her man, revisiting memories, reclaiming the moments of the past, savouring the times in the space, gives the viewer a window into the lives of lovers in love, encountering adventure, passion and conflict. Antonia Grove and Greig Cooke give a compelling performance, providing the onlookers tangible images that connect with joy in reliving with the ones who are gone but not forgotten.

RUNNING ON EMPTY is…
Wistfully wondering… moments of a haunting voice filling the space with words that reminisced of times lost, of wanting, hoping, dreaming.
The sadness of loss of things that will never be again, the finality of loss the fragility of life.

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Images by Benji Anker

 

Boxe Boxe by Ruben Traynor, aged 15 years, Hove Park School

Friday, 02 May 2014 09:47

Contemporary dance is something I know nothing about, this bracket also includes boxing: as I was taken to watch a show combining these two things, I found myself cautiously excited at what could be in store. That show was Boxe Boxe, choreographed and directed by Mourad Merzouki and performed by the French dance company Compagnie Käfig.



Video by Dance Consortium

The first thing I noticed was the wide range of age groups at the performance including a large number of young kids. This could have been down to the fact that it was a matinee show in the Easter holidays - or perhaps to do with the intriguing subject of the show. The lights dimmed and suddenly music started playing. The live score was incredible throughout the performance. From Schubert to Glenn Miller, the score was brilliantly played by the onstage string quartet and expertly fitted into the whole performance. The four musicians weren’t just there to play their instruments either; they were integral to the main piece and were a vital part of the show.

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Image by Hugo Glendinning

Contemporary dance is often accused of being exclusive, inaccessible to most of us due to complex storytelling techniques. Therefore I went in expecting something deeper than people dancing, all be it brilliantly, but as there was no obvious narrative (unless I completely missed it) this isn’t what I got. There were a number of characters who were boxers but it was unclear whether they were villains or heroes so they came across as just people fighting. The fighting/dancing was probably the strongest part of the show and was absolutely stunning at times. The way the dancers moved, from incredible individual movements to immense group work, was amazingly detailed and precise. This is down to fantastic choreography by Merzouki as well as the technique and skill of the dancers themselves - it must have taken a very long time to perfect.

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Image by Michel Calalea

Boxe Boxe was definitely a spectacle and completely took my breath away at times. However, as it relied on the brilliant dancers and musicians to carry the performance, overall it didn’t quite hang together for me. I am sure others might feel differently. 

 

This month on twitter, April 2014 – by Benji Anker

Thursday, 01 May 2014 12:09

On the 15-17 of April we had the pleasure of welcoming Urban Playground to the Circus Street Market site (the future home of The Dance Space) to host three workshops with the local community followed by two performances of their performance parkour show Inner City. The feedback from the workshops and performances were great.




The two performances welcomed audiences from the local area and beyond and the audience really enjoyed seeing the formally abandoned market being transformed into an ‘Urban Playground’ within the heart of Brighton. Thanks @UschiNoMichi, @bellatodd1 and @LegacyFilmUK for the great feedback.



This month #Dance has been a regular theme on twitter’s trending list. We asked you what dance meant to you and there were some lovely responses; here are a couple of retweets from @kimberleyrumary and former South East Dance team member @lucinapleton.




On 27 April we had our Charles Linehan workshop at Fabrica Gallery. Thanks to @Article19 for the shout out, and we are more than pleased that Lucy had more than a pleasant time @Stopgapdance!





This month on twitter is a new monthly blog by South East Dance. Follow us on twitter and let us know your thoughts.

 

Bollywood fun at Brighton Oasis Project – by Rowena Price

Wednesday, 30 April 2014 11:01

On 15 April I popped down the road from our Brighton office to visit Brighton Oasis Project's final Bollywood dance class before the spring break, taught by local teacher Charlotte Jalley and organised by South East Dance. The participants Anneka, Gemma, Bex, Shelley and Louise had a fantastic time and it was a joy to watch. We're really pleased that we're going to continue our relationship with Brighton Oasis Project by providing more dance classes there in the coming months. In the meantime, take a look at a few of the pictures I managed to take to see them in action!

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Images by Rowena Price

 

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