Sunday, 22 November 2015

REVIEW: Sasha Waltz & Guests 'Sacre' - 'a storm of fog, grit and earthy tones'

Sasha Waltz & Guests
Sadler's Wells
Friday 13th November 2015

Sasha Waltz is one of Germany's most current choreographers. Experimenting with the boundary between dance and opera, it comes as no surprise that Waltz has taken on Stravinsky's masterpiece in this triple bill. Interestingly, gender seems to be a common theme that threads through L'Après Midi d'un Faune, Scène d'Amour, and Sacre. Men and women are both divided and united throughout the works.

L'Après Midi d'un Faune is a surprisingly colourful affair, with bright patterned leotards and backdrop. The tone is lazy and seductive- heads roll back, lips part, knees are pushed apart and backs arch as Debussy's score rises and falls. Both men and women are just as responsible for one another's pleasure. Yet, aside from the sensuality of the work, the choreography seems somewhat aimless.

Scène d'Amour, an excerpt from Waltz's Roméo et Juliette is exquisite. Both Lorena Justribó Manion and Ygal Tsur defy gravity even when rolling on the floor together. The mood is light and romantic- the couple are blissful. Manion moves effortlessly, darting about the space and slipping seamlessly between Tsur's acrobatic lifts and Waltz's phrases of unison.

Finally, the grand finale of the evening does not disappoint. Sacre is a storm of fog, grit and earthy tones. The stage opens eerily, smoke filled and dark. A large crowd gathers, staring at an enormous pile of ash and gravel at the centre of the stage. Waltz constructs something almost hellish. The dancers are violent and primal, driven by Stravinsky's pounding score. The limp bodies of women litter the stage, as the men charge through, again highlighting the boundaries between genders.

In fact, Waltz toys with gender role reversal- a woman lurches forward, clasping her hands around the struggling body of a man. Will he become the sacrifice? But Waltz only flirts with the idea, before plunging the dancers into a throbbing sultry mass. Clothes are torn away from bodies, skin rubs against skin, and suddenly the dancers’ breathlessness turns to lust.

Finally, as Stravinsky's score intensifies, Sacre begins to reach its final climax. Maria Marta Colusi strips naked for Waltz's conclusion, her muscular body shudders with exhaustion. While all three works are striking, Waltz's exposition of sex and death in Sacre is truly stunning.


Monday, 12 October 2015

UPDATED REVIEW: BalletBoyz - Young Men Review: clichéd, shallow, but beautiful

BalletBoyz The TALENT – Young Men 
Sadler’s Wells 
Thursday 8th October 2015

At first glance, choreographer Iván Peréz’s response to the World War One centenary, Young Men is an emotionally charged, dazzling tale of war and friendship. Yet beneath the stories of love and survival, Young Men only glances fleetingly at the unpalatable truths of war.

The opening is heartfelt; a woman wafts about the stage like an autumn leaf, faltering and falling into sumptuous deep lunges. The dancers’ bodies are sinuous in the strings of explosive jumps and whirling arms. The men dive, kick, crawl and roll with the organisation of an army. Peréz drives his dancers in uninterrupted unison, building power, before spilling in waves that peel across the stage. 

However, it is Peréz’s romance with war and death that causes issue. Young Men touches on PTSD in the ‘Shell Shock’ passage, which sees white-faced Andrea Carrucciu naked but for a pair of black shorts. But with Keaton Henson’s overwhelming score of sirens and thundering cello, we not only feel uncomfortable watching Carrucciu’s awkward contortions, but also at the brevity of the exploration. 

While glossy images of freefalling soldiers, with dancers lying face down, arms and legs suspended in the air are aesthetically pleasing, they don’t confront the gritty horror, or the callous sacrifice of a generation of young men. Repetitive tender cradlings distort the senseless loss and mental illness, whilst cliché scenes of dancers torn apart are comforting in their familiarity.

Despite the beauty of the Balletboyz and their commitment to the choreography, Peréz fails to discuss the causes of this tragedy. Clichéd motifs and shallow investigation re-establish an idealised memory of war. Young Men allows us to forget the experience of the generation who died pointlessly under the command of the wealthy elites. 




Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Why is dance writing important?

Unlike other art forms, such as painting, sculpture, or literature; dance is a fleeting, ephemeral form of art. Dance can not exist outside of the time and space it was performed in. Painting, like sculpture and indeed literature, becomes a physical object that can be touched, relocated and preserved indefinitely. Yet, dance no longer exists in any form outside of the few minutes that it is performed.

Dance writers have the ability to resurrect images of dance movement, as well as reawaken emotions evoked through dance. Given its ephemeral nature, the images, emotions and meanings created through dance are completely lost after the performance has ended. So, the dance writer is given the power to resurrect, physically record and preserve these often intangible facets of dance. 

Therefore, preserving the many interpretations and meanings found in dance- not to mention their historical, cultural and political significance- is of the utmost important to dance writers. 

Additionally, dance writers have the responsibility to write honestly and boldly. What is 'good' dance? And who decides what makes good dance? Other than word-of-mouth, the dance writer is responsible for creating excitement, criticism, recommendation and simply analysing dances. Spectators use dance reviews to decide what performances to watch, and equally which not to watch. In addition, dance artists may also depend on the opinions of dance writers for the success of their performances and tours. 

So why is dance writing important? Dance writing has the invaluable ability to breathe life into the lost images and sentiments that are created in performance. But above all, dance writers hold the key to preserving, or even 'immortalising', an art form that would otherwise be lost.


Thursday, 27 August 2015

Dance Film Festival UK 2015 brings another prominent installation of ‘visual beauty’

Dance Film Festival UK provides a much-needed opportunity for dance film artists to engage with new audiences, access professional development opportunities, and to network with other artists. With a complete focus on screendance, Dance Film Festival UK allows artists and spectators alike to immerse in dance film.

The festival day opened with Katie Johnston’s flipbook animation workshop. Specially tailored for dance artists, the workshop explored techniques to capture dance movement in drawing. Meanwhile, throughout the day the audience were invited to leave the buzz of the festival and enter Private Cinema Installations. Behind the velvety red curtains of the cinema booths, the viewer found an eclectic collection of short dance films.

The main festival screenings presented a diverse selection of documentaries. The films documented mature dance company Three Score’s performance at Brighton Rail Station; an exchange of dance between children in Hackney and New Orleans; a moving tale between a Mexican and a Taiwanese dancer; and the dedication and devotion of three prominent Hip Hop dancers. While the emphasis was still on dance, the documentaries provided a revealing insight into the lives and struggles of the artists.

The following three programmes proved to be an extremely vibrant mix of dance films. While some films experimented purely with the relationship between movement and camera, others, like Antoine Marc & Drew Cox’s Descent and Shireen Talhouni & Ali Al-Saadi’s Sarmad, provided moments of stunning visual beauty. Other dance films dealt honestly with issues of womanhood, disability, sexual empowerment, control and cultural tradition. Overall, a hugely exciting and international mixture of dance films.

The festival day closed with commissioned dance works from innovative London based Protocol Dance Company, and unique video and animation team Garrett and Garrett Videography. Lastly, an on-the-day collaboration and screening of work by Mina Aidoo and Brian Gillespie revealed just how accessible dance film can be.

As well as making screendance highly accessible to viewers, Dance Film Festival UK fosters curiosity and inquisitiveness. The festival truly is an invaluable platform to inspire, engage and most importantly, excite artists about dance film.


Wednesday, 19 August 2015

DFFUK: REVIEW: Living With Sin


Living With Sin – Lizzie J Klotz & Lucia Schweigert
Dance Film Festival UK
O2 Think Big Hub
Saturday 8th August 2015

Living With Sin appears at first as an intimate encounter; the camera focuses intrusively on a woman’s skin, her hair, her shoulders, her face; revealing dustings of gold glitter. But as the work progresses, Lizzie J Klotz and Lucia Schweigert’s discussion of the Christian doctrine of original sin becomes clear.

Dancer Jonna Tideman’s crimson jumper layered over a red dress is striking in front of a bleak stone landscape. The colours seem to connote anger, frustration, guilt, despair, and above all, sin. All of which are easy to identify. Quick, flashing images of Tideman’s face, twisted with pain, fractures the scene- as she sits seemingly serene on stone steps.

Later, Tideman is seen dancing in long black robes, again filmed against a stark concrete landscape. She is positioned off-centre, often disappearing out of the frame all together. In fact, the colours, unconventional positioning and the disjointed sound of mbira cycles (African thumb piano) all seem to hint at the fragmentation of womanhood.

Indeed, the simultaneously introspective and frantic tone of Klotz and Schweigert’s work unites all experiences in one woman.


Thursday, 13 August 2015

DFFUK: REVIEW: Vice Versa, an exchange of dance, through the eyes of children

Vice Versa – Hattie Worboys
Dance Film Festival UK
O2 Think Big Hub
Saturday 8th August

Director, Hattie Worboy’s Vice Versa is an exciting exchange of dance, culture and heritage across the Atlantic between two groups of children- one from New Orleans and one from Hackney. The film displays a colourful comparison of life through the sincere eyes of children, who all have one thing in common- dancing.

While New Orleans appears vibrant, with the bright colours of carnival and warm sun, Hackney appears grey, fast-paced and distinctly urban. London music producer Miles Romans Hopcroft’s (aka WU LU) choice of UK Garage, House and Dubstep reflects the familiar images of concrete and rain.

Contrastingly, the Dixieland Jazz sounds of carnival reveal New Orleans’s rich street dance culture. The bright sunshine, vibrant colour and cheerful sound of trombones and trumpets create a stark contrast to Worboy’s representation of Hackney. The children shuffle, shake and jump in matching outfits in their respective towns.

While there are big differences in the mood and tone of the two cities, and in the children’s dance styles, both groups explore their identities through the freedom of expression. Finally, it seems that while the children are thousands of miles apart, the vitality and energy of their dances crosses the physical and emotional distance between them.



DFFUK: REVIEW: Descent: The Essence of Life and Death


Descent – Drew Cox & Antoine Marc
Dance Film Festival UK
O2 Think Big Hub
Saturday 8th August 2015

Thick honey oozes from a man’s mouth, as he begins his gradual descent from life to death. Directors, Drew Cox and Antoine Marc explore themes of terminal illness and family support, which eases the torment of illness.  Overall, Descent is a dazzling work of both choreography and screendance.

Filmed in the iconic room of the feature film The King’s Speech (2010), Cox and Marc’s images are visually stunning. Descent is washed with shades of mustard and teal, which peal off the walls behind the dancers. The thick honey, seeping from the man’s mouth, seems to symbolise the loss of life, but also reveals the essence of life.

Moreover, shot in slow motion, the film captures the dancers in powerful, gravity-defying moments. They propel themselves into the air, displaying their rippling muscles and profound strength. Three men leap, cartwheeling their legs over their heads. Meanwhile a woman performs a moving solo, consuming the space, as she lunges, ripples and then hurls herself through the music.

Sumptuous floorwork and rich shifts of weight are as indulgent as the honey that continues to ooze from the man’s lips. With an emphasis on power and beauty, Marc’s choreography appears at once delicious and compelling.




Wednesday, 1 July 2015

REVIEW: Akram Khan & Israel Galván's TOROBAKA

Torobaka - Akram Khan & Israel Galván
Sadler's Wells
Tuesday 30th June 2015 

Using their respective backgrounds in Kathak and Flamenco dance, Akram Khan and Israel Galván come head-to-head (quite literally) in the return of Torobaka at Sadler's Wells. Torobaka, meaning "bull cow", is the coming together of two animals that are sacred to the dancers' two nations. Fundamentally, Torobaka is the coming together of two dance styles.

The work begins with Khan and Galván sitting on the edge of a large, deep pink circle, which acts as a sort of bullring for their duelling and wrestling. Khan whirls, throwing his arms above his head with the same luxurious quality as ever. Seville-born Galván moves with power and electricity, stamping his heels and cutting through the space with a perfectly poised torso.

The men take turns taking the stage, demonstrating the similarities between Kathak and Flamenco- complex rhythms, ferocious passion, and rapid stamping footwork. In fact, Galván's feet move so fast, they seem evocative of the fluttering wings of a hummingbird. Contrastingly, Khan's lines and movements are softened into recognisable South Asian curves.

Interestingly, the three musicians are almost equally as involved as the dancers. Two vocalists perform eclectic Andulsian folk songs and a man sits at the back playing the tabla (drum) and the sitar (stringed instrument). Despite the beauty and talent of the music, the excessive eclecticism begins to feel repetitive.

While Torobaka presents some exceptional talent and technique, both in the dancers and musicians, it does feel incomplete. It is definitely worth watching Khan and Galván tumble around each other, but it might be wise to approach it as a draft of that could evolve into something even more exciting.

Friday, 22 May 2015

REVIEW: FOOTPRINT DANCE FESTIVAL: Overlooking Looking in Courtney Draddy's 'Ma'

Barefoot
Footprint Dance Festival
Lulham Studio
University of Roehampton
Thursday 14th May 2015

Undergraduate BA Dance Studies student Courtney Draddy presented her dissertation choreography, Ma on Footprint Dance Festival's Thursday night Barefoot performances. Ma, meaning the space between two structures of compositional elements in Japanese, explores the nature of seeing and experiencing. Interestingly, what is seen by the dancers and what the audience chooses to see are just as important as each other. Draddy creates a work that questions both how and what the audience sees.

Draddy creates a stark white landscape, reminiscent of the Japanese dance form of Butoh. The three dancers are painted white: their arms, legs, feet, hands, necks and faces streaked with white paint. Only their eyes are revealed. In addition, the dancers are dressed simply, wearing plain white vest tops and loose fitting, sheer white skirts. The lack of colour seems to strip the dancers of identity or individuality, creating a 'blank canvas' for Draddy. Yet, amongst the bleakness of the setting, a large circle on the floor is created using red string, creating a harsh contrast to the white landscape.

As well as connecting through the movement, the dancers appear to use eye contact to sustain connection. They sit and watch one another, catch each other's eyes, inspect each other's bodies, while scrutinising their own limbs. This intense 'looking' consumes Ma, captivating the audience and drawing them in from the outset.

The dancers move slowly and deliberately, calculating each movement with precision. The dancers move slowly with a sense of regality, before sudden bursts of energy shift the trio more frantically. Flexed feet and angular arm lines, with sustained transfers of weight exemplify Draddy's careful construction of the work. Additionally, delicious contact work sees the dancers connecting using their heads, backs, arms and necks as they carefully slide, lean and roll across one another. The organic quality of the movement reflects Draddy's deep and profound choreographic research. Ma is not a lighthearted or breezy work of dance.

As the work draws to a close, dancer Emily Robinson slowly picks up the red string, wrapping it carefully around her arm. The crimson string against her white skin is a striking reminder of Draddy's construction (or indeed, deconstruction) of landscape and identity. Ma demands that the audience stop and fully experience Draddy's internal and intense world of movement, without watching passively. Draddy comments on the everyday-habit of looking, but failing to see.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

REVIEW: FOOTPRINT DANCE FESTIVAL: Shaun Dillon - Hiraeth

Dance Worldwide
Footprint Dance Festival
Michaelis Theatre
University of Roehampton
Tuesday 12th May 2015

Opening Tuesday's evening of Dance Worldwide at Michaelis Theatre was Roehampton alumni Shaun Dillon's moving solo Hiraeth. Exploring themes of homesickness, grief, nostalgia and aggression, Hiraeth is a brutally honest examination of Dillon's childhood.

The stage begins dark, with Dillon sitting cross legged in silence. Glinting behind him, shattered plates are strewed roughly in a semi-circle centre-stage right. A large black duffel bag lies in the shadow downstage right- literally, personal baggage. Dillon performs a series of gestures, slowly pointing to the sky and then to his heart, opening his hands, bring his hand to a salute, and finally thumping his chest with an increasing sense of aggression.

The tone of the work intensifies as the sound of children's whispers fills the auditorium. Dillon sifts through the shattered plates, as if looking for some kid of meaning or explanation. Composer Jonny Colgan's music score escalates as Dillon turns to face his shadow on the cyc. He thrashes, punches, kicks and paces, sweeping his arms in rage, as if arguing with his shadow.

The music quietens, leaving Dillon standing under a spot light, staring thoughtfully into the audience. A prerecorded speech reveals the dark story of his 13th birthday. He describes a vehement argument between his parents, only to be interrupted by a deafening scream. It is at this point that it becomes undoubtedly clear that Hiraeth is a stark insight into Dillon's childhood.

Suddenly, the clatter of broken china is heard as Dillon stumbles trying to reassemble the broken plates. The desperation and urgency in Dillon's actions appear child-like, yet also seem to have a certain familiarity as if he has tried desperately to grapple with these feelings for years.

Finally, Dillon collects his black duffel bag from the front of the stage. Flinging the weight of the bag over his shoulder, Dillon walks slowly offstage, with a hopeful look of belief across his face.

REVIEW: FOOTPRINT DANCE FESTIVAL: Feet Off The Ground Dance's 'Passenger'


Barefoot
Footprint Dance Festival
Michaelis Theatre
University of Roehampton
Thursday 14th May 2015


Ending Footprint Dance Festival’s Barefoot performances was a dazzling performance by Feet Off The Ground Dance. Having graduated from London Contemporary Dance School in 2013, the collective use their training in Contact Improvisation extensively in choreography. Passenger uses Contact Improvisation to explore notions of femininity and strength.

Assisted by a live musician onstage, four women seize the space, lunging, running, rolling and falling. The dancers support one another using juicy transfers of weight and making unpredictable changes of direction. Syrupy floorwork seamlessly shifts the women's weight from back, to shins, to hands as they slip across the space. Live music played by Ashley Molloy-South sets a strong sense of rhythm and pace, establishing the high energy of the work from the outset.

The dancers physically manipulate and alter one another’s movements, direction and speed, demonstrating the power of the individual and of the group. Catching dancer Sophie Thorpe, as she suspends and falls back, the group take her weight, drag her to the other side of the space and carefully lay her down. Passenger seems to be a manifestation of the coexistence of strength and support that exists within the relationships between women. While there are obvious moments of manipulation and control, there are also instances of group support that seem to thread throughout the work.

Effortless and athletic jumps, lifts and transfers of weight reveal the dancers’ first class training from London Contemporary Dance School. However, it is the dancers’ complete conviction and belief in the choreography that captures and draws the audience in from the moment it begins.


Sunday, 17 May 2015

FOOTPRINT DANCE FESTIVAL: Thursday's Events

An extremely rainy and chilly day at Footprint Dance Festival yesterday. Alice King's Pilates session began the day at 10 am in Monte Hall, followed by a Centre for  Dance Research Seminar on Romanian Sword Dancing in Lulham at lunch time.

A brief pop-up dance performance, Imprint, choreographed by BA Dance third year students Eszter Szalma and Maya Pindar was performed to an intimate audience in Digby Chapel at 13:30.

Barefoot's evening of performances began with beautiful dissertation choreography by BA Dance third year student Courtney Draddy in Lulham studio. The Footprint Team led the audience round campus to the Student Union, where Shelley Owen presented the charming Are We Dancing?
Next, in Davies Studio, Maëva Lamolière performed Momentum, inspired by the sculptures of French artist Camille Claudel. In Michaelis Studio, Megan Curet presented her exploration of the Israel/Palestine conflict in The Undoing.

Ending in Michaelis Theatre, Eleni Papaioannou presented So What?, a seemingly improvised, surprising and delightful comment on the contemporary world. Finally, the evening closed with choreography by Feet Off The Ground Dance. Using Contact Improvisation, Tracing Spaces investigates the strength within femininity.

Another wonderful, if not drizzly day at University of Roehampton, and another excellent range of performances by students and guest artists at Footprint Dance Festival.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

REVIEW: FOOTPRINT DANCE FESTIVAL: Alicia Kidman's 'Omni Commeo'

Dance Worldwide
Footprint Dance Festival
Michaelis Theatre
University of Roehampton
Tuesday 12th May 2015


University of Roehampton alumni Alicia Kidman presented Omni Commeo at Footprint Dance Festival's second night of evening performances. Having recently graduated from University of Roehampton, Kidman has been teaching dance in London and Austria, as well as performing and presenting choreography in London, Birmingham and Italy with Martin Prosse and Cie. Willi Dorner.

Interestingly, as well as having shown an interest in phonology and phonetics (the study of sounds) through teaching English, both Kidman's parents are English teachers by trade. Perhaps this familial interest in language and sound inspired Kidman's quirky insight into language and communication.

Omni Commeo opens with a large paper bound Cambridge dictionary under a bright spot light. The lights dim and come back up to reveal dancer Emilie Barton standing on top of the dictionary, dressed in mismatching, clashing patterned tights, skirt and layered t-shirts. On the opposite side, sits dancer Sophie Stokes, also dressed eccentrically in bright golfing socks, grey leggings and bright layered shirts.

Barton begins in silence, furiously trying to speak. She crinkles her nose and furrows her brows as she concentrates on making sounds. She experiments with language using different sounds and tones, allowing her facial expressions to affect the sounds she produces. Later, Barton and Stokes are seen interacting together, using extremely intricate and complex hand gestures. They seem to construct, deconstruct, test, grab and argue over inanimate objects. Barton and Stokes are hugely animated, setting a playful tone that persists throughout the work.

All of a sudden, the dictionary becomes the focus of Barton's attention. After breaking free from Stoke's hold, Barton begins reading the dictionary. However, with their bare feet flicking the pages, it appears that the duo read the words using their feet. Another interesting and surprising detail that Kidman carefully uses to enhance her choreography.

The strength of the work likes in Barton's and Stoke's complete conviction in the vision of the work. There is not a single moment where either dancer questions their actions (or indeed their sounds). Kidman creates an exceptionally clever work that both draws the audience in from the outset and amuses.

The work ends with both dancers sitting upstage right at the back of the stage. After a brief fracas, Stokes tears a page out of the dictionary and thrusts it into her mouth. Barton watches her with an expression of astonishment, as Stokes opens her mouth, letting the chewed up ball of paper hit the floor.

Maya Pindar

FOOTPRINT DANCE FESTIVAL: So What Happened on Wednesday?

Hump Day kicked off with an intense Pilates class led by Alice King in Monte Hall at 10am, with a great student turn out! Later, contemporary dance artist Shelley Owen led an exciting open improvisation workshop in Michaelis Studio. Again, another fantastic class with a great student turn out!

In the afternoon, a series of short dance films was shown in the RSU Bar. Student films included Ben Witcomb's exploration of the body; Hari Crook's interesting insight into the comparisons of fruit and veg with the body; and Sophie Cooper's exploration of hair. Professional dance films included work from Mami Kawabata, Ceyda Tanc's distinctive ReRosas and Harry Koushos' Weavers. The dance films were followed by a screening of the 80s dance classic Footloose (1984).

After a busy day, the evening's RAM performances kicked off at 7pm with Samantha Pardes' Asparas, Stephanie Peña's THE URGENCY OF letting, Dorit Schwartz's Cut The Cord and finally, Jana Prager's Little Broken Boxes. Peña's dancers' made an exceptional effort to keep dancing, despite the wrong score being played. Nevertheless it was wonderful to see such outstanding performances by both dancers and musicians. Special guests at the performance included Dame Jacqueline Wilson, who was extremely delighted by the performances.

Following the evening's performances was Footprint's 80s themed Fez night in Putney. The 80s themed photo competition with the Footprint mascot in Fez was a real success- the winner will be announced by the end of the week!

REVIEW: FOOTPRINT DANCE FESTIVAL: Eden Wiseman's 'The Manipulative Mind'

Dance Worldwide
Footprint Dance Festival
Michaelis Theatre
University of Roehampton
Tuesday 12th May 2015

Eden Wiseman's The Manipulative Mind opened the second half of Footprint's second night of performances. Coming from Israel, Wiseman has investigated the body interacting with raw materials greatly in recent years. The Manipulative Mind divulges into memory and experience, while exposing 'layers of humanness', through interaction with wire.

The stage is dark and bare, apart from a mysterious large dangling light bulb wrapped in silver wires. Wiseman lies on the floor, wearing a nude unitard and an intricately built wire bodice, which later becomes a kind of helmet and then later a backpack. Movement content includes a great deal of awkward self-touching: in fact to begin, Wiseman stands slowly, drawing her hands to her face, to forcefully pull her eyelids open. The tone is moody, focused and dark.

Spinning the wire covered lamp, Wiseman manages to transform the dark stage space into a new shadowy realm. She reluctantly wiggles off her wire bodice, revealing the upper half of her nude unitard, reminding us of her individual 'layers of humanness'. Wiseman gyrates, tremors and contracts, before sprawling on the floor. She pushes her face into her wire bodice, dragging her body towards the audience. The image of the wire wrapped around her head is evocative of a "busy mind", like a physical storm of thoughts. Or indeed, could be interpreted as a reference to the complex connections of neurons in our brain.

As Wiseman takes off the wire bodice, a French electro-pop track is introduced, consequently bringing about a change in movement style. She suddenly becomes more released and almost girly, as she shakes her now loose hair and bounces about the stage. The tone is now strikingly spirited, driven by the upbeat music. It is as if by discarding the wire bodice, she has revealed another very different layer of the human psyche- one of vitality and energy.

At last, she begins to peel away the final layer- her unitard. She carefully tugs at the sleeves and pulls the unitard down over her shoulder. As the lights dim, she turns away from the audience, wandering upstage. The vulnerability of her pale bare skin on her back is just noticeable as the stage darkens.

Overall, Wiseman gives an extremely unique performance. Her discussion of the human psyche, with references to thoughts and memories, as well as the physical structure of the brain is well devised. The use of wires, as cold and rigid objects create a clever juxtaposition of disconnection and connection all at once. Wiseman is definitely an artist to keep watching.




Wednesday, 13 May 2015

FOOTPRINT DANCE FESTIVAL: Tuesday!

The second day of Footprint Dance Festival began with Kimberley Collin's Dancefit class in Monte Hall. Next was an exciting Eastern Classical Dance Workshop with Sugata Das. Teaching Bharatanatyam, Das's workshop focused on learning eight basic 'steps' and several intricate hand gestures. Overall, a very revealing and enjoyable workshop, which allowed participants to engage with Gujarati and South Indian culture.

During the afternoon, dance specialist Gill Harvey led a Dance Careers Talk on Froebel lawn. Harvey gave outstanding advice on CVs, cover letters, dance auditions and portfolios to Roehampton dance students. Later, Kurt Nagy's fabulous and high energy Jazz Workshop kicked off the afternoon's events at 14:30 in Michaelis Studio.

The evening's Dance Worldwide performances saw moving work by Shaun Dillon, a memorable and highly physical performance by French dancer Jann Gallois. Coming from Israel, Eden Wiseman's The Manipulative Mind divulged into the human mind. Roehampton alumni Alicia Kidman's Omni Commeo was a lighthearted and fun exploration of human language, which helped round off the evening's performances.

Another fantastic day on campus for Footprint Dance Festival! Looking forward to seeing you all again during the rest of the week. Only three days left of the festival!! Get dancing!!!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

REVIEW: FOOTPRINT DANCE FESTIVAL: Crystal Zillwood's Évolutio

Stampede
Footprint Dance Festival
Michaelis Theatre
University of Roehampton
Monday 11th May 2015

After graduating from the Northern School of Contemporary Dance and touring the UK and Switzerland with postgraduate dance company Verve'13, Crystal Zillwood has developed her unique choreographic, improvisation and teaching techniques.

At University of Roehampton's Footprint Dance Festival opening performance night, Zillwood performed Évolutio, an exploration of human evolution. Set to Goran Bregovic's moving score, Zillwood begins standing in front of a bright floor light. References to primate movement is evident from the outset. Zillwood walks, poised, gradually slouching further into her hips, before inverting onto all fours.

She shifts around with ease, padding her hands and feet into the floor. The work begins slowly, Zillwood moves carefully and deliberately. She slips smoothly from being stood tall and poised, to suddenly breaking, becoming inverted and grounded. Overall, Zillwood stays well connected to the floor, her weight surrendered to gravity. She rolls, slides and twists across the space with a sense of indulgence. But most notably, Zillwood's strength is the fluidity and seamlessness of her movement phrases, which exude a quality of soft, melted butter.

Well observed gestural details, like scratching, wiping, grooming, cycling legs and brushing appear throughout Évolutio. Towards the conclusion of the work, Zillwood is seen rotating on the floor repeating a series of discernible gestures. She mimes cooking, playing archery, conducting music, before holding out her hands as finger guns. She rebounds, bouncing slightly, as her rotation seems to get stuck, with her hands held out rigidly. Suddenly, the child-like familiarity of the finger gun gesture becomes bittersweet, as if Zillwood alluding to the brutal and callous capacity of humans.

Overall, Évolutio is an exceptionally honest and frank exploration of human evolution and of human nature. Intensified by Zillwood's effortlessly unbroken movement quality, her communication of themes and ideas is admirable. Finally as the lights dim, Zillwood crawls back to end in the fetal position, reminding us that we are indeed "only human".

FOOTPRINT DANCE FESTIVAL: Opening Day!!!

Yesterday marked the first day of our wonderful Footprint Dance Festival! The opening day kicked off with an extremely successful turn out at our intense HIIT Bootcamp in Monte Hall with Kimberly Collins mid-morning. Following Bootcamp, we welcomed Shaun Dillon's outstanding Contemporary workshop at 12.30. Closing the afternoon, renowned British choreographer, performer and director, Rosemary Lee presented several of her dance films and led an uplifting choreography seminar to students and Dance Department faculty.

Concluding the day was our opening night of dance performance, Stampede. Artistic Director, Hannah Brown gave a speech giving thanks to volunteers and faculty, before inviting Rosemary Lee to speak. During an inspirational speech about the value of the arts, Lee urged 'not to put a pound sign in front of the arts' and that 'we would be poor without the arts'. 

Finally, the evening included extremely strong performances from Ceyda Tanc Dance, Crystal Zillwood and Alyssandra Katherine Wu, as well as a very amusing and humorous performance by Botis Seva. Other artists included: Loughlin Dance, Hannah K. Vincent, Moving Cities, and Peace. Positivity. Love.

Monday, 11 May 2015

FOOTPRINT DANCE FESTIVAL: Rosemary Lee Dance Film and Choreography Seminar

The first day of University of Roehampton's Footprint Dance Festival is under way! Closing the afternoon today, renowned British choreographer, director and performer Rosemary Lee led a Dance Film and Choreography Seminar.

After graduating from the Laban Centre, Rosemary Lee has created numerous site specific works and dance films, often working with installation. Lee's works are usually large scale, with performers' ages ranging from 6-80 years of age. Her choreography is often reflective of her interest in safeguarding the environment, as well as centring on a quality of taking care and listening to others.

Lee presented four of her dance films, spanning twenty years from 1995 to 2015. The oldest, Boy (1995), filmed off the coast of Norfolk, follows the imaginary world of a young boy. Sand dunes, long grass and bird song typify Lee's interest in natural materials and bird song.

Filmed in northern England, Greenman (1996), focusses on the isolation and dreams of a young man who longs for a 'greener' world. The man is seen burying his face in autumn leaves, rolling in coal and running across slag.

After some discussion, Lee presented Snow (2003), a thoughtfully constructed compilation of archival footage. Old images of Chicago snow storms, couples skating in England, images of war and Olympic skiing from the late 1800s to 1960s, were carefully organised to create a folk feel.

Finally, Lee presented her most recent dance film Liquid Gold is the Air (2015), which is currently premièring at Norwich Cathedral. The film is inspired by the 18th century poet John Clare, who was concerned with representations of the English countryside. Additionally, the work was also heavily inspired by Norwich Cathedral itself.

After each film, the audience were invited to ask questions to start discussions. Lee revealed a great interest in paganism, natural forms, and site specific work. Overall, a very inspiring and stimulating seminar.

Friday, 8 May 2015

REVIEW: Hannah Spain's 'Shift. And now I'm smaller'

Student Dance Platform
Michaelis Theatre
University of Roehampton
Sunday 3rd May 2015

Hannah Spain’s Shift. And now I’m smaller is a clever exploration of space and mass on stage. Set to Ultraista’s Gold Dayz (Maribou State Remix), the work is both hypnotic and relentless.

Spilling and melting into the space, Hannah Spain’s dancers already seem to embody the hypnotic music from the outset. Forming a long, tight line that seems to loosely resemble some kind of tentacle-encrusted insect, the dancers swing their arms and whirl their heads. Already, Spain is playing with the varying ways that space can be used and understood by both dancer and spectator.

Interestingly, Spain opts to emphasise the shadows of her dancers on the cyclorama, which adds another dimension to her choreography. The dancers exit to leave soloist Chelsea Croft to perform a short phrase of grounded turns, back bends and sustained suspensions. Yet, her two shadows, slipping and pushing across the cyclorama behind her, create the feeling that she is not alone on stage. They also serve to add a certain amount of strength and power, since they allow the audience to experience Croft’s movement from a different perspective and through a different lens.

Finally, with its expansive movement, quick changes of level and tight spatial formations, Spain’s choreography is brimming with relentless energy. Shift. And now I’m smaller appears like a canvas of bodies, which Spain carefully constructs and deconstructs in front of the audience. Ending cyclically, the dancers find themselves back in the long, tight line from the opening. As the lights dim, they begin to crumble and break away, slipping back offstage, as they did four minutes earlier.


REVIEW: Maisie Sadgrove's 'Lotus Eater'

Student Dance Platform
Michaelis Theatre
University of Roehampton
Sunday 3rd May 2015

Maisie Sadgrove’s bold choreography was executed with strength and power by her dancers’ full-bodied performance. Set to Mura Masa’s Japanese electronica, Lotus Eater was a dark monochrome world of self-assertion and power.

Although Lotus Eater is described as an exploration of purity within movement, inspired by the power of the lotus flower in Buddhist and Hindu beliefs, the references to Buddhism and Hinduism did not seem to emerge as prevalent ideas.

Nevertheless, themes of strength and power were clearly visible in Sadgrove’s wide stances, deep lunges and striking lines. Riddled with rippling torsos and long unfurling arms, Lotus Eater oozed with energy and weight. The choreography allowed the dancers to assume a sense of authority and assertion as they executed both delicate hand gestures and powerful, explosive movement.

Moreover, Sadgrove’s simple yet effective choreography clearly reflected the idea of purity. With little choreographic embellishments or over-exaggeration, Lotus Eater remained clean and ‘un-cluttered’, which added a sense of style and finesse to Sadgrove’s choreography.

Despite the power and strength of both Sadgrove’s choreography and of her dancers, Lotus Eater felt like unfinished business. The work seemed to finish abruptly, leaving the audience wanting more. Having said that, Lotus Eater has a great amount of potential to go further. With deeper exploration of the lotus imagery, and some refinement of the religious references, Lotus Eater could be a significantly robust and compelling work.


REVIEW: Jazz Andrew's 'Let Her Go'

Student Dance Platform
Michaelis Theatre
University of Roehampton
Sunday 3rd May 2015

Thrown into a shadowy realm of sunburnt silhouettes and sunsets, Jazz Andrew’s Let Her Go seems to sum up the pain and tenderness of young love. While Passenger’s folk-pop Underwater Bride reflects on keeping everything ‘locked into memory’, Andrew’s intricate gestural detail and ebbing momentum also appears like a tape of childhood memories.

Typically of Andrews, her carefully constructed formations reflect the elegant orchestration of her dancers’ bodies, as they roll, fall and twist. Their arms unfurl, thrashing and clutching at the air. All eight dancers move with precision and clear, calm intention- a manifestation of Andrews’ confidence in the themes and emotion behind her work.

Although Let Her Go uses a great deal of unison, moments of solo, canon and stillness create different stories for each dancer. Dancing alone in one corner of the stage, as others watch on, each individual seems nostalgic of a time before, as if longing for someone or something. Simultaneous acceptance and anguish also seems to be a theme that threads through Let Her Go.

Overall, Andrews’ Let Her Go is a moving piece of dance that especially reaches out to young adults. Andrews’ choreographic commitment to the imagery of Passenger’s lyrics further emphasises the themes of loss, pain and longing within the stories of each dancer. With references to these universal struggles, Andrews’ choreography c

REVIEW: Molly Simpson's 'She Said: What?'

Student Dance Platform
Michaelis Theatre
University of Roehampton
Sunday 3rd May 2015

Set to Kate Nash’s charming love song Birds, Molly Simpson’s light-hearted tap routine was a fun, feel good opening to the Student Dance Platform. As the audience enter the theatre, dancer Louise Ware sits casually using her mobile, with a bright pink rucksack strapped to her back. As the lights dim, nine other dancers, dressed in pretty floral skirts join her on stage, standing in staggered lines on individual coloured square mats.

While adding a certain quirkiness to Simpson’s She said: What?, the dancers’ physical restriction to the mats seemed to stop them from executing the movement as fully as they could have done. Yet, the quick changes of level from being upright to suddenly low and grounded was greatly refreshing.

A conversation between Ware and the other dancers follows Nash’s lyrics, reminding us of the sincerity of Nash’s love song and the narrative unfolding in front of the audience. One dancer breaks away from the others and mimes along to Nash, ‘you look well nice’, emphasising Simpson’s quirky choreography.

Despite the complexity of the steps, overall the movement was slow and relaxed. Nash’s touching Birds added an element of girly sincerity to the work. With the addition of dim lighting and shadows that seem to obscure the dancers’ faces, Simpson effectively creates a summery evening feel.


Saturday, 25 April 2015

REVIEW: The Surreal Fantasy of Pina Bausch's 'Ahnen'

Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch - Ahnen
Sadlers Wells
Friday 24th April 2015

Whisked away into a strange fantasy world, Peter Pabst's cacti ridden set seems to remind us of a futuristic or alien realm. With the addition of sand, straw, an enormous ladder, a great tank of water and a wind machine, Pabst's set allows the dancers to interact with a range of natural and distinctly man-made structures. Yet the randomness of the head of lettuce, the remote controlled helicopter and the large rubber walrus sitting at the back of the stage, remains distinctly surreal.

Busy is the best way to describe Pina Bausch's Ahnen. Driven by the pulsating and changing hypnotic music, the dancers go about their activities on stage with a sense deliberation and conviction:

Perched on a small wooden stool at the front of the stage, a woman busies herself grating a white substance into a bucket throughout the majority of the first act. A man, handcuffed and gagged with an orange, receives a shave from a man in a smart suit and gloves. Later, a man with an outrageously large white feather headdress (which later appears to actually be a tutu), clad only in blue underpants, sits completely still staring into space. Elsewhere, a smartly dressed manservant continuously irons newspapers for a blind woman, as she abruptly fires a pistol into the audience.

Behind the action centre stage, a woman in a black dress and heels unloads wheelbarrows of bricks to carefully build a wall. The crashing sound of the bricks interrupts the action downstage, breaking up the confusion and repetition of the dancers in view. Despite Bausch's renowned reputation in Europe, the disconnection of the dancers arbitrary actions during first act left me feeling bewildered- and cold.

However, the work progresses and the actions of the men and women become more coherent, as they begin to interact with one another and with the audience. Rather than performing their activities separately, without acknowledgement of one another, the dancers are now seen in group formations, united by a prop or a movement.

During a storm created by a wind machine offstage, a man pushes an enormous wardrobe through the cacti, offering blankets to the dancers. Later, a woman addresses the audience, demanding they 'straighten up!', in between amusing discussions of the sound of flies and how to paint water. A man and woman mime a barbarous cartoon fight, stretching each others faces, switching limbs and removing each others guts. While still remaining seemingly random, the connection between the dancers allows meaning to exude from their actions.

It appears that amongst the randomness of the dancer's actions and the indiscriminate objects onstage, Ahnen is a surreal commentary on human life. Are our human desires and activities as futile as the blind woman's request for her ironed newspapers? Bausch's intriguing dreamscape seems to point towards the pointlessness and futility of our own human activity.


Ahnen continues at Sadler's Wells until 26 April 2015


Friday, 24 April 2015

FOOTPRINT DANCE FESTIVAL: Promotional Launch Night!

Last night saw Footprint Dance Festival's promo launch night at University of Roehampton's student union bar. Artistic directors Hannah and Nia led the evening of fundraising, selling t-shirts and doughnuts, holding a jar of sweets competition (congratulations to Ben Patterson!) and finally announcing the Footprint line-up.

Volunteer sign-up and festival tickets (available online here) were also released. Additionally, Footprint's orange mascot was welcomed as the newest member of the team.

Later in the evening, film manager Emilie's promotional video was introduced, revealing Ceyda Tanc Dance, Eden Wiseman, Crystal Zillwood and Jann Gallios, amongst others, as special guests. And finally, renowned choreographer Rosemary Lee was announced as Footprint's special guest. After graduating from the Laban Centre, Lee has choreographed and danced internationally for twenty years, often working with media and film, and on large scale site specific works.


After an incredibly enjoyable and successful launch night, the team raised £126 for the festival. Thank you to everyone who supported us!

We are incredibly excited for the festival to begin in May, get your tickets from the UoR E-Store now!! And don't forget to check out our website and Facebook for more details!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

REVIEW: Breakin' Convention's Open Art Surgery

Breakin' Convention's Open Art Surgery
Hosted by Jonzi D, with DJ Psykhomantus
Lilian Baylis Studio - Sadler's Wells
Saturday 7th March 2015

Breakin' Convention's Open Art Surgery is an exciting opportunity for six young hip hop artists to dissect and sharpen their choreography. All six artists were given a week to devise a piece of dance under the guidance of hip hop mentors before Saturday's performance. As well as being a platform for performance, Open Art Surgery also provides the opportunity for invaluable audience feedback.

The show opened with The Rebirth Network's exploration of schizophrenia. The strength of the work lay in the beautifully structured opening. Choreographer, Daniel 7 sits alone on a chair, his intricate hand movements matching the complexity of the music. The rhythm changes abruptly, initiating a sequence of movements that seems to suggest a fracturing of his identity. The dancers clutch, touch and rub their ears, suggesting the characteristic hallucinations and voices associated with the condition. With the strength of the opening, and hopefully with an equally strong ending, Daniel 7's angst ridden discussion of personal turmoil is an insightful work.

Other brave performances included Xena Gusthart's emotional and intimate study of her brother's disability and the sacrifices and compromises involved. Xena's full bodied performance is enhanced by her bold speech, proclaiming that she can't wait to meet his wife, and his child. Until the tone changes, with her sorrowful and desperate demand that she 'can not wait' any longer, before quickly exiting the stage. Xena's moving work carries the important message of acceptance, which is universally understood by all.

During the second half, Tali & Jack presented another deeply moving piece delving into the issues of dysfunctional relationships and substance abuse. Simultaneous images of suffocation and desire thread throughout the dance. Tali and Jack entwine, interlace, tangle and weave around each other, their limbs sticking as their bodies slide across one another. The lyrics of Ella Fitzgerald's Fairy Tales helps unlock meaning and nuance in the carefully constructed choreography. Overall, an incredibly solid work, with a huge amount of depth and subtlety.

All six performances were considerably unique, bringing themes of struggle, youth, obsession, desire and pain. Comments from the audience were insightful, highlighting exactly how fresh and current each of the artist's ideas were. Finally, it seems there is nothing more sincere than the voice of our youth.

Artists include: The Rebirth Network, Xena Productions, Twin Peak, Tali & Jack, Ivan Blackstock, Sigh

Saturday, 7 March 2015

30 Years of 'Comic' Relief

[DISCLAIMER: donating to charity is an extremely important part of my life, I do agree with giving money to reputable charities. There is clearly a need for aid and charitable donations to African and other third world countries. My concern is with Comic Relief as an organisation]
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It's that time of the year again. Comic Relief has already begun to creep up on television and radio.  But the discussions in the media of the 'impoverishment' and 'desperation' in Africa has already left me feeling angry. Every year the BBC presents a television comedy marathon to raise money for Comic Relief and its sister charity Sport Relief. Yet the juxtaposition of glamour and destitution always seems to leave a bitter taste. Amongst all the fun and glitter, there are some fundamental problems with Comic Relief.

The almost pornographic images and descriptions of severely malnourished children scavenging for food, while mothers carry buckets of water across scorched desert, seem to align the whole of the African continent with the dated homogeneous image of Africa as 'primitive' and 'poor'. The portrayal of African people as less fortunate and less privileged than the British viewer, creates a dangerous opposition between Britons and Africans. The Briton being the privileged 'donor' and the African being the less privileged 'receiver', placing the latter in a subordinate position of dependence upon Western donors.

Secondly, the very fact that Comic Relief sends celebrity personalities to impoverished African countries is a problem in itself. Are we only interested in watching celebrities travel to Africa  because we are more interested in watching the reaction of the familiar face? Overall, the celebrities reporting on the poverty and famine in the continent are ignorant of the complexity of cultures, languages and politics within the countries that Comic Relief targets. Moreover, it often feels as if the tears of the celebrity are treated with more significance than the situation they are addressing.

Regardless of the images and celebrities used by Comic Relief, there is also the conflict between Comic Relief's mission statements and their involvement in arms, tobacco and alcohol. Despite claiming to 'support those affected by conflict', in 2009 Comic Relief invested £630,000 in shares in weapons firm BAE Systems. Additionally, according to the BBC, Comic Relief also aims to fight tuberculosis alongside Target TB. Yet, while raising funds in 2009, nearly £3m worth of donations were invested in shares in tobacco companies. Similarly, in 2009, Comic Relief invested £300,000 in Diageo, a multinational alcoholic beverage company.

Comic Relief is an opportunity for viewers to spontaneously and compulsively give money to the needy, without research into the individuals that benefit from donations. As Peter Popham writes elsewhere, many nations give money to causes that have sentimental, historical, religious or cultural connections. Yet, we, as a nation, seem to give our money thoughtlessly to whoever tugs at our heart strings the hardest.

Food for thought: 

Thirty years after its establishment, Comic Relief is still tackling famine and poverty across the African continent, but how much poverty has been alleviated in Africa since 1985? And, how much poverty has been created in countries by weapons made by manufacturers supported by Comic Relief?

Why are we comfortable donating our money to an organisation that has associations with arms firms, but are not willing to make meaningful changes to our lifestyles or foreign policy, to help alleviate poverty in third world countries?

Is Comic Relief a convenient way to rid a guilty conscience? Because we have no desire to look into the political histories of the countries we want to support (or indeed the legacy of our own colonial history in Africa). Behind our generosity there seems to be an incredibly stubborn ignorance to look further and unfortunately, Comic Relief seems to be one of the best examples of this.

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For more information:

Dismantling Development, 'Comic Relief'
https://dismantlingdevelopment.wordpress.com/tag/comic-relief/

Declan Lawn, The BBC, 'Comic Relief money invested in arms and tobacco shares'
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25273024

Peter Popham, The Indepedent, 'Do we need Comic Relief?'
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/do-we-need-comic-relief-1307359.html

Thursday, 19 February 2015

FOOTPRINT DANCE FESTIVAL: What's Happening Now?

The deadline for choreographic work has passed! Artist directors, Hannah and Nia have worked through applications and watched candidate videos. Invitations to auditions have been sent out and the Footprint Dance Festival Committee are hard at work organising applicant auditions for Thursday 26th February. The committee have met with University of Roehampton Dance faculty and begun reaching out to sponsors. Additionally, Liz and Sophie are about to order Footprint t-shirts, so keep an eye out for Footprint clad people on campus soon!

Today, Emilie, Footprint's film and documentary manager, released the first of many promo videos, introducing the members of Footprint Core Committee. Take a look below:


In other news, Footprint Dance Festival has recently gained a new partnership with Wandsworth Council FRINGE Festival. Footprint has received funding to deliver a Community Dance project with local primary schools, which is great news for the festival.

Keep updated with Footprint Core Committee's progress on the festival on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and via the website!

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Friday, 13 February 2015

REVIEW: Sadler’s Wells The Associates: Kate Prince, Crystal Pite & Hofesh Shechter

Sadler's Wells
Thursday 5th February 2015


Sadler's Wells Associate Artists are central to the artistic direction and vision of the theatre, marking it as the leading venue in Britain for dance. Associate Artists have the opportunity to collaborate with other choreographers and artists to develop ideas for large-scale works. The triple bill produced tonight by Sadler’s Wells director Alastair Spalding presented three choreographers in the midst of choreographic changes. However, a clear gulf is apparent between Crystal Pite’s mysterious An Image Of You Falling and Kate Prince and Hofesh Shechter’s pieces, which felt limp and clumsy.


Directed by Prince, SMILE opened the evening with a seemingly light-hearted exploration of the ‘dark side’ of Charlie Chapin’s showman smile. Ridden with repetition and bland clichés of sad clowns, SMILE does little justice to dancer Tommy Franzén’s exceptional technical and performance abilities. The narrative drifts aimlessly through images of overt showmanship to deeply rooted sadness, without consideration for the reality of Chaplin’s complex psychology.

Additionally, Shechter’s The Barbarians In Love stumbled through its transitions from tight baroque score to Shechter’s contrastingly loose physicality, as the dancers stomped around the stage like beasts. But somewhere in between the clean ballet lines and weighted contemporary movement, the work loses its way. Shechter seems to make an attempt at postmodernism, using a cold female voice to narrate what appears to be a rather intimate therapy session. The woman repeatedly asks Shechter: ‘what do you want Hofesh?’, culminating in Shechter’s frank confession of a mid-life crisis and marital infidelity. His words cut through the built up tension, leaving little for the remainder of the work.

Finally, Pite’s An Image Of You Falling, second in the program was a much-needed relief. Pite’s choreography glides through dark fragmented images of the disturbed relationship between a man and a woman, danced by Peter Chu and Annie Plamondon; from the moment they met to their violent end. Another cold female voice repetitively narrates the piece; ‘this is where it began’, ‘this is the sound of your heart hitting the floor’, ‘this is the room where it happened… a bed, a table, a lamp, no curtains’. Pite’s use of second person is particularly discomforting and emphasises the eerie tone well. The dancers move soundlessly around each other, only making contact towards the end of the work. Their limbs intimately linger, slide and wrap around each other. In the background the sound of machinery, wind and passing cars fills the moments of silence. Was it a car accident that brought the couple to their violent end? Or was it a domestic dispute, as alluded to by the movement?

Pite remains the clear winner in tonight’s triple bill. Of all three choreographers, Pite has total control over her choreography and the direction that it takes. Whereas Shechter and Prince’s choreography felt incomplete and considerably blander.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Another angry mixed race voice

According to recent studies, "mixed race" is the fastest growing ethnic minority group in Britain, with 15% of the ethnic minority population being mixed race. It has become gradually more normal to see interracial couples and mixed race children in Britain in the past twenty years. But how do young mixed race people feel growing up belonging to more than one culture? And what does the commonality of seeing our image in advertising really say?

One of the most common identity problem among mixed race individuals is, for example, feeling too "white" to be "non-white", and too "non-white" to be "white". Although this may not account for all mixed race people, I have often felt out of place at Indian events and at English events. Indian friends have told me my behaviour is too western for me to be considered Indian, and my English family and friends have told me that my dark skin and thick hair is "exotic" or "cool". This sense of not having one singular, solid identity can be confusing and provoking. Additionally, to be frequently told I am not Indian or not English, while struggling to find an identity within each is hugely frustrating. As a child, I often felt like I belonged to a middle ground somewhere in between English and Indian, which I had to create for myself, since I wasn't automatically categorised as one or the other.

While there are clear identity problems for mixed race young people and children, there is also the issue of our sudden appearance in advertising. Our olive skin and thick hair is projected on advertising posters, fashion campaigns, on  televisions, and on social media. We are the more 'palatable' alternative to using specifically Black or Asian models, sufficiently exotic for consumers to recognise us as ethnically "different". We tick the equal opportunity box without offending or discomforting the consumer. Mixed race people are exoticised and valued for their desirable features by advertisers and promoters.

While considering the problem that lies with this, there is also the issue of the "acceptability" of our appearance. Images of darker African individuals have a history of infrequently being used on television or poster advertisements, because the stereotypical robustness of their bodies and darkness of their skin was deemed to be "unacceptable" by European social standards. So, it would seem that using mixed race models and actors to market products to consumers, instead of specifically African or Asian models, reinforces the racial politics that still exist now. Mixed race people are used as a commodity in our consumer culture, without being given a voice or an identity.

Nevertheless, it is significant that mixed race people are being included in advertising. It shows that we are living in a truly multicultural society. Additionally, perhaps providing images of mixed race individuals can create a sense of belonging for mixed race viewers and consumers. However, there is a problem with consumer and marketing attitudes towards race that needs to be addressed. Mixed race people are not a tool for creating profit, and neither are we a "safe" way of avoiding the consumer's discomfort of seeing images of specifically African or Asian individuals.

Want to know more?

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2006/sep/06/guardiansocietysupplement1

http://www.intermix.org.uk/academic/Emma%20Dabiri.asp

Warning: this one will make you angry
http://whitegenocideproject.com/study-mixed-race-people-have-identity-problems/