Writing about DANCE

Advice from a dancer…


Carly’s top 5 dance companies from around the world and what makes their work stand out

by Carly Blackburn, Contemporary Dancer BA Hons. Theatre Dance, London Studio Centre

1- Kidd Pivot
Choreographer- Crystal Pite
Why? “Intricacy of the movement, detail and articulate. The body dislocates so that each part moves individually.”
2- Australian Dance Theatre
Choreographer- Gary Stuart

Why? “Holds a narrative but is also athletic, combining pure dance and storytelling.”

3- Grupo Corpo
Choreographer- Rodrigo Pederneiras

Why? “Build up of gestures, use of unison and rythmical pace.”

4- Yorke Dance Project
Choreographer- Yolande Yorke-Edgell

Why? “The movement and the music synchronise taking you on a journey to New York.”

5- Van Huynh Company
Choreographer- Dam Van Huynh

Why? “Choreography is very true to reality.”
Pic of Carly, photographer: Jodie Blackburn  www.jodieblackburn.blogspot.com


snaps and review of The People Pile & Guest Artists at The Studio Event by Tessa Ditner

‘Arctic Boisei’ Vick Fox

The People Pile & Guest Artists has come to London Studio Centre. The People Pile launched in December of last year with a mission to invade various spaces. Over the course of one day, they have invaded 14 different spaces from dance studios, rooms, basements, corridors and even a shower; with dance, theatre, puppetry, DJ, sculpture, improvisation and roaming performers.

Edd Mitton in The Memory Room

To help me review this monster of a project, I’ve called in physical theatre/choreographer Barbara Babei. Here is (the slightly longer than normal, well it is 14 shows in one) review of the People Pile’s largest collaboration to date.

The audience is separated into groups and are lead through the London Studio Centre, professional dance training school which has been in Kings Cross since 1987, by an energetic hiker with a backpack containing sweets. The staircases are home to roaming performers such as heartbeats.

The first piece of theatre ‘Stamp Collective’ is interactive with a Robert Palmer ‘Addicted to Love’ feel. We find ourselves taking part in the productivity office where the audience is given tasks. The power of the piece comes from not knowing the kind of setting you have walked into, a nightmare? The typewriting sounds hint that it might be. We are instructed to stick matchsticks to the walls of the shower, our dreams getting extracted. This might sound like hard work as far as audience participation goes, but this piece of theatre brought out some wonderful surprises, particularly from a lady beside me who accidentally revealed domestic issues by recalling last nights’ dream. The simple but strong visuals of the dream jar is also enchanting when it is put under lock and key, proving you don’t need a mammoth budget to capture the imagination.

The Sperm Race, choreographed and directed by Lucy Ridley

The nightmare and matchstick theme continues in ‘Backstage’ past a heap of chairs. In this Punchdrunk-esque performance, Michelle Buckley creeps out of a cardboard box in her ballet shoes. She dances mechanically, like she is made of doll joints, adjusting her points in an understated rythm. Strong and compelling audio visuals by Andrew Hurst and Shona Masarin redefined darkness as blue ink and give it a graceful, menacing presence. The tipping boxes are a nice surprise and I would love to see this as part of a larger narrative and on a larger scale.

Back to audience participation, Barbara is daring enough to climb into a tent marked for one audience member at a time. ‘This is how I became mute’ performed by Marcella Steen is given five stars by Barbara who finds the piece deeply psychological. ‘Is it about mental illness? Is it merely to freak out the audience? I don’t know, but acting out this deep psychological nightmare and how she could do this in improvisation mode I have no idea.’ Amongst ripped up tapes, you sit with Marcella who is covered in plasters. She uses her own voice and her recorded voice to give you a surreal, mind-bending experience. ‘But if you feel drawn in, imagine how this girl feels trapped in this psychological nightmare?’

Another room which works wonderfully well as a stand alone is ‘The Memory Room’ by Edd Mitton. Red lights, memories on pegs hanging from the ceiling, tea, a piano. Audiences felt so comfortable in Edd Mitton and Elena Colman’s created space, that some were strewn across the sofa or helping themselves to cups of tea, walking around Edd as if he wasn’t performing at all. Wonderful, elegant, simple, beautiful. This is the direction that commercial spaces might like to go in to give young artists exposure, without interrupting the flow of their business. I am thinking Sketch, the cafe areas of the Imperial War Museum, other gallery cafes and bookshops across the country.

For a whole narrative condensed into a few words, we both loved laugh out loud theatre by Ronan Le Fur and Sean Jones. A perfect balance between clown and narrative with simple ideas being explored inwards such as -getting excited by the arrival of post- and the letter saying ‘open the box using the key in your shoe’. The cartoon-esque body language and props were concentrated comic power, whilst still being a seriously professional piece of theatre. I would love to see this piece developed into a longer narrative, or just have them come into my house and act it out over and over again until I die of laughter.

The other dance section of this show is the provocatively named ‘Sperm Race’, which is actually very child friendly and rather educational. The sperm dancers express the blind law of nature through their ‘new born puppy’ facial expressions, twitching crab-esque running and their willingness to ‘fight to the death’ for something they have never seen. It is about heard behaviour? Or just reminding us to respect sperm’s difficult mission? In any case we audience were soon reduced to shoulder-to-shoulder sperms, following the dancing ones to the egg theatre, thanks to the guiding voice of the showman. A bit grotesque? The little girl in our group in her essential Hello Kitty hair bobbles was loving it, so I am not arguing with her.

Two other seriously talented dance shows are ‘Patriot’ and ‘Currently Bound’. The Hello Kitty hair girl makes some interesting points at the beginning of ‘Patriot’ by shouting ‘the lights are off! ’ and ‘nothing is happening!’ because Vicky Hoyland’s perfectly executed performance is most definitely grounded in grown up sensibilities. The darkness and the music builds up an atmosphere and creates a nice frame for the message: ‘This is how she wants her life to be, this is how’. Ie: We want everything to be measured, we want to be in control, but we struggle to keep on the beat. Barbara only has one criticism of ‘Patriot’ in that she feels there is a lack of facial communication with the audience. I didn’t feel that this was particularly problematic because I like looking into a piece of theatre the same way I look into a goldfish bowl, rather than being in confrontation mode. This is probably why we disagreed on the Dr Seuss-like ‘The Curious Tale of the Decreasing Squeakers’. I felt like I couldn’t relax with all the balloons likely to pop in my face, whilst Barbara loved dissecting the many meanings of the shuffling, balloon-munching characters handing you and taking away the inflatable MacGuffins. There was however, a unanimous level of respect for the use of balloon air as ‘voice’ of squeaky rendition of ‘Silent Night’.

One of my favourite pieces from the show is the classically beautiful ‘Currently Bound’, decorated in naïf Pierrot pastels and boats from jellymongers Bompass & Parr. I have been keeping an eye on these dancers for over a year now and their skill level never fails to impress. This time they are accompanied by live music by At Stations. The overall result is Grupo Corpo-esque contemporary dance with strong individual undertones, brought about by the dancers working alongside choreographer and director Lucy Ridley. The props were used to beautiful effect: a fat rope gives a sense of time, strong, flexy spines curling out of the boats remind you of just how strong the body of a dancer needs to be. (I suspect these dancers have gone the way of Wolverine and had some metal surgery).

Other child-friendly shows are the hippie-esque puppetry in ‘Whispers from a Wandering Tent’Smoking Apples’ which displayed thorough puppetry skills and casual, chilled out drag queen Vivienne Lynsey’s being chatty and honest in her boudoir act, set on the pillow-clad floor of her boudoir.

Another piece of theatre ‘The Wonder Club’ had a David Nicholls ‘One Day’ feel to it, but focussed on the love killer: domesticity. A -To Do- list, celery munching, talking about her ideals while he takes his socks off… Barbara admired the use of space, especially the cycling and the arrangement of limbs, doll-like around a tipped bicycle.

Overall The People Pile is exciting for its ability to showcase rising stars in the world of theatre, performance and dance. They allow choreographers and directors to test new work and the few sculptures that were present like the cute and interesting ‘Arctic Boisei’ by Vick Fox and uber cool ‘Sync’ by Max Hattler, proved that sculpture and art can contribute to performance and add an extra zing of energy. I hope that many of these pieces will be turned into full scale theatre, especially ‘Stamp Collective’ and ‘Backstage’. Barbara felt that the guides could have been more neutral in order to give the audience a softer transition between spaces, which in a roundabout way, is praise for the brainy narrative depth and the delicious way in which you were guided out of each universe, before they had reached any sort of ending.

‘ID’ by Nicola London and Sinziana Koenig
The Curious Tale of the Decreasing Squeakers

Bergstrom & Lauren Bridle. Commentator SImon Kane.
Composer aka Cosmetic Onion Shield from Cozmik Onion Field

‘The Memory Room’ Edd Mitton & Elena Colman. Performed by Edd Mitton.

‘Study’ Choreographed and performed by Mia Theil Have & Irene Cioni. Music by Matt Lewis et al.
‘Directions’ Stewart Kennedy Dance Company Choreography by Stewart Kennedy. Performed by Stewart Kennedy & Jen Gourlay. Music is ‘The Pot’ by Tool.
*(insert words here)* The Wonder Club Performed by Michelle Roche, Kyung Lim Lee, Jason Baker, Soren Evinson Williams & Rachel Cohen.

‘Whispers from a Wandering Tent’ Smoking Apples Performed by Matthew Lloyd, Molly Freeman & Harriet Field.

Currently Bound

‘ID’ Nicola London & Sinziana Koenig Featuring dancers Luke Bradshaw, Rowan Heather and Pierluigi Caradio.

Vivienne Lynsey

‘This is how I become mute’ Choreography by Anna Bergstorm. Performed by Marcella Stéen.

‘Arctic Boisei’ Vick Fox

‘Sync’ Max Hattler
‘Too Late for Kissing’ Performed by Ronan Le Fur & Sean Jones
‘Currently Bound’ The People Pile Choreography and direction by Lucy Ridley in collaboration with the dancers. Music by At Stations: Tom Sankey, Thomas Butler, Adam Humphreys & Tom Flynn. Performed by Lauren Bridle, Davin King, Nicola Hospedales, Carly Blackburn & Jess Williams.

‘The Curious Tale of the Decreasing Squeakers’ The People Pile Choreography and direction by Lucy Ridley in collaboration with the dancers. Music by Stephen Horne. Performed by Amy Lazarou, Anna Bergstrom, Kirsty Green, Daniel Calladine, Charlotte Coking & Valeria Tello Giusti.

‘Untitled (A Story in Location)’ Ibiye Camp

Backstage’ Choreography by Julia K. Gleich. Music and Visuals by Andrew Hurst & Shona Masarin. Performed by Michelle Buckley.

‘Patriot’ Choreographed by James Finnemore. Performed by James Finnemore/Vicky Hoyland. Music by Joel Harries.

The Sperm Race

Stamp Collective Performed by Ellie Stamp, Sarah Vero, Kelley Tregenna, Amy Insole, Isabel Soden, Verity Clayton, Gabriela Belard & Holly Hardy.

‘Bag Drop’ Duval Timothy

The People Pile Performers: Simeon John, Emily Aitcheson, David Ogle, Chris Wolert, Helen Booth, Russell Swallow, Alasdair Macleod, Maria Schep, Charlotte Limm, Hannah Bertram, Justina Schlegel & Hope Mcgarry.

Technical Team: Matt Stanway, Alex Cadente, Jane Atkinson, Chris Reli & Broken Spectacle Productions: Mel Underwood, Izzy Circou, Anthony Earles, Dave Hunter, Nathan Long, Charlotte Limm, Alice Pocock, Gemma Bishop, Maria Schep, Jonathan Martin, Matt Briggs.


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