This year's dance show from the Buxton Community School is a compilation of short dances based on a selection of poetry. The performers were a mixture of year 10 students, year 11 & 12 BTEC and year twelve dancers who are performing just for fun.
The first dance There's A Side To You ... based on Rudyard Kipling's arguably most famous poem 'if' was danced by the many talented individuals of the year 10 dance club. The piece used a series of motifs and sequences that were repeated and developed throughout, which fitted with the themes of self-development in the poem. The movements were uplifting and seemed to suggest themes of motivation and coming of age.
A Bitter Goodbye by the year 11 BTEC students was a charming tribute to Sylvia Plath's poem 'Jilted' and beautifully represented the bitterness and disappointment of love. The repetition of contrasting movement showed how hope and optimism can be dashed.
The year 12 dancers who just dance for pleasure, danced to 'Creep' by Radiohead and the three performers were utterly engaging throughout. The piece was inspired by a poem written by one of the students. The effect that the poem had on the dancers was profound and the piece was incredibly moving. The group used repetition throughout with a hiding motif that emphasised the pain of being ignored. Throughout the piece the victim questioned their oppressor and yearned physically for answers. It was a touching piece, demonstrating great vulnerability, and an issue clearly relevant for so many young people.
Finally what followed were five dances by the year 12 BTEC students who performed a series of pieces based on different poems such as 'Mariana' by Tennyson, 'Hope Abides' by Sri Chinmoy. The finale of which was an inspired piece of contemporary dance named Havisham after the poem by Carol Ann Duffy. The year 12 BTEC students are obviously a confident and talented group of young people. The final dance in particular built towards an inevitable crescendo and although the unison elements of the dance could have been a little slicker the dramatic end was the highlight of the evening.
What was interesting about all the pieces is the way in which the music and poetry informed the dancing, a great example of this was the perfectly matched 'Taken too Soon' by Trina Harty performed to Ed Sheeran's emotional song 'Small Bump'. Although some of the girls could have done with a little more professionalism and energy, the evening was well enjoyed by all.
'No one likes an unexpected morris dancer' writes the best selling author Terry Pratchett, but after experiencing the many performances around Buxton on Saturday, I have to disagree. The sound of bells jingling in the supermarket and the sight of many a be-flowered hat around the park are surprising, but in no way unpleasant.
The range of costume, group size, age, sex and stimuli amongst the various groups performing was amazing and indicates that morris dancing seems to have broken away from the stereotype that only old men participate in the morris tradition.
From the dancers I saw I have two clear favourites: Boggart's Breakfast and the Poynton Jemmers. Boggart's Breakfast are a mixed group from Sheffield who take inspiration from the steel and coal industries associated with the city. This is made clear particularly through their costumes, which are black with metallic pieces all over them. This makes their dynamic choreography even more eye catching as the metallic pieces glint in the sun.
The Poynton Jemmers were a true pleasure to watch; not only were they exceptionally well timed and aware of each other but when they started to dance and their faces lit up everyone watching felt the joy they were clearly feeling. Their happiness made us happy. The ladies were dressed like gingham jam tops which made them all the more loveable.
The day of dance was absolutely a triumph, this was shown particularly by the reaction of audiences, all who were attentive and most observers could be seen tapping their feet to the well worn tunes played by many a talented musician. The pavilion gardens area was thronged with people throughout the day and with a friendly atmosphere the lines between performer and spectator were blurred, making the spectacle all the more fun. Leaving the park I felt that I would've liked to have joined in more than anything which is surely a sign of complete success.
In this year of national pride I would like to thank the enchanting morris men and women for doing what they have always done: entertaining themselves and the public and for keeping the joy of this extremely English tradition alive.
By Emmy Chadwick
The graduates of Derby University combined modern and the classical elements of dance in their open air performance of Contemporary Dance Piece. The dancers told their story of the different stages of life by seamlessly combining contact-release, fall and recovery and lifts in partnering. I had to feel a little sorry for the dancers during the floor work though, since the pebble floor of the Pavilion Gardens is the perfect material for a grazed knee.
However the location itself was entirely liberating and the blowing wind danced along with the performers, wafting their clothes and hair creating some extra movement, unique and created only to in that moment.
It is worth mentioning Lauren Monaghan as an outstanding dancer who grabbed my attention throughout. Her movements were controlled and followed through to the final fingertip. Monaghan was incredibly watchable and even in the busy, open Pavilion Gardens her performance reached out.
The performance was designed to connect with the audience (or passers-by) and included many almost interactive moments, such as a look or a moment with individuals.
The motivated students are all taught by contemporary dancer and Choreographer Elizabeth Foster, whose poise and style is clearly an influence for the four performers.
Some of the dancers will be appearing in the Buxton Festival's production of James and the Giant Peach so if you didn't catch them in the Pavilion Gardens, it's worth seeing them then.
The Railway, 6-7 July, 2pm to 3pm and 7pm to 8pm.
Buxton Fringe has been trying to encourage more dance so it is good to see this inventive performance from five talented young dancers from Aquinas College.
Playing to a small but attentive audience sitting on all four sides of the room, they use every inch of the dance floor at The Railway to create ever-moving tableaux. The Rehearsal, choreographed by contemporary dance graduate Shelley Owen, has been devised through improvisation techniques and enjoys the blurring of boundaries between audience and performer as dancers take turn to sit out amongst us. The action builds as the dancers first pace out the space, then experiment with their movements. It is an oddly informal piece with a sitting dancer at one point taking a gulp from her water bottle whilst the group's one male dancer puts his hand on her shoulder and launches himself off again.
Partition de Piano is a more traditionally beautiful dance in which the performers fly across the room to racing piano music, while The Show Must Go On!, choreographed by one of the dancers, Tom Barratt, has a different mood entirely being inspired by a Mr Benn picture book and featuring delightful Mr Benn music plus the odd elephant noise as it tells the story of a circus troupe building a bridge in order to cross the river. The programme notes suggest that the dancers are trying to mirror the flat shapes from the page and this works well with their jerking elbows putting me in mind of cardboard figures jointed by paper fasteners.
A full show also includes 5 by 5 inspired by the work of former Ballet Rambert choreographer Richard Alston. Again, the whole space is used and the dancers move harmoniously with a kind of indirect symmetry, creating a kaleidoscopic effect.
After a brief interval, That's the Way I See It, choreographed by another dance graduate Hannah Buckley with reference to David Hockney's autobiography of the same title, sees the troupe reinvented in orange leggings, yellow vests and green and orange ruffs - colours that put me in mind of the artist's recent Yorkshire paintings. Against a soundscape of sea and gulls, the dancers play with Hockney's idea that 'we can't all be seeing the same things'. This is almost literally impossible here as the dancers, whilst often close together, make subtly different movements so that the audience is forced to choose whom to look at.
The company clearly does not want to offer too many clues as to what it all means - indeed the programme notes declare: 'Don't be afraid of what you do not know' - and although more information about the music would have been nice, it isn't too hard to accept their invitation to make our own interpretations. Nor is it even all about 'meaning'. It is enough to appreciate the dancer's graceful and often surprising movements using every part of their body - with the one exception of their faces (there was a tendency to look down on occasions).
With only three more performances to go, you need to hurry to catch up with this engaging dance company so please do support these up and coming dance performers.
Makoto Inoue returns to the Fringe after his success last year with Richard III. This year his performance is an interpretation of a tale from Japanese folklore. A famous story from the Kabuki theatre. Dojo-Ji is a temple in Kii Province which today is the Wakayama Prefecture. The Kabuki play is famous for its main prop, a large bell which is a famous feature of the temple. There is not large bell prop in this performance but you'll recognise it immediately.
Makoto Inoue interprets the play single handedly, playing the three characters; Old monk, young monk and the woman who offers them shelter during the pilgrimage. "Hell hath no fury than a woman scorned"
I always familiarise myself with background before watching performances especially when I am reviewing a piece but it is not necessary to enjoy this performance. You will be given a brief introduction as you are shown into the Paupers' Pit, but it can be enjoyed equally on a purely abstract level.
Makoto is not just an interpretive dancer he also uses mime, synchronised with sound effects which together with selected pieces of music, he tells the story.
The performance last 45 minutes and for the entire duration I was transfixed both by his movements and his whitened face as he expressed the different characters and the range of their feelings. In the intimacy of the Pit, where he was only six feet away, his face played a major part in the performance.
It is rare to see this form of performing art and is a special treat regardless of your own preferences. This is an experience you should not miss. He is exceptional and the images he creates will stay at the front of your mind as you discuss his interpretation between yourselves afterwards.
Doji-Ji is on again on 18th and 19th at 7:30pm in the Paupers Pit (Underground Venues).
The Key Physical Theatre was formed in 2010 in Taiwan by Chien Tzu-Ting and Huang Ching-Yu and today performed for the first time in the UK as a warm up for a stint at Edinburgh.
The room they chose to ramble in is promisingly laid out with a drift of chairs piled up towards the back and with some intriguing draped cloth on the floor. Curled up in a precariously perched chair one of the dancers slowly wakes from a deep sleep with much yawning and realistic twitching. She begins to dance alone with no music and it allows us to hear those subtle sounds of dancing - the scrape of bare feet on the boards, the panting of exercised bodies. A circle of cloth becomes transformed into a swirling dress and the dance takes flight.
Soon she is joined by her diminutive dancing partner who takes over the action and seems to evoke a rather challenging swim - the cloth near the audiences feet being transformed into a chilly shoreline at which she tip-toes at first but then takes the plunge.
She is then reunited with her partner and the mood of the dance changes again with some cleverly integrated though nightmarish moves with lots of pushing and pulling and windmilling of arms. In fact one of the joys of their performance is the variety of the work and this is echoed by the variety of music - from gentle western piano music, through oriental tunes to the madness of a weird version of Jingle Bells.
This variety gave us much to enjoy but I particularly liked their elegant hand movements as they eventually emerged from behind the pile of chairs after retiring there for a costume change half way through.
Chien Tzu-Ting and Huang Ching-Yu treated us to nearly an hour of varied and fun dancing and brought something a bit different to the Fringe - a real one-off.