Around the Town 18th July
I have run out of words to describe this annual highlight in the town's calendar. Starting at 10.30am and finishing at 5pm around 200 musicians and dancers performed 20 different sets at four different outdoor venues. They provided: free entertainment for hundreds; multiple photo opportunities ; and reason for much discussion.
By now the Day of Dance must have served its broad educational purposes, to remind people that there are different styles and traditions in Morris and Country Dancing. So with more dancers than you might shake a stick at you could see: North West Morris; Molly dancers; Cotswold Morris; Clog and Appalachian step dancing; Border Morris and more besides.
With dance sides from Worcestershire, Nottinghamshire, Cheshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Warwickshire and Derbyshire this was an ideal opportunity to see and hear what the world of traditional dance has to offer. Maybe a few onlookers will have been persuaded to give it a go!
Happy birthday to Chapel-en-le-Frith Morris Men who are 40 this year and many thanks to the other 15 dance sides that contributed so much on what was, happily, a warm and sunny day.
‘Fusion’ is an over-used term in the performing arts but when it comes to work of Makoto Inoue it not only describes the style but the whole approach. While it sits within the dance category of the Fringe, it’s as much a piece of theatre and visual art.
Makoto Inoue’s return to Buxton this year brings the world premiere of Clown Macbeth – a new non-verbal version of the Shakespeare tragedy. Inspired by the traditional Ryukyu dance of Okinawa, the performance blends this traditional Japanese art form with classic mime and contemporary movement.
Macbeth is played by Makoto Inoue as a Pierrot-style character, with trademark white face and teardrop. Without speech, Makoto Inoue uses his body and, most notably, a wide range of facial expressions to switch between moods - at times, comic then tragic. His story is propelled and punctuated by an abstract soundtrack mixing circus music, rain, laughter and even white noise. Despite a few timing issues with the audio, it’s an interesting and thought provoking interpretation of Macbeth as ringmaster, puppet, clown. Makoto Inoue is a versatile and talented performer.
This is not a one man show however; Lady Macbeth played by Riko Sugama brings another dimension to the piece. In contrast to the clowning around of Macbeth, Riko Sugama portrays Lady Macbeth in the restrained manner of the Ryukyu dance. Her emotions are expressed through subtle movements particularly of her arms and hands. It’s a delight to be introduced to this graceful and beautiful dance form.
If I had to categorise Clown Macbeth, it’s that of a visual spectacle. Go with an open mind and be ready to see Shakespeare in a refreshing new light.
Fresh from touring China and Japan, Canadian musician Colin Garvey and Chinese professional dancer Yozy Yu Zhang arrive in the UK with a wonderful show combining Colin’s gutsy folk songs and Yozy’s fluid contemporary dance.
Colin uses the loop pedal to great effect, building up songs and rhythms using beat boxing, guitar and mouth organ. The effect is a little like watching someone spinning multiple plates – he seems almost to set a song off, then still elements of it or set off another part as required. Often it was hard to believe that so much sound was coming from one person. He has a great voice, a bit like Ed Sheeran in style, bags of energy and a lovely, open manner with the audience.
Yozy told me afterwards that some of her dancing, which features elements of jazz and traditional Chinese dance, is choreographed, but that she also likes to leave “space” in which to interpret the rhythm and music in her own way on the spot. However she achieves it, she is absolutely at one with the music and supremely comfortable with the space she inhabits, using every inch of the stage and every inch of her flexible body. Imaginative touches include the confining blindfold that becomes instead a free-flowing ribbon, and her arrival on stage, fingers first like some underwater sea anenome for one romantic, blue-lit song.
45 minutes flew by with the pair concluding with a bizarre but successful sequence in which Colin “set off” one of his songs, then painted a portrait while Yozy held up the canvas and contributed her own airy vocals.
Words to not do justice to this show. In a way it was like a whole Fringe in one show with elements of dance, music, visual spectacle (and I don’t just mean the painting), a touch of magic and most of all love. It was no surprise to hear that these two beautiful people are engaged. I felt as if I had wandered into something deeply cool and exciting in a late night club in New York or somewhere. Catch them in Buxton while you can on July 17, 7.30pm and July 18, 2.30pm.
With rave reviews following last year’s performance, my expectations were high for dotdotdot’s return to Buxton with No Frills. Well, on a wet Monday evening, they certainly delivered. A sold out audience were transported from the Pavilion Arts Centre Studio to southern Spain. But forget about the castanets, fans and frills, as the name suggests this is flamenco stripped back to its core.
The performance is a showcase for the three dancers – Yinka Esi Graves, Noemí Luz and Magdalena Mannion – with each performing a series of individual pieces in their own distinctive styles as well as dancing as a trio. The choreography is complex yet sharp both in the solos and group pieces. Every tap, clap and finger snap is precise but it’s the energy, power and intensity of the solos that are truly mesmerising.
These passionate performances are matched by those of singer Anna Colom Tadeo, guitarist Liam Howarth and percussionist Franco Bianco.
Whether you’re already a fan of flamenco or not, dotdotdot’s performance will draw you in with its contemporary take on a classic form. Garnering a standing ovation last night, it’s clear that Buxton is still spellbound by No Frills.