Dance Reviews

A ROSE BY ANOTHER NAME - Brick Wall Ensemble

A plague a' both your houses

A rose by Another Name is a piece of immersive dance theatre that explores the issue of gender, sexuality and forbidden love, loosely expressed through the narrative of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

The Prologue begins with a pair of suicidal star-cross'd lovers who are represented throughout with two red roses which the cast switch among themselves. Although the ensemble are not dancers in the traditional sense there are clearly some contemporary influences and the more expressive parts of the show employ motifs of reaching, contractions, lifts and counter balances.

The group manage to create a sense of atmosphere in the United Reform Church Hall, with tactfully placed up-lighting and a pink wash, which compliment their pastel, LGBT pride flag, splattered costumes.

The cast are truly creative visionaries and use physical theatre, contemporary dance, soundscapes, singing, body percussion and text to create a wonderfully visceral and exciting show. Gender seamlessly shifts throughout the show and it is really refreshing to see tenderness and romantic love expressed in dance through a same sex couple.

The dance is as gender progressive as the subject matter itself. The performers seamlessly shift between traditional dance stereotypes and subvert the heterosexual dance partnership to a homosexual one. The male performers are more than just glorified lifters and there are some beautiful moments of delicate love portrayed between the five of them. Likewise the young women provide strength, aggression and power as well as traditional female expressions of love.

All of the dancers are a really talented bunch, who passionately wave together this multi sensory piece of high quality performance art. The ensemble are made up of all different shapes and sizes as apposed to the cookie cutter contemporary dancer frame. This brings a raw reality and a unique energy to their performance and work together which is really captivating. The entire cast are made up of dancers actors and musicians and it is a pleasure to watch such a talented group performing together. Natasha Jarvis a particularly superb performer who works well within the ensemble and conveys emotion through her movement and energy in a beautiful way. Sean Thornhill is a diverse performer who conveys power and masculinity then contrasts this with a delicate and sensual section performed alongside Joseph Holmes that was memorable for its challenging choreography.

There are some truly imaginative feats of physical engineering that the company create! A great balcony scene springs up out of nowhere and the exquisite moment where they beautifully embody the fabric of Juliet's wedding dress.

I must also mention the live music element to the piece. Throughout the show the cast use spoken word, choral singing and chanting as well as the exceptionally powerful body percussion. It wasn't until half way through the show that I realised the beautiful score I had been listening to, was being performed live right behind me by the company's very talented musical director Iain Armstrong. The music is subtle and enchanting responding to every moment and movement on the stage. My only criticism would be stick Iain on stage! This extra element is really unique and the audience would enjoy seeing how the performers and musician interact with one another.

The recent controversy over the same-sex marriage bill still divides opinion up and down the country and ancient grudge break to new mutiny. It has to be said this piece explores the subject matter bravely with artistic and moral integrity.

I thoroughly enjoyed this piece. The young cast are exceptionally talented and have created a truly wonderful piece of vibrant physical theatre. I would recommend for anyone looking to indulge in some great movement and powerful imagery.

Sian Dudley

BUXTON DAY OF DANCE - Chapel-en-le-Frith Morris Men

Dancing on the Prom

Temperatures dropped by a few degrees today as cloud hid the sun for much of the time. Among those who may have been glad of that were some of the 16 (yes, that's right 16!) Morris dance sides in town for the day.

Five different dance sessions at four different venues between 10.15 in the morning right through to 4.30 in the afternoon delivered a spectacle of Morris dancing. This year - as ever - there were a good number of 'local' dance teams but also visitors from Exeter and Windsor.

Historically and traditionally Morris dancing has been reserved for men but happily there are mixed-sex sides and all-women groups of dancers and this progress was evident in the Buxton day of dance. So, for example, we had Well Heeled based in Bakewell extending the range of dance on offer with Appalachian clog dancing. Also dancing in clogs were the women of Milltown Morris and the men of Manchester Morris.

One explanation for the term 'Morris' is that it is derived from Spain and 'Moorish'. One Spanish visitor watching assured us that she had never seen anything like it.

Thanks, as ever, to Chapel-en-le-Frith Morris Men for organising this splendid event and thanks for all the dance sides for providing entertainment throughout the day for hundreds of visitors. Dancing today were the following Morris and dance sides:

Black Dog; Chapel-en-le-Frith; Harthill; Windsor; Exeter; Kesteven; Kinnerton; Well Heeled; Leek; Manchester; Milltown; Ripley; Adlington; Fiddle 'n' Feet; St Katharine's; Stone the Crows.

Morris dancers enjoy what they do but the casual observer doesn't always appreciate how much time - all-year long - goes into practicing, travelling, dancing out and how much money is raised for local charities.

We look forward to a Day of dance in 2014!

Keith Savage