‘I don’t like football, you know that.’ This was the first line I uttered in the comedy An Evening with Gary Lineker, 16 years ago, and never has a line summed up the actor as much as the character. I loathe football with a passion and have been known to go into a decline when a major tournament comes into view.
So how can I explain the delight I felt at Next Door Dance’s show, The Beautiful Game? Choreographed by Jennifer Manderson, this is a witty, clever celebration of soccer in all its forms, from schoolboy kick-about to international glory, from professional fouls to Sunday league, from referees to armchair punditry and football widows.
Manderson and her hugely talented team – Hayley Ross, Georgina Saunders, Louise Gibbs and Laura Savage – bring passion and movement to vox pop interviews, to commentary, as well as to music as disparate as Doris Day, Nat King Cole, D’Ream and Spandau Ballet, seamlessly moving from one ‘scene’ to the next, sometimes casually solo, then snapping into slick ensemble work – always focussed, always in character.
I don’t like football and yet this show managed to almost persuade me of its charms, or at least of what its lovers see in it. At 45 minutes, it’s a game in one half, and one that anyone wanting an original, accomplished experience shouldn’t miss. The girls done good.
It was just about the perfect summer's day for Morris dancing; warm, bright, dry and calm and the town was full of the sights and sounds of dancers. Clogs, sticks, bells, hankies, hats, feathers and capes were all on display.
The Day of Dance is efficiently organised by Chapel-en-le-Frith Morris Men and 15 sides were able to demonstrate a range of Morris styles along Spring Gardens, in the Pavilion Gardens, on Broad Walk, at the bottom of the Slopes as well as in front of the Opera House.
We were entertained by sides from the Midlands and the North of England. Some people think only of bells and hankies when it comes to Morris dancing - this is probably the Cotswold style exemplified today by our hosts as well as Chip off the Old (from Derby), St Katherine's from Northamptonshire, Thelwall (near Warrington) and Waters Green (a women's side from Macclesfield). The days when purists demanded that only men danced are happily over - though Cotswold sides are usually single sex.
If Cotswold represents the genteel end of the Morris spectrum then the vigorous Border style of Powderkegs from Whaley Bridge is the robust end. With blacked-up faces (possibly as camouflage to avoid recognition whilst poaching) with black top hats and boots, flaming cloaks and plenty of whooping their disguises hide the mixed sex nature of the team.
The Derbyshire Dales village of Winster is proud of its own dance and folk traditions and the Winster Gallop is widely imitated so it was good to have the chance to see it danced as authentically as possible by the Winster Morris side.
As you might expect and suppose there were a clutch of North West Morris sides; women clog dancers such as the Maids of Clifton (Nottingham), the Poynton Jemmers and Milltown Cloggies (near Stalybridge).
Also out on the streets were the ever-elegant Adlington Morris, Black Adder from Birmingham, Harthill from Sheffield, Kesteven from Lincolnshire and Leek Morris. All were delightful and hard-working. They laughed; we clapped, smiled and took hundreds of pictures.
Next year international visitors are promised. Let's hope the weather gods smile on us again.
Underground Venues 8, 10 & 11 July
Colin and Yozy are Cozy. Colin plays guitar and harmonica. He also sings. Through the skillful and unfussy use of loop pedals and beat box he creates dense layers of rhythmic, almost hypnotic, sound. Yozy is slim, dressed in white with long black hair which, when she dances, is almost an extension of her body. Yozy also plays bass guitar for a couple of songs. Projected on a dark cloth behind are images - sometimes rotating geometric shapes, sometimes splashes of colour - often red. Blood is suggested.
The performance is about creating a mood often and that is hard to find words for. There is something primitive and ritualistic about it - and that is not a negative criticism. At times it seems as though we should be part of the performance rather than just witnesses.
One piece started from a clichéd Chinese riff - Yozy is Chinese. The last piece was a restrained version of Werewolves of London. Yozy's dancing was built on flowing spins, bends and stretches. She moves lightly as though the air is undisturbed.
Cozy are listed in the Dance section of the programme. In some ways they don't fit neatly in any category. There is music, song, movement and visual art - though no speed painting today.
Yozy and Colin hadn't slept for 24 hours after a long journey - including delays. Their rehearsal time had been curtailed and Colin's paintbrushes had gone astray. He is confident that all will be well for the next show - and there is nothing else like it in the Buxton Fringe.
When a show is full of twists, turns and unexpected surprises, it would be wrong for a reviewer to give too much away. Lewys Holt’s dance-comedy is both delightfully and disconcertingly bizarre. I left the Arts Centre Studio wanting to get as far away as possible whilst, at the same time, wanting to watch the whole thing over and over again.
Holt takes an amusing look at the questions posed by many a tween-targeted Disney Channel movie – What does it mean to be cool? Should I try to be cool? Of, Or at a Fairly Low Temperature makes it clear that such questions still need to be asked no matter what age we reach and, perhaps surprisingly, that they can be addressed in a mature, artful and agelessly engaging manner.
Holt is an agile and sprightly presence on stage. I particularly enjoyed his sharp portrayal of a skateboarding, Scandinavian friend who wears his hair in a ‘very cool bun of man’. An assured young performer, Holt does not put his audience at ease – I don’t believe that is his aim – but cleverly and energetically inspires them to confront their own preoccupations with appearing ‘cool’.
I would recommend Of, Or At a Fairly Low Temperature as a unique and memorable experience. If you have ever felt cool, uncool or anything inbetween then this is a show worth seeing.