Stan's Cafe: One looks, marvels and understands

Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

New Dance Hero

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Today I was fortunate enough to be in on the premieres of Aakash Odedra‘s two new works Inked and Murmur. Aakash is my new dance hero. Both pieces are beautiful, he is an amazing dancer. I know so little about dance I will embarrass myself by trying to explain it any more, but if was beautiful, mysterious and hypnotic and I loved it. Inked choreographed by Damien Jalet was my favourite, for its purity and resonances as much as anything. Murmur was more ambitious, breathtaking in moments, less great in others. Throughout the only unquestionable truth is that he is an amazing dancer.

Well done International Dance Festival Birmingham for bringing these pieces to us and for enticing such an international crowd to the premiere.

Billesley to Bausch

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

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Dance made my week last week. We spent five days with Year 5 in Billesley Primary School working on a big Space Project. This included recordings of astronaut interviews led by Craig, vast space maths led by me, building a grabber and a 1:1 scale model of the Apollo 11 command capsule with Johnny, design your own spaceship, research the planets and various other activities with their teachers. It was great to see the reaction the capsule got once a bit of lighting, landscape, music and smoke was added but for me the highlight of the week was their dance pieces. We claim no credit for these, the students devised them all before we arrived. They were brilliant, full of invention and wit, earnest attention and concentration, there was joy and charm and pride. My heart almost burst watching them. Continue reading “Billesley to Bausch” »

Domestique

Monday, February 17th, 2014

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Over the last couple of years I’ve read books about Bradley Wiggins’ triumph in the Tour De France, about Team Sky’s rise to dominance and about David Walsh’s dogged pursuit of the truth about Lance Armstrong. I’ve enjoyed them all – Walsh’s in particular was difficult to put down – but my new favourite is – Domestique by Charly Wegelius. Continue reading “Domestique” »

Re-Charge

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

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Mmmm the holidays are a time to get fed up. Not just fattened by rich food but also by ill disciplined cultural consumption. So the last two weeks have included:

Continue reading “Re-Charge” »

Hetain Patel

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

Two days ago I was early for a meeting at mac birmingham and so took the opportunity to watch the piece of video art they had looping just off their foyer space. To Dance Like Your Dad is a seductive diptych in which on the left hand screen an engineer gives a guided tour of the garage in which he customizes cars. On the right hand screen, the artist Hetain Patel, in an empty room mimics these actions. The camera movements are also matched up. The recreation sometimes matches perfectly and occasionally strays, its lovely.

Yesterday I was early for a meeting at mac birmingham and so took the opportunity to watch the piece of video art they had looping in the main gallery. The First Dance is a highly seductive projection with the image split into six narrow strips. In an elegantly paced unfolding you come to be shown the set up and execution of a moment from the film Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon alongside the original. The recreation sometimes matches perfectly and occasionally strays, I love it.

There were also great photographs and a multi-screen piece I regretted not having time to watch properly. Suddenly I regard myself a Hetain Patel fan, his aesthetic chimes with me.

Also last night I had the delight of introducing an eight year old to Laurel and Hardy AND Harold Lloyd on the big screen thanks to Flatpack. We zoomed to seats on the front row at Birmingham Cathedral so we could see John Sweeney in full flow providing live accompaniment from the piano. It was fantastic, the eight year old really enjoyed it but I suspect still doesn’t realize quite what an amazing treat it was.

We Hackett

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Saturday was a great day in which Birmingham nailed it. The Yarker team cycled through Summerfield park through autumn leave falls, wound our way to the Jewellery Quarter where we had a great fry up in the Warstone Stores which is currently our favourite caff. From there we peddled to the fantastic Library of Birmingham where we played the electric piano, and table tennis, admired the amazing views and architecture and glanced at some books. From there we wandered across the foyer to The REP and caught Ben Pacey’s engaging short animation Peregrine Bear’s Illustrated History of Bearmingham. Outside a team of motorcyclists showed off a series of spectacular jumps across Centenary Square. At Broadway Plaza we tried a bit of bowling.

Back at The REP we had a lovely time with Little Earthquakes wonderful mini-show Professor Harry Hackett’s Box of Treats. A trail of clues through the foyer lead you to a secret theatre show upstairs in which Graeme Rose delivers a wonderfully judged performance and Artistic Director Gareth Nicholls’ training in magic is deployed to spectacular effect. I’m not going to give more away but the whole piece from faux Italian popcorn seller to the grand finale are beautifully judged.

In high spirits we zipped over to Mailbox for some supper before weaving home on the pavements because we’d stayed out way longer than anticipated and all had become dark – now that is a proper way to spend a day in a Big City.

Hammer and Tickle

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

I’ve just finished reading Ben Lewis’ book Hammer and Tickle: The History of Communism Told Through Communist Jokes. It’s an engaging read and, as you would hope, contains lots of jokes, some of them funny and most of them sad. Continue reading “Hammer and Tickle” »

Sounding the River

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Last night, by elbowing aside wife and child, I was able to be the first member of the public to enter Sounding the River, the new environmental installation project led by Jony Easterby. mac has a proud history of commissioning such projects and this piece, which mostly follows the path of the river Rae upstream from the arts centre, marks the end of their Fiftieth Birthday Celebrations. As expected it’s a delight. Continue reading “Sounding the River” »

Legend of Mike Smith

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

I missed the press night for Soweto Kinch’s Legend of Mike Smith in The Studio at The REP / Library of Birmingham and I’m glad I did. That night must have been ‘an event’, celebrating both the birth of a show and a venue, I was pleased to be able to concentrate on the show, which I really enjoyed. Continue reading “Legend of Mike Smith” »

Dance & more Dance

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Having very much enjoyed Surtra – the Sidi Larbi/ Shaolin monk/Antony Gormley kung-fu/dance-fest at the Hippodrome last week I’m on the lookout for a bit more contemporary dance. With Pilot Night on Thursday night at our place and Friday nights domestically in demand I may struggle to get to Dan Canham’s Ours Was The Fen Country which is a shame as it sounds like an intriguing idea and worth checking out.


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