Stan's Cafe: One looks, marvels and understands

Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Good Things

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

Sometimes it happens, rarely, but sometimes it does; you get to see a whole run of shows you enjoy, one after the other. I’m privileged to currently be on one of those runs. Continue reading “Good Things” »

Love and Loss at BE Festival

Friday, June 24th, 2016

teaser – Vacuum from Philippe Saire on Vimeo.

What a piquancy of timing. BE Festival on 23rd June 2016. Theatre shows from Spain, Switzerland, UK and Italy. Nothing more can be done. The future is unknown. Us, swilling together in this heterotoic space, acting out in microcosm the broader drama. Continue reading “Love and Loss at BE Festival” »

Corali Dance

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Corali Sadlers Wells – Trailer FINAL from corali dance company on Vimeo.

Sometimes things would be a lot easier if we lived in London: like keeping up with the work of Corali. This trailer shows a recent piece which looks beautiful and reminds me how shamefully long it has been since I last saw their work live. Please give it a view, it will brighten up your day.


Friday, April 3rd, 2015

Ava's Wedding Scene 3 pic

So, finally the great tour of The Cardinals is over. The team have dispersed in various directions, the set is in a shipping container wending its way home and a friend on Facebook asks “is that the last ever performance?” The answer is “who knows – we hope not” because now days we regularly get the chance to see shows we had once imagined where gone, never to be seen again. Continue reading “Repertoire” »

Pif-Paf Whoosh

Monday, August 18th, 2014


I have just spent a somewhat ill-judged couple of days in a field. Fortunately, just as I was starting to drown in the mire Pif-Paf sailed to my rescue. The company had spent a few days @ A E Harris way back in November 2011 working on a show which I am sure was going to be called something else but must have eventually became Something To Hold.

The show was perfectly judged for this family festival environment. The children were instantly enchanted by two sprite-like beings who evoked the wonder of stardust. Then the music kicked in and the running and spinning started and I couldn’t help but be enchanted.

Performed without words around a large gyroscopic contraption part telescope, astrolabe and ship the piece is has a great spinning energy. The narrative is tight enough to give a dynamic sense of direction and lose enough to accommodate interpretations and diversion. As I read it a ship’s captain / navigator is charting the stars and his route, is swept around and lost in a storm, haunted by sirens / sea spirits who he wrestles. He is subsumed and beaten. He is rescued and abandoned – something like that, but it doesn’t matter. The piece is performed with verve and focus, the music drives it on and takes it places. There is a fantastic sequence with ropes becoming a bull’s head on the sailor. The piece is choreographed by Motionhouse‘s Kevin Finnan and the teaming of him and Pif-Paf seems to work extremely well. It was twenty glorious minutes in weekend mild aesthetic torment.

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


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” »


Monday, February 17th, 2014


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” »


Saturday, January 4th, 2014


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.

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