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” »
Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category
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.
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.
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” »
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” »
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:
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.
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.
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” »