Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures to perform at GDIF

This post from Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures is the first in a series of guest posts from companies and artists performing at GDIF 2017. Enjoy!


Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures are very excited to be performing at Greenwich+Docklands International Festival on 1 July.

We will be performing an adaptation of Country from Town and Country which has been touring as part of Matthew Bourne’s Early Adventures since February 2017. Early Adventures is a collection of hit pieces that launched Matthew’s career and first toured in 2012, as part of our 25th year anniversary. This year it has toured to celebrate 30 years of New Adventures and we’re looking forward to giving even more people a chance to see Country.

new adventures 2Country is the second part of Town and Country, first created in 1991 and where we in fact received our first Olivier Award nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Dance. Moving and hilarious, this heartfelt pastiche explores notions of national character from a bygone era, through the evocative music of Percy Grainger. With an unforgettable clog dance and recognisable images of rural Britain, Country is a much-loved piece of Matthew’s. Quintessentially British, Country portrays all the quirky characteristics of Brits in the countryside, drinking tea, milking cows, sowing seeds and farm life with the intense wildness of the English moors.

In conversation with Alastair Macaulay, renowned dance critic, in his book Matthew Bourne and his adventures in dance, Matthew said:

“although it’s very frivolous at times and I was much less mature when I made it – by the end I am much more moved. I feel very, very connected to all the things in that piece. I’m like that now when I watch it on video, and was like that in 1991 when I was dancing it. I wasn’t on in the last section, and I would stand in the wings, and always shed a little tear. I love the music so much, as well.”

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During the Early Adventures tour a Spotify playlist of the music that is inspired by the world of the production was put together with Matthew.

You can listen to it here: http://new-adventures.net/early-adventures/news/early-adventures-spotify-playlist

What the critics say:

★★★★★ “Unmissable” THE OBSERVER

★★★★ “A witty delight” SUNDAY TIMES


See Country at Dancing City on Saturday 1 July 
Westferry Circus, Canary Wharf

Performance times 2.20pm and 3.45pm

Stu Mayhew – on photographing GDIF

Hi and welcome to my GDIF2016 photo blog !

My name is Stu Mayhew and I am an amateur photographer based in Greenwich where I help run Aperture Woolwich Photographic Society – one of the oldest camera clubs in the country. I have been photographing the Greenwich +Docklands International Festival for many years now and it’s always an honour to be asked back. In the build up to this year’s event I have been bust charging camera batteries, getting my memory cards sorted, cleaning lenses and dusting off my trusty GDIF Press and Media vest!

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The first event of this year’s GDIF took place at the Queen’s House in a specially commissioned show marking the 400th anniversary of this beautiful building right in the heart of Greenwich. The show consisted of digital projection onto the facia of the building, dance, music and narration by Sir Ian McKellen.

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I arrived at 8PM to allow myself plenty of time to talk to crew and production members about vantage points and so on, as well as to catch up with other GDIF photographers who I only get to see once a year. I spoke with Rebecca Brower, the costumes and scenic designer, and enquired into whether I could shoot the event from a platform on one of the lighting towers. A quick word with one of the riggers and I was up on my lofty perch with a perfect view over the whole crowd and production area. I set up my tripod, got my cameras (I shoot with two, a Canon 5D and a 6D) and watched the crowds gather below me. As dusk fell into night the show began – the front of the Queen’s House transforming in front of our eyes – the projections were amazing and there were dancers and a performance by Sharon D Clarke –  the whole show was transfixing. The finale was a cascade of pyrotechnics with fireworks shooting into the night sky. As smoke drifted over the audience a huge cheer went up and GDIF2016 was under way. I think it was one of the best opening nights of the festival that I can remember.

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GDIF2016 – Deaf Men Dancing

We’re highlighting some of the companies and performances scheduled for this summer’s festival. First up is an introduction to Deaf Men Dancing and their show TEN, written by Deaf Men Dancing’s Choreographer and Director Mark Smith

Deaf Men Dancing is an all-male deaf dance company with a fusion of different styles of dance incorporating British Sign-Language into movement. The essence of my work is to use sign language as an inherent part of the creative process and integrate it into the movement vocabulary, rather than use it as a commentary to the performance.

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The ideas I developed for TEN, were inspired by double acts like Laurel & Hardy, Flanagan & Allen, Morecambe & Wise, Abbott & Costello and Gilbert & George. I was also inspired by vaudeville & music hall acts.

When I was a kid, Charlie Chaplin was my idol. I grew up watching Chaplin’s films. The silent film format was accessible for me to watch because it was very visual and even had “subtitles” or just “titles” for me to read. That’s where I got the idea of getting the dancers to hold printed cards with text to the audience during the performance. While I was researching for TEN, I discovered that Chaplin was good friends with a deaf actor Granville “Red” Redmond, who appeared in Chaplin’s films. Chaplin admired the natural expressiveness of a deaf person using American Sign Language. Chaplin’s interest in Deaf Culture gave me the idea to incorporate a deaf awareness course into TEN but in the form of Ten Commandments.

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In the 60s, Gilbert & George famously created a live-art performance called Singing Sculpture where they stood on a table for eight hours. Gilbert held leather gloves & George held a walking stick. Their faces were painted in silver. They mimed to an old music hall song called Underneath The Arches – a song in which two tramps describe the pleasures of sleeping rough. It was a telling choice, harking back to prewar England and traditions of vaudeville, while also identifying with the fringes of society. Singing Sculpture gave me the idea for TEN. I’ve collaborated with designer Ryan Dawson Laight, who designed DMD’s previous outside performance, Alive!, and he’s designed a table for two dancers to perform on and deliver “speeches” to the audience in a form of Speaker’s Corner or Soapbox such as those that used to to be located on the corner of Park Lane and Cumberland Gate. The table is also a kind of Pandora’s Box, containing surprise props for the dancers to use for the performance.

I collaborated with deaf musician and composer Sean Chandler to develop ten different tracks and I was lucky to have sound designer Syd Funnell onboard to provide the soundscape for TEN.

Deaf Men Dancing will perform TEN at Greenwich Fair on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 June. Times & location tbc.

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Follow Mark Smith on Twitter @DeafMenDancing1
Deaf Men Dancing on YouTube
Deaf Men Dancing website

One Million Opening Ceremony

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GDIF Artistic Director

Bradley Hemmings

 

 

Tomorrow at 8.30pm, I’ll be sitting in a control box overlooking the Tyne and taking a deep breath, as the Opening Ceremony to the one millionth finish of the Great North Run gets underway. I remember back to two years ago in 2012, when Jenny Sealy and I were similarly poised, looking down at the crowds in the Olympic Stadium. It’s going to be an equally emotional and poignant night.

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This time, the Arena is even bigger than an Olympic Stadium. It has a tidal river running through it, alongside the most beautiful collection of bridges in the world, plus of course, the breathtaking Sage Gateshead, which, in the course of the show, will be transformed with groundbreaking video mapping. Some of the awe-inspiring behind the scenes production statistics reflect the Ceremony’s ambition: 248 glass panels on the Sage have been covered with vinyl on which 480,000 lumens of projection power will cover an area twice the size of Buckingham Palace. Twelve river vessels will take part, whilst the Millennium Bridge, (the world’s only tilting bridge) and Sir William Armstrong’s hydraulic Swing Bridge, will both be choreographed as part of the show. I’m therefore very fortunate to be working with one of GDIF’s longstanding production managers, the brilliant Gary Beestone, as well as Production Stage Manager, Sam Hunter, who has worked on countless Olympic and Paralympic Ceremonies.

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Large scale ceremonies like this don’t come around very often and so it’s been a big honour to have been invited to create and direct, particularly as the finishers of the Great North Run are every bit as inspiring as those Paralympic athletes were two years ago. I’ve been able to meet with many of them at our Volunteer Rehearsals, where I’ve been humbled by their commitment and pride in this pioneering mass participation sporting event, which in complete contrast to the Olympics or Paralympics is not about elite athletes, but running for everyone. It’s this inclusive and democratic spirit that lies behind the Great North Run and in creating this Ceremony which I very much wanted to celebrate. The ceremony boasts a world class creative team, including designer Jon Bausor, hotfoot from his recent success with the National Theatre of Scotland’s critically acclaimed James plays.

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It’s also been an amazing experience to work with Carnegie Award winning writer David Almond. When David and I first met in a bar overlooking the Tyne, we saw a salmon leap out of the river and the emotion of that miraculous moment seems to have found its way into the show. David’s beautiful script will be performed by Jill Halfpenny and Tim Healy, taking audiences on a spectacular time-travelling journey through the story of the North East, from the dawn of time to the one millionth finish which take place three days after the Ceremony on 7 September at South Shields. An astonishing and suitably epic score for the Ceremony has been created by Ivor Novello award winning composer Dan Jones, performed by the Royal Northern Sinfonia with spectacular architectural film projections onto the Sage Gateshead from BAFTA award winning film maker Tal Rosner.

The Lords of Lightning

The Lords of Lightning

 

And throughout, at the heart of the Ceremony, will be a cast of hundreds of volunteer performers who have been inspiringly led by Mass Movement director Nathan Curry. With Ant and Dec welcoming the crowds, and featuring musical performances from Sting, Mark Knopfler, Mercury Music Prize nominees The Unthanks and platinum-selling drum’n’bass Chase and Status, together with Glastonbury favourites Lords of Lightning and Alchemy Fireworks, September 4 will be a night to remember. The Ceremony will also be screened on BB2 on Sunday 7 September as part of the coverage of this year’s Great North Run Millionth Finish event. The countdown begins!

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Arka Photo Blog – Stu Mayhew

So I had spent an enjoyable, if occasionally wet, day in Canary Wharf it was time to get home and charge my batteries. My camera batteries naturally ! I made the short trip from where I live in Shooters Hill down to Artillery Square in Woolwich where Teatr Osmega Dnia would bring and end to GDIF 2014 with Arka.

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

This Polish theatre group began their performance amongst the large gathered crowd, winding their way up on to the main stage. It looked like a wedding celebration but was soon interrupted by a military invasion symbolised by fire eating men who being wheeled through the square on wood and metal contraptions spitting flames high into the night sky, drawing cheers and gasps from everyone.

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

Meanwhile the stage had turned into a scene of huge burning windows , silhouetting the crowd. This large flaming structures were then moved through the crowds and the scene was strange yet beautiful to behold.

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

The performance is about war and refugees being displaced from home. It was quite a moving piece and visually captivating. GDIF has really discovered Artillery Square as a great performance venue and bring the Arts right into the the center of Woolwich has to be applauded, there is always a really big, highly appreciative crowd and tonight was no exception

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

As a huge ship gently sailed into the crowd the show ended and the curtain was closed on GDIF 2014. It is a real privilege to be apart of it, in my own small way. Over the years I have met many of the performers and photographers and its nice to see old faces. A massive effort goes into to bringing such a prestigious event to Greenwich Borough and long may it continue.

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

If you live locally and enjoy photography or want to learn how to get more out of your camera then visit http://www.woolwichphotographic.com and find out more about Greenwich’s award winning camera club!

See you next year

Stu

Stu Mayhew’s Photo Blog: Dancing City

Dancing City Blog from visiting photographer Stu Mayhew

Saturday the 28th June and it’s off to Canary Wharf to see the many acts that make up GDIF 2014’s Dancing City. This free event attracts performers from all around the world. With heavy showers falling I emerged from Canary Wharf tube station and was given a revised timetable of events , luckily provision was made for performances to take place indoors so I made the short walk across Jubilee Plaza and into the West Wintergarden. First up were Hands Down from Company Chameleon. I had seen them perform in GDIF 2012 and this new routine was equally as good. The two male dancers push and shove each-other in this ground breaking dance depicting how men interact. The physicality of the performance was incredible and the bar was set high for the rest of the day

'Hands Down' by Company Chameleon; Photo by Stu Mayhew

‘Hands Down’ by Company Chameleon; Photo by Stu Mayhew

Next up was The Awakening by StopGap Dance Co. Four disabled and non disabled dancers gave a mesmerising performance with a dream like quality , a lot of the moves are repetitive and really captivating.

'The Awakening' by StopGap Dance Company; Photo by Stu Mayhew

‘The Awakening’ by StopGap Dance Company; Photo by Stu Mayhew

Next a venue chance and it was off to Jubilee Place Mall. Surrounded by unsuspecting shoppers a stage was built right in the middle of the mall and as I arrived Laterite, choreographed by Thomas Micheal Voss, was thrilling the crowd with an intense routine of Tango accompanied by soprano supreme Eliana Pretorian. It was a beautiful performance.

Laterite by Thomas Michael Voss; Photo by Stu Mayhew

Laterite by Thomas Michael Voss; Photo by Stu Mayhew

Next on stage were Compania Sharon Fridman’s ¿Hasta Donde? which was very modern and again the skill and physical strength of the performers was jaw dropping. I confess to not seeing a lot of modern dance but what ever your views on it the dedication these performers must put in to perfecting these intense, intricate cannot be questioned. A bit hit with the crowd.

¿Hasta Donde? by Compañia Sharon Fridman; Photo by Stu Mayhew

¿Hasta Donde? by Compañia Sharon Fridman; Photo by Stu Mayhew

After many holidays to Spain I have a real soft spot for Flamenco and in for a treat when Marco Vargas and Chloe Brule performed Por Casualidad. In this fiery display of Flamenco the themes of unrequited love in brief moments and accidental meetings are explored. This one was a real foot tapper.

Por Casualidad by Marco Vargas and Chloe Brule

Por Casualidad by Marco Vargas and Chloe Brule

I ventured back outside and in between showers performers with Big Dance were strutting their stuff. The Big Dance features hundreds of talented young dancers and youth dance companies and the inclement weather certainly hadn’t dampened their enthusiasm.

Big Dance; Photo by Stu Mayhew

Big Dance; Photo by Stu Mayhew

Closing the curtain on the day’s events was Circ Panic The Man Who Lost His Buttons. Combining the silent comedy of Chaplin and the skills of a circus performer against the backdrop of the Thames and the City beyond this was a show stopper of an act. In a constant battle of wits against a contraption made up of a large pole and backed by a live band , this gravity deifying act drew gasps from those watching. A great way to end a fantastic day. Next up was Arka later that evening.

The Man Who Lost His Buttons by Circ Panic; Photo by Stu Mayhew

The Man Who Lost His Buttons by Circ Panic; Photo by Stu Mayhew

Dancing City Photo Blog by Dave Flynn

Gallery

This gallery contains 8 photos.

Photo blog from GDIF2014 Photo Ambassador Dave Flynn  

Chris Pavia of StopGap on Outdoor Dance

Chris Pavia
The Awakening choreographer StopGap Dance Company 

Credit StopGap Dance Company

Credit StopGap Dance Company

I’ve had a lot of experience doing outdoor arts because I’ve performed with Stopgap Dance Company in SPUN Productions and Tracking both of which were part of GDIF. I learnt from this experience that it’s important to make dance material actually outside and not in a studio because we have to get used to the gravelly concrete floor, the sun in our eyes and the wind in our faces.

Credit StopGap Dance Company

Credit StopGap Dance Company

And the atmosphere of the outside is different to working inside. All of these things change the way we dance. We also have to think about the audience and how they surround the performance. The dancers can be seen at all times in the outdoors because there are no wings.

Credit StopGap Dance Company

Credit StopGap Dance Company

 

But the audience being so close is exciting because I get to see their faces and I get to interact with them. It’s harder to do this in theatres where it’s dark, and I enjoy being close to the audience when I perform.

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Check out StopGap Dance Company in ‘The Awakening’ at Dancing City!

Inside Out

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Artistic Director, Tiata Fahodzi

For a mostly building based company like Tiata Fahodzi, the making of Hamba, our first outdoor show, has very much been the ultimate ‘back-to-basics’ challenge. The bricks, tricks and mortar of theatre buildings offer a degree of certainty: audience there, actors here, share a drink over there.

Outside on the street you are literally and figuratively at the mercy of the elements; yes, there are codes and understood rules of engagement but there
is no guarantee that they are espoused and respected in the same way by everyone else.

The fundamental need of the performer in this zone however is the same: to demand, engage and hold the attention of an audience. So how do I move someone to
tears as they run to catch the bus or chat or daydream? For us the answers began with questions from within: what makes you stop/ turn your head/ pay attention/ engage in the park/street/bus/motorway tailback etc.? When a car backfires or tyres screech, we react viscerally. There is something unguarded and honest in it.

In other words, the more honest and unapologetic the subject or object is the more likely we are to pay attention. The Proscenium Arch of a theatre justifies our  great and magical games of complicit make believe; doing so in your local park or high
street demands that you justify yourself! In other words the concept of certainty has to come from within.

This was our cue to buckle down and tell the story honestly, openly, enthusiastically and with integrity. Storytelling, make-believe and theatre existed long before the West End. Architecture, technology and lyricism never trump the truth: a good story, told with invention doesn’t need a huge budget to work. Now is our time to be honest and courageous and hope you are transfixed!

Catch The Legend of Hamba one more time tonight (Thursday, June 26) at 8:30 at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as part of Global Streets

Safe House – A place to call home

By Andy Cooper, Director at Draw & Code

After premiering to a crowd in excess of 5000 in Brighton, Safe House will be travelling to the Greenwich+Docklands International Festival on June 21st. The show is a large-scale, outdoor theatre event that explores our relation to the home – which is ironic considering just how little time the cast and crew have spent in our own homes recently!

With projection-mapped animations that feature during every one of the 45 minutes of the show’s duration, the ‘Draw’ side of Draw & Code were kept very busy indeed in the run-up to this fantastic outdoor theatre event. We were required on site during rehearsals to tailor our animation to the needs of the performers from Wired Aerial Theatre Company and the producers from Metro Boulot Dodo. While animation is always time-consuming, it doesn’t often result in you travelling the country!

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The rehearsals were staged in Leicester, Metro Boulot Dodo’s home town, where the disused Haymarket Theatre was about the only building we could find that was capable of fitting the giant set. This oversized creation stands a lot taller than a real house, which makes for quite a challenge for the dancers who are suspended from it.

When I set off to take up residence in Leicester I decided to take the office iMac with me on the train. After all, what if the laptop isn’t enough? If you’ve seen a photo of somebody with an iMac on a train and gone “really?” – it was probably me!

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Rehearsals were draining, but a physically and logistically challenging production like this cannot leave any stone unturned. Thankfully it’s always fun working with the spectacular Wired Aerial performers. They are part athletes, part artists and we have enjoyed seeing them interact with our animations.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing though; having upped sticks from our Liverpool sanctuary, for much of the time I was Draw & Code’s sole representative in the chilly theatre while they could all head back home to Liverpool. The rehearsals began during the tail-end of the winter – in a venue that had no heating. It’s fair to say that an abandoned theatre lacks a few creature comforts!

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The contrast between the first day of rehearsals in a dingy abandoned building and the public premiere of Safe House in sunny Brighton was amazing. As we sat in amongst the barbecues on the grass of Hove Park it was the first time in a long time that I could relax, although the cast and crew will have been tense.

The show went without a hitch and the crowd loved it. We hope you can leave your own little castles for a few hours, wherever you are, and join us to watch Safe House!

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Safe House will be performed at Greenwich+Docklands International Festival 2014 on Saturday June 21st at 10PM in Mile End Park, Tower Hamlets.