Contemporary dance meets Army life in free outdoor performances in Woolwich

Before it starts its UK tour at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe next month, Rosie Kay Dance Company is coming to Woolwich to perform a unique 25-minute outdoor version of 5 Soldiers on Friday 7 and Saturday 8 July.

As part of the GDIF festival strand All Roads Lead to Woolwich, the company will perform in the bombed out St. George’s Garrison Church opposite Woolwich Barracks, giving the work a site-specific poignancy.

5 Soldiers dance team resting during operation Solway Eagle

5 Soldiers explores the role of the body in warfare and the experiences that soldiers have, both mental and physical. When asked why she’s looking forward to presenting this re-working of the piece at Greenwich+Docklands International Festival, choreographer Rosie Kay said:

It’s such a pleasure to be bringing our unique version of 5 Soldiers to GDIF this weekend. We’ve done outdoor shows in past with 5 Soldiers; in the street, shopping centres, outside Army bases, but once I heard what the location was going to be I had a serious re-think. Dancing a work about war, in a bomb destroyed church has real meaning and power, and I think that can be reflected in the show.

I wanted somehow to capture some of the mystery and atmosphere of the full length show, and I wanted to have some of the sound-score. Because of this, I decided to do a totally new re-work, with a similar structure to the full length show, in three parts, and a bit more of the journey; from training and drill, to messing out in PT, to the thrill and fear of being in an alien and hostile environment and the threat of injury. I think we’ve achieved that, and there are moments of fun and beauty, and great music with Annie Mahtani’s sound-score, The Clash and Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater. I can’t wait to see how it looks in the church, and to see what it does to the work; I think it could be quite moving and powerful.”

Woolwich has a particularly rich military history, being home to numerous military establishments with stunning architecture. The Royal Artillery Barracks, which housed the Royal Artillery for nearly 300 years, shows off the longest Neoclassical façade in London. The Royal Military Academy at the south end of Woolwich Common also has an impressive façade, this time in Mock Tudor style. Despite its current grandeur, the Royal Military Academy initially gained the modest nickname ‘The Shop’ because of its first location in a converted workshop. Historic England now cites it as ‘one of the most important pieces of military architecture in the country”.

The Garrison Church of St George was hit by a V-1 flying bomb during the Second World War and only its shell remains today. Amazingly, several mosaics survived the bombing, the largest being an image of Saint George and the Dragon which was part of a memorial dedicated to Royal Artillery members who’d been awarded the Victoria Cross.

church

To prepare for the upcoming performances, the five dancers recently worked alongside the Army on three days of combat exercises deep in the Scottish countryside. For this, they joined Exercise Solway Eagle, involving members of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards who are soon to be deployed on an overseas peace-keeping mission.

Dancer Reece Causton, from Norfolk said

Talking to the troops and seeing them at work is incredibly valuable, it’s gold dust. As dancers we absorb it all, so the movements and the way they interact all comes out in our performance and gives a strong sense of realism.”

Here’s a clip of the dancers rehearsing in the studio today.

 

In previous years, 5 Soldiers attracted 5 star reviews from The Scotsman, The Herald and The Observer, as well as receiving a Special Commendation from the Royal Society of Public Health in recognition of its excellent contribution to arts and health practice.

Rosie Kay Dance Company has recently become one of Arts Council England’s newest National Portfolio Organisations, so come and see them in action this Friday and Saturday in Woolwich!

5 Soldiers will return to London in September with full hour-long performances taking place inside military venue Yeomanry House, presented in association with Sadler’s Wells.


St. George’s Garrison Church, Grand Depot Road, Woolwich, SE18
Friday 7 July, 1.45pm & 5.45pm
Saturday 8 July, 1pm & 5pm
Free & un-ticketed

Click here for details of how to get to St George’s Garrison Church

Click here to see what else is in store in Woolwich during the final weekend of Greenwich+Docklands International Festival

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.”

 new adventures 1

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

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.

Deaf Men Dancing - TEN 6

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.

Deaf Men Dancing - TEN 8

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

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!

Nuno Silva on ‘Soul of Fado’

Choreographer & Dancer
Soul of Fado – GDIF 2014 (June 20 & 21)
Soul of Fado is the sister show for A Darker Shade of Fado. Whereas the latter is more intimately poetic (for indoors), Soul of Fado is more explosive and dynamic (we’re also using fire to enhance the story visually).

 

fado5
When devising it I tried to concentrate mainly on the most important elements of the action: a love story filled with passion with a sinister twist, gorgeous contemporary dancing and live music (both the music and my singing are modern and original, inspired in traditional Fado).
A Darker Shade of Fado by Chris Nash

A Darker Shade of Fado by Chris Nash

When we started making the piece I dreamt a lot about it. And part of those dreams involved a portuguese poet (the wonderful Fernando Pessoa, now deceased), the Sandman comics, and a story about a forbidden love affair between a musician and a Moorish princess. Pessoa used to spend his nights writing standing up, creating heteronyms with the might of his pen. The Sandman inhabits the dreams of mere mortals, and the princess is transformed into a violin that her lover will play for all eternity.

A Darker Shade of Fado by Chris Nash

A Darker Shade of Fado by Chris Nash

I wanted to create a story filled with similar poetry, but this time instead of a pen, because I wanted to create a show about Fado, it would be a portuguese guitar. And inside the guitar a Spirit would reside (a malevolent and jealous Spirit of Fado!), coming out whenever the guitar is played.

A Darker Shade of Fado by Chris Nash

A Darker Shade of Fado by Chris Nash

I tried finding a portuguese guitarist here in the UK but it was proving a near impossible task (and although we had Arts Council funding, the thought of bringing a portuguese guitarist over from Lisbon was just a financial unrealistic dream because we were making a show from scratch, and their regular presence in rehearsals would be the ideal scenario) so I decided to get two (amazing) dancers who can also play the acoustic guitar. Little did I know that, half way through the rehearsal process, we all found out that they could also play the portuguese guitar (not as experts obviously, but enough for us to use the portuguese guitar instead of a normal acoustic one!). So now we have a show where dancers, apart from dancing, play the portuguese guitar and we have a fado singer who, apart from singing fado, also dances.
A Darker Shade of Fado by Chris Nash

A Darker Shade of Fado by Chris Nash

We’re poetically breaking traditions!

Sit Back, Hold Tight!

A blog written by Sarah Blanc, Artistic Director of Moxie Brawl, a fresh and currently all-female dance theatre company. ‘Sit Back’ evokes the spirit of the 1940’s through music, text and dance, this new dance theatre piece recalls the role of women at times of war.

photo by Bruno Rodrigues

I believe dance is for everyone so making and presenting work outdoors gives me a great opportunity to reach as wide and diverse an audience as possible.

Last year Moxie Brawl won the Gone In 20 Minutes 2013 Jury Prize following performances at over 5 festivals in the UK. Since then we have gained the support of Watermans, investment from Arts Council England and producing support from Candoco Dance Company (with whom I have been an Associate Artist for over 3 years).

Being part of GI20 was fantastic as we were able to learn how to adapt our work for the outdoors in a supportive way, gaining feedback along the tour. It was such an invaluable experience. I am excited that this year we have been able to develop the piece further with the help of all partners and festival presenters.

We used our 2 weeks of development time in the studio to go into more detail for certain sections of choreography and revisit costume, props and even the British Trollyebus Museum as part of our research.IMG_8473a

We worked with Mark Smith of Deaf Men Dancing to help make the piece more accessible for Deaf audiences and those with hearing impairments.

We have just returned from our first performances at Fetes Tour de la Blanche in Issoudoun, France and it is exciting to see audience reactions to our work and seeing it all come to life!

As a choreographer I have been so privileged to work with some gorgeous performers for Sit Back. First up is Lucy Starkey whose character Alice during the piece gets accepted to the Women’s Volunteer Service. Katie Cambridge, new to the moxie line up, plays Agatha whose fiancé is away at war and constantly dreams of his return. Josephine played by Kimberley Harvey is the most maternal of all the characters, constantly looking after everyone but during the piece she receives some devastating news. Winnie, played by Jenny Reeves, is younger more innocent and with her Dad being away in the war working as a doctor, she wants to follow his footsteps and study medicine.

It has been such a great few weeks and we are more than buzzing to get this show on the road. Looking forward to seeing you along the way at GDIF and hope for you to meet Alice, Agatha, Josephine and Winnie- four trolley bus clippies working in London of 1942.

Hold Tight Please!

—–

Show time:

Sat 21 June 14:05, 17:10
Sun 22 June 13:15, 15:00
Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, SE10
FREE (Runs approx. 20 mins)

Click here to watch the highlights of Sit Back at Gone In 20 Minutes.

Explore love relationship with HURyCAN

Spanish company HURyCAN’s stunning duet Te Odiero represents the meeting point between love and exasperation, which boost love relationships and lead to sentimental ups and downs. A place where movements and desires clash with the clumsiness of the bodies they inhabit. Confrontation and union merge and the performers embark upon a dazzling dance that is both volatile and uniting.

We asked ourselves what does our fantasies look like when we live them out? We decided to experiment who we are, to search for the particularities, specific features that could bring us to actions and expressiveness.

How to build a concrete and physical language able to communicate with humor and emotion? We tried to draw our experience, as a living journey through love relation : different, similar, learned and invented. The unstable balance of an evolution process – a process of life.

te odiero 4

Burning our feet on a fiery blazing floor at midday, sinking under rain’s waterfalls at dusk, chock and caress, sometime nobody, sometimes not even a space left…  caching the attention of empty squares, bringing people almost from their homes, across their windows and balconies… or inventing a space to perform, between legs, shopping bags, pets and willchairs, when the thick crowd covers the hole stage.

Te Odiero is a place to coexist, a place where we cling to each other to survive, it is not always easy or pleasant, it is what it is : potential, limits, passion, exasperation, uncontrollable life.

SHOW TIME: 
Sat 21 June 15:50, 18:10
Sun 22 June 14:10, 17:25
Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, SE10
FREE (Runs approx. 20 mins)

Mimbre Joint Artistic Director Lina Johansson on ‘Bench’

Lina Johansson – joint Artistic Director for Mimbre, shares a little window into the process of creating Mimbre’s new performance Bench, coming to Greenwich+Docklands International Festival in London on 21-22 and 24th of June.

Photo by Mimbre

Photo by Mimbre

 

The idea for Bench started like a small simple idea – a set made as a park bench – allowing us to plant the show in the reality of where it is performed; in a park, a street or a square and use the theatre of our public spaces to inspire us for a series of sketches.

Photo by Marco Berardi

Photo by Marco Berardi

I knew I wanted it to reflect on the way we are among other people, and the way other people view you when in public. What assumptions do you make if you see a woman sitting on a bench on her own – do you assume she is waiting for someone? Do you think she is lonely? Who do we meet if we allow ourselves to be friendly to strangers? What do you see if you allow yourself to sit down on a bench and watch the spectacle of the street playing out in front of you?

Photo by Marco Berardi

Photo by Marco Berardi

Working with physical choreographies and using a devising process means that you don’t know from the start exactly which story it is that will carry through and have a resonance with an audience. The beauty is that stories starts to emerge that I didn’t even know myself that I wanted to tell.

Photo by Mimbre

Photo by Mimbre

Alcina Mendes created a beautifully, warm main character and Rebecka and Silvia explored a charade of different personae; flowing choreographies, dreamy fantasies and some very silly characters bringing some laughter and lightness.

Photo by Mimbre

Alcina Mendes; Photo by Mimbre

 

The acrobatic training is as of course always a big part of Mimbre’s rehearsals, with an hour long warm-up and strengthening session each morning and time for practising the acrobatics tricks both in the rehearsals and in the weeks in-between rehearsals; to find new tricks and to keep existing ones safe. For Bench our acrobatics coach Adrian Porter and my joint Artistic Director Silvia Fratelli trained up our 2 new Mimbre members; Alcina Mendes and Rebecka Nord. Finding trust, safety and confidence with the new tricks is time-consuming but is part of the physical language we use for our shows and I am as always enjoying the exploration of the ins and outs of where the physicality meet the theatre, the thrill versus the story, the physical versus the emotive impressions.

Photo by Marcos Avlonitis

Photo by Marcos Avlonitis

Through Alcina’s careful exploration of the main character the first rough run-through held a lot of loneliness and sadness. Impressions of how being surrounded by other people can sometimes make you feel more lonely then if you’re just on your own. Which led us to look for scenes of belonging, of happiness and celebration, to compliment without taking away from the atmosphere found. This led us to discuss friendships and belongings, what it is that drew us into circus and performance and what that world symbolises for us, and we used some of these conversations as inspiration for our celebratory and warmer finale choreography. As part of the rehearsal process we did several informal sharings where we invited friends and colleagues to see the material we had created so far and we also did a preview/premiere of the shows at the Crossing the Creek event at Laban Theatre and Greenwich Dance – who commissioned the show – in April.

Photo by Marcos Avlonitis

Photo by Marcos Avlonitis

Everything changes as soon as you put it in front of an audience and it helps me as a director to see it through other eyes (I normally watch the audience more than the performers at these occasions). Seeing the audiences reaction, hearing people’s feedback and get a little bit of distance to the rehearsal room gives a clearer view of what work is still needed or any structural changes to how the show hangs together.

Photo by Mimbre

Photo by Mimbre

From this we have decided on some dramatical changes and Bench is now getting ready to go off on a tour in it’s appropriate setting – around various outdoor theatre festivals around UK and Europe and of course coming to Greenwich+Docklands International Festival in London in June. I am very excited about allowing the show to take on it’s own life and paths, for me a show only really exists once audiences have had their chance to start to influence the shape of the performance and the energy of the performers and I am looking forward to see how it will be further influenced by the lovely audience at GDIF.

Photo by Mimbre

Photo by Mimbre

Last but not least a big thank you to the great artistic team who helped to make Bench; guest choreographers Natasha Khamjani and Anna Llombart who brought some fresh and different flavours to our movement. Michalis Kokkoladis for designing a genuinely old and knackered looking Bench that in reality is super sturdy and can be flatpacked! Ted Barnes who as always have woven a stunning musical score for us, binding all the different paces and atmospheres together. Last but not least, designer Kasper Hansen and maker Sophie Bellin who sourced 20 costumes for the different characters that the performers are changing between through the show….

Photo by Mimbre

Photo by Mimbre