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Subject: "Review: Diversions - Stourbridge Town Hall - 03/11/2000" Archived thread - Read only
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #1038
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06-11-00, 12:24 PM (GMT)
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"Review: Diversions - Stourbridge Town Hall - 03/11/2000"
   Diversions, The Dance Company Of Wales, came to the heart of the black country with their performance at Stourbridge Town Hall. A very appreciative audience were there; "It's so nice to be able to walk to an evening like this" said one goer. Stourbridge is not known for being a cultural centre; mind you I did see the band All About Eve there a few weeks ago, and Cwmni Ballet are playing there soon, so maybe I am being a little harsh.

Two pieces were presented, "The Collector of Movements" and "Constellation". The first piece is based around nine movements, although I only found eight, representing "the essence of an individual collection of movements, images and sensation".
The piece starts with a solo male standing centre stage, while the other dances run back and forth across. By the third crossing this was starting to get very repetitive. Later this switches to the dancers throwing balls on and off stage.

Costumes are beige shirts and beige trousers and skirts. I remember thinking at the time the first piece looked very "beige" and I was getting very fidgety.

Part two is clearly set in a night club during the slow dance, three couples sharing the floor. Each couple have a show piece, all of which feature that old joke whereby someone places their hand on your head and hold you at arms length, so you can't punch them. I felt each pdd very similar. Again I was getting very fidgety.

Part three is a duet for two ladies and a helium balloon. This was full of large expressive gestures, with the two girls sharing the balloon, rather than competing for it. There was some nice use of the string entwining the body. The music for part four has a Latin-American feel and the piece reminded me of a carnival in Rio or similar exotic locale. I was very puzzled by the man sitting on the ladder with the red cloth, who I felt added nothing to this section. Costumes were the same beige outfits; I would have liked some colour since the music was very cheery.

Part five was the highlight. Four flats appear on stage, held by the dances standing behind. The flats are moved left and right to reveal dancers in ever changing static poses. This later changes to combinations of body parts appearing from behind the flat, while the rest of the dancer remains hidden. There was a lovely illusion of one of the dancers suspended horizontally. I don't know what image was being presented here, but it was nice to watch.

Part six bought the first real colour to the piece, as the dancers appear in ever increasing numbers, each carrying a pinwheel. These become flowers, clouds, butterflies, dogs on leads, motorbikes (maybe unicycles); I guess the audiences imagination control what they represent. I liked the moments when one dancer followed the line of the body of a colleague. Part seven is a male solo basically involving a lot of wobbly walking. I was getting fidgety again.

For part eight the flats made a welcome return, but with a different use. They remained static at the back of the stage before being dropped with a very satisfying thud. The backs are mirrored, leading to some interesting reflections from the ambient light. We are also treated to a little colour, as the dancers have placed coloured shirts under their beige ones, and they have donned red noses. The piece ends with a fade to black and the dancers remaining static. A long time went by before the audience realised it was over.

"Constellation is inspired by childhood memories of the night sky in the primitive Australian outback." I have deduced the choreographer (and founder of the company) Roy Campbell-Moore grew up in Oz, around the same time as this reviewer, the early 60s. Clearly he has different memories to me. I remember very high skies (they sky really is higher in Oz to Europe), black nights and bright stars. I remember long hot days wearing nothing more than bathers (swimming trunks) and thongs (flip flops).

There is scenery for this piece; boomerangs hang from the ceiling with a snake as featured in countless aboriginal drawings hanging from these. All are painted using the usual aboriginal dots. A camp bed is present on stage; an image of a night in the bush. The costumes are dull hues of brown, red and purple, and are reminiscent of the colours of the Oz bush. The scene is set and the look, although stereotypical, is correct for a piece inspired by Australia. Maybe this would be a good piece.

It opens with the dancers sitting on the bed engaging in some very silly and repetitive hand gestures. The soundtrack is just some annoying noises, especially a repeated baby laugh. While the piece has lots of movement and energy, it lacks coherence. Remove any one dancer and their absence would not be noticed. There is no link between the difference sections of the piece. There is nothing to convey the night sky in the dances. The Oz night sky is very beautiful; these dances are not.

The performers engage in some simple paired acrobalance; I know a little about acro as some of my friends do it professionally. I know dodgey technique when I see it; I could see the drop coming before it happened. One of the men does some very skilled hand walking; he is either a natural or he has practised long and hard. I would like to see more of this in a different context.

The dancers depart and we are left with a male solo; he is replaced by a female solo in the first of a bizarre series of costumes, a Romanesque gladiator tunic, with gold spangley shorts. Next comes a bare chested chap with 3/4 length hairy trousers. This did get a laugh from the audience, but haven't we seen this look before somewhere ? A chap comes in all in white, with a huge circular skirt attached to his costume. The others basically were tight fitting tops and shorts in blue, red or green. The most striking effect being the all white chap; as he pirouettes, the skirt spirals twice around his body. Here we finally have a reference to the sky in the form of twinkling lights on the back drop and a repeated phrase in the soundtrack; "your view of the sky depends on your attitude". Maybe I have a bad one.

Most, if not all of the dancers have had some ballet training (well to be in certainly looked like they did). Romain Guion executed some wonderful grande ronde de jambs en l'air, well above hip height. All the dancers are young and very good looking. I was especially taken with Yvette C Halfhide and Deborah Ford; both executing some lovely balletic movements. Many were done with flexed feet, which left me pondering if doing classical ballet with flexed feet is the only "innovation" that contemporary dance has to offer? The line and the look is lost.

One sentence review of the evening; liked most of the first piece, disliked the second and found the music tuneless and boring. Mind you, I am a classical ballet fan.

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