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Subject: "School Review: Images of Dance" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #1877
Reading Topic #1877
Bruce Madmin

15-07-01, 09:14 AM (GMT)
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"School Review: Images of Dance"
 
   LAST EDITED ON 15-07-01 AT 09:16 AM (GMT)

Images of Dance this year featured works by three people I admire greatly - Cathy Marston, Christopher Hampson and Wayne Sleep. I suppose itís not often you can say that two of the choreographers on display do diaries for you and that the third was a bloody good interview (even if through the haze of much white wine). But more - I have also admired Margaret Barbieri, Images Director, for her programming which often seems less school and more grown-up than many.

I saw the show earlier in the tour at High Wycombe, which was sadly not particularly full, and last Sunday at the Peacock where many of the ballet 'in-crowd' were out to see the schoolís students and all the new choreography.


Hampson's 'Song Without Words'
Christopher Hampson is a ballet man through and through - which makes him a little odd because so few young choreographers are wedded to a century and half's worth of tradition which the public so enjoys. What he knows how to do is reel out apparently effortless and harmonious movement: pointe shoeíd movement - yes please.

I find myself reaching for the same words I now use about Mark Morris and I see resonances in the way they trickle dancers out before us and across the stage, oh so pleasingly, happily and imaginatively and the looseness on display. Hampson respects balletís traditions and you need to be good to do what he asks but his is a choreography of touch and feel rather than steely magnificence. Itís dress-down-Friday ballet and you suddenly realise that the way you carry on the other 4 days is actually pretty stiff and starchy most of the time.

To Mendelssohn's piano piece of the same name, this was a good length and the young dancers were obviously enjoying it.

Cathy Marston's 'Rosemary for Remembrance'
A piece dominated by women and with the most impressive and striking start I've seen in ages. At curtain up 8 girls are scattered about the stage, longing and posing, bathed in pools of light and in flowing Romanesque dresses. Itís a mysterious start and reminded me of an Alma-Tadema painting, one of those which feature classical views of women in the most graceful of poses, wrapped in thought or expectation.

As the piece gets into its stride more girls come and go, the dresses turn into pants and action breaks out all over. Marston often has lots going on - too much to see in one sitting and itís all a way away from ballet (fine by me) with much use of the floor as an almost vital ingredient. Into all this enter some tall men (in way too short supply for all the girls) and things kick up a level with more tension and passion in 5 duets. The piece ends in a pose similar to the beginning except with the men included, but somehow nothing seems to have changed.

Afterwards I read the short note that says the piece is inspired by the relationship between Ophelia and Hamlet and Faureís Violin Sonata. Marston continues to produce good, thought-provoking work with strong dramatics echoing through.

Both the Hampson and Marston works were grown up pieces which stretched the young dancers but not impossibly so. But they would also look good I think if performed by mainstream companies.


Sleep's 'Scenes from the Wizard of Oz'
I struggled with Wayne Sleep's piece and my eyes glazed over after about 5 minutes - it had been a long day, I said at the time. Unfortunately this happened the second time I saw it as well!

You could have knocked me down with a feather if I'd thought a piece of Sleep would do that to me. Itís hard to think of a greater dance showman but this piece appeared incredibly flat. The story is pretty well known from the film but these are "scenes from..." and that's what you got, little snatches, with lots of scene changes and no joined-up narrative to be bound up in.

Everybody has a less than fertile day and this seemed Wayne's. A great shame because Sleep has such tremendous power and showmanship and, used effectively, he really can introduce new audiences to new things.


All up they were enjoyable nights and full marks to Barbieri and Images for going for new work - a good decision and more please.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: School Review: Images of Dance Robert 15-07-01 1
     RE: School Review: Images of Dance Bruce Madmin 15-07-01 2
         RE: School Review: Images of Dance Robert 17-07-01 3

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Robert

15-07-01, 07:35 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: School Review: Images of Dance"
In response to message #0
 
   I am going to see this show at Reading tomorrow(Monday 16th July).I look forward to it but am slightly apprehensive about the audience, I only booked yesterday and I am near the front of the circle. Thank you for the review.


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Bruce Madmin

15-07-01, 09:05 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: School Review: Images of Dance"
In response to message #1
 
   Do drop back and give us your thoughts - always nice to have a variety of views! Hope you enjoy the performance


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Robert

17-07-01, 11:01 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: School Review: Images of Dance"
In response to message #2
 
   Images of Dance 20001 Tour Hexagon Theatre Reading. 16 7 01
Why do we go to see ballet? Some people make themselves poor and miserable trying to see The Kirov, others trail all around the country by train and car even visiting Birmingham in the hope of seeing interesting ballet. Is it the dancers or is it the choreography or is it the music? Perhaps it is a combination of some of these. Images of Dance run by Margaret Barbieri tours the country showing its students dancing and presumably hoping that they will get work with other companies. It also persuades choreographers to produce or lend ballets to it. This summer the have short ballets by Christopher Hampson, Cathy Marston and Wayne Sleep an interesting range of choreographers. Unfortunately the music is canned but it is all decent music. I am very tired of modern dance to no music, or even offensive sounds. In olden times even if the dance was crap you could just sit and listen to the music.
I was not really set alight by Christopher Hampstonís Song without words danced to Mendelssohn. It looked good and was well danced by all the company but it was just a set of variations with quite interesting choreography but nothing to bind them together.
I did not expect to like Cathy Marstoní rosemary for remembrance. I saw her recently at the Constant Lambert afternoon at the Clore upstairs, and was not over impressed. I thought Ďrosemary for remembranceí (no caps!) very good with fascinating choreography and a strong emotional feel, that replaced the plot that I so hoped for. The entry of tall dancers on point and in shorts seemed almost surrealist in conception. A very interesting well-danced ballet.
Bruce did not like Wayne Sleepís Wizard of Oz, but the small children behind me laughed and asked questions about it all the time. (Please note, I did not mind!) The story is very interesting as is the author and it had not been adapted for dance with any real understanding but it was fun and it had good dances and it appealed to children and ordinary folk, not just us jaded balletomanes. If Wayne Sleep could re read the book and spend some time on the choreography it could be excellent, perhaps a Christmas alternative at Covent Garden, using the RB school as Munchkins (a chance for them t to dance). Unfortunately one does compare it with the film and its wonderful dance sequences with the amazing Ray Bolger, but it could be done, and the ballet world really does need an alternative to the general misery and movement choreographers such as Wayne MacGregor and Ashley Page and the deceased Jeremy James.
I was upset that the audience was so small, a few mums with little ballet girls some young families a few ethnic minorities and a sprinkling of OAPs, and it hardly cost anything. Where were the rest of you? Broke after shelling out so much for the Kirov or just uninterested in the unknown? It is a shame as with an audience it would have been a good night at the ballet.
I sat just in front of Adam Cooper, which is ironic, as I had to give away my tickets to his sell out performance at Exeter the previous weekend as I was in hospital. Looking at the programme he is Director of the Boys, if the dancing is anything to go by he does a good job, but then the girls much more numerous and two thirds oriental did pretty well too!


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