Rhythm is a Danza!
By Dark Clerk . Photos by Philip Rhodes
I'm shouting in a gallery, I'm shouting in a gallery, just one of the many taboos that dancer/performer Ellen Turner broke at Danza! in Hull.
Ellen delivered an outrageous finale, to a rip-roaring third annual Danza! the Contemporary Dance event this year gravitating from Fruit to the Live Art Space at Ferens Gallery.
Whereas live music in the city and theatre is enjoying a popular resurgence, dance is still under-represented in the city. Many who study dance at Hull College are forced out of the city to pursue their careers due to a lack of provision.
Danza! aims to respond to that lack and encourage local dancers to become involved in dance activity within the city, by providing free workshops and a choreography project lead by Jo Ashbridge and open to application by local and regional dancers. This year Danza! showcased seven different companies including Leeds, Manchester and London based artists. Also featured was a dance Premiere by Dance Offensive choreographed by Paul Sadot. Carcharodon was a serious composition sound tracked by a recording of Ezra Pound.
The performance would have worked better with perhaps a raised stage; some of the composition was floor work, some of which could be obscured by the audience sitting in the cabaret setting. There is a film of this new work, and maybe some of the recorded footage could have been combined with the live action to allow audiences to fully appreciate the work. That being said, it was enjoyed by all: a very physical piece with gymnastics and athleticism that was indeed breath-taking.
This piece summed up something of the Danza! ethos, the mixing of genres and art-forms, in this case spoken word and dance composition.
The other element that is central to Danza! is dance-theatre. Subtle changes in movement and mood, narrative arcs that rise and fall, as in the compelling sequence danced by the four girls in floral print dresses, choreographed by Jo Ashbridge. Hull dance company, Non-Applicables chose the TV game show for their fast paced
satirical look at society's' ills. Different rounds with each playing contestant and compére had the audience in fits of laughter.
The Non Applicables, a young innovative company, are doing exciting and hugely entertaining crossover work that other theatre-makers in Hull will ignore at their peril.
The audience arriving at the Ferens for Danza! tonight were greeted with a red carpet moment, the strange sight of #Visitors; a plastic pop band standing motionless in the foyer. So still were #Visitors that some had to look twice to make sure they were real and not mannequins.
Having listened to local interviews and followed #meetthevisitors on Twitter, I was hoping to be wowed by BikiniGirl5, GiftFromGod4, OTT3, Madame Pleasure2 and TeenIdol1. There can be no questioning the attention to detail; glamour nails, purple hair, buff bodies and the gold lamé swim wear. But I'd hoped for more from #Visitors by Jordan Massarella Dance. I wanted more of a story, I wanted to know more about the faux band members.
I appreciated the piece was sending up society's obsession with celebrity and the pop puppets that serve only to sell product, and are as empty and vacuous as the promises of the cynical Svengali controlling them.
Perhaps this was just a snapshot of a larger work to be developed over the coming year.
If #Visitors wasn't as satisfying as I'd hoped, The Mustdashios more than made up for it with their sketch based performances. The beach scene was a lesson in timing and physical comedy.
The most bizarre moment of the night came when the two characters lumbered on stage, moving like lunar explorers, kitted out in silver spacesuits and football helmets. One carrying the other on her shoulders, they moved very slowly across the performance space to the sound of an Antarctic blizzard.
Then, pausing in the centre, they produced instruments and proceeded to play 'Funky Town' on xylophone and kazoo. The Mustdashios are something else. Really off the wall but brilliantly inventive and hilariously funny.
The night closed on the show-stopper, and I don't use that term lightly. The show-stopper that is Ellen Turner. She, almost apologetically, walked across the stage and began arranging various objects on a table, for a number of uncomfortable minutes.
Then, with a nervous look to a bemused crowd, the slight figure announced that she didn't do beginnings very well...resulting in more murmurings of concern from the audience.
Ellen introduced her performance which she calls Car-Door Moment, by explaining her desire to do those forbidden things that the mischievous voice inside us all tempts us with in our daily lives - taboos restricted through societal norms and values, common sense or something more rigid.
What follows has to be seen to be believed, and as Ellen is currently in Edinburgh (with The Mustdashios), I won't spoil it with a big reveal. However her playbill might read... 'Ellen Turner utterly outrageous insane! Incredibly subversive and powerful performance theatre.'
With Danza! and Jo Ashbridge curating, choreographing and flying the flag for dance, supporting emerging dance companies, Hull can expect to see a lot more dance in the city as it builds on its City of Culture short listing.
Jo Ashbridge's dancers will next be performing at the Freedom Festival on 6th September 2013.
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Just spent an hour dipping in and out Day and Night in the Damaged Goods Factory by Mike Watts. Always did like his style - no words wasted, tight and sparse. Controversial at times but always readable.
Really enjoyed. Another good 'un Mike.
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It was an evening of poetry
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