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Manchester theatre reviews

Dance: sampled

Dance: Sampled

at Lowry Theatre, Salford

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall February 2018


A whole day of dance with a showpiece main event, Dance:Sampled, included small dance presentations, shows and workshops to encourage and excite people into dance - in all its various and wonderful forms. There was everything from folk dancing workshops to clowning, hip-hop and flamenco, all happening in different spaces throughout the whole theatre building. The main house was given over to a rather long but extremely interesting presentation, which featured 7 short choreographies from different companies throughout the UK and beyond, showcasing different styles of dance.


We started with a piece from London-based dance company Uchenna Dance, which consisted of 9 black female dancers embracing their African roots in a hugely contemporary and Western way. This was called 'The Head Wrap Dances' and as they fused African rhythms with hip-hop beats, these head wraps became not only head gear but were used in a variety of ways, and the women danced of freedom and empowerment.


The second item on the programme was a solo dancer, and I last saw this dance performed on the TV as she was one of the grand finalists on the BBC Young Dancer Of The Year. A contemporary ballet piece infused with hip hop, this was Nafisah Baba performing 'Near The Place Where Your Feet Pass By'.


And so to traditional ballet as two principals from the Scottish Ballet danced their way through the Grand Pas-de-Deux from The Nutcracker. Performing with grace and elan were Bethany Kingsley-Garner and Evan Loudon.


A rather bizarre piece followed. Birmingham-based Humanhood danced a duet called 'Zero' which was devised in their own studio in Birmingham with the composer, the costume and lighting designer and all creatives present all the time to combine a totally osmotic and collaborative piece of contemporary dance.


The last piece before the interval was a real treat for flamenco lovers. Jesus Carmona, a traditionalist with a contemporary flair danced his way through 'Solea Del Campillo' aided by the talented guitarist Don Jurado and singer Juan Jose Amador.


After the interval and we saw a mishmash of hip hop and street dance with Far From The Norm's piece '60sec', followed by a very clever and beautiful piece of contemporary ballet from Scottish Ballet. Finally we finished with something which probably isn't dance, but certainly was choreographed... Gandini Juggling presented their piece, 'Smashed', a homage to the late great German ballet dancer, director and Contemporarist, Pina Bausch. Using 9 excellent jugglers, a choreographed and anarchic tea-party ensued starting off quite formally and sedately, and ending up with the performers pouring tea all over each other, throwing and squashing 80 apples, and destroying 4 perfectly good china tea services! It was fun and clever, but not sure what place it had in today's remit.


Overall though, a highly enjoyable performance. The one thing to spoil it was the blackouts and long waits between the acts. In fact the wait between the 4th and 5th acts was that long that many of the audience thought it to be the interval and left the theatre to get drinks. This resulted in the poor flamencoist performed to a theatre only partially full and had to contend with many people coming in through the dance excusing themselves as they did.


However, that being said, the event was a success in its aim to show us samples of different dance art forms; obviously some appealing more than others as is the nature of the beast. All were of an incredibly high standard and gave the youngsters in the audience something wonderful to aspire to.

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