Gala Night, National Dance Company Wales

 

How lovely to dress up for a night out! Even lovelier to be asked to attend something as special as this: a Christmas Fundraising Gala for the National Dance Company Wales!

Guided into the dark, starry-lit heart of the school, its stage, we are invited to mingle before sitting at beautifully festive tables to watch the show. We are at the front of the stage, level with our hosts and muddled up with dancers, board members, sponsors, families and friends. It is delightful. It is the entirely predictable warm welcome from this Company which we all value so highly.

Now, this is a night with a purpose. A showcase of dancing wares to one end – to raise awareness and support for the dancers, their Company, their outreach work and their hopes and aspirations for themselves and others.

And so it begins.

Marc (Rees) compered the evening in tremendous style and humour. Caroline (Finn) and Paul (Kaynes) are  practised and fluent with the passion for their business they so want us to share. They say,

We have a responsibility to take dance across Wales, so as many people as                                    possible can experience what it is to dance.

They choose tonight to share with us –

The invisible work that we do, the beautiful and valuable work that we do.

They want to sustain and develop this work, react to people’s needs, make a difference and look after their dancers, keep them well for the hard work they do – and we get it.

We are shown videos, evidence of NDCW dancers working with children, adults, people living with Parkinsons –

I know it’s cheesy but dancing makes me happy.

Is there a finer accolade? One line tells us all we need to know. What these remarkable, dedicated people do benefits young and old alike. Speaking of young, we are now given a performance – This is a Really Difficult Interview, created by Karol Cysewski and performed by the NDCWales Associates.

It is 13 minutes of difficult and complex dance performed perfectly by a large group, aged between 14 and 19. It is not hard to see that nurturing the future talent in dance is worthy for many reasons but what is surprising, is that they demonstrate their professionalism and ability so comfortably.

I hadn’t expected anything so wonderful. I don’t know what to say. It’s so emotional

 – says someone next to me, clearly struggling with her responses.

It’s very competitive, says another, it’s very hard to get in, you know.                                                     Not enough boys, it’s harder for the girls. They are good, aren’t they?

Now, to make a difference, you can’t just tell people about things, you have to make them experience them too. And blow me, Lee (Johnson) has us all on our feet… some braver than others and on the stage while the rest of us toe tap around our chairs! What a hoot!

How clear it becomes that in dance there is activity, laughter, companionship and effort. A simple coordinated routine and we all feel on top of the world – and we all sit back down, renewed and ready to listen.

We are also here to learn about new projects. Andrew (Miller) and Marc (Rees) tell us about R17 and P.A.R.A.D.E. :

An immersive and radical reimagining of Ballets Russes’s 1917 Parade,

And it is to be a participative and flamboyant dance event through the streets of Cardiff to the stage of the Wales Millennium Centre to the glorious cacophony of Satie’s music. There will be Dr. Who, there will be Revolution at the Senedd, there will be oranges thrown.

This is a major collaboration between NDCW, WNO, WMC and the RCMD which marks the centenary of the Russian Revolution. Tickets are on sale now at https://www.wmc.org.uk/Productions/2017-2018/DonaldGordonTheatre/Parade/

Lastly, before the Christmas carousing closes the evening, we are treated to Animatorium. Ok, so I am biased. I saw this in rehearsal and on the pavement outside. I feel the inner thrill of recognition and anticipation. I am excited to see this again. I do not expect the reactions around me:

Ooh, I’ve gone all goose-pimply, says one, rubbing her arms and wiping an eye.

Cheesy, goose-pimply – this work is incredible; the work these dancers and their team do is incredible. Do not take my word for it – please go and see them, learn to dance with them, help them continue what they do best –and let them develop their influence, making people happy.

They do all this through public funding, supporters, sponsors and ticket sales; but you can help too:

In the New Year, NDCW will be launching LIFT, a new supporter scheme. Information will be available at  http://www.ndcwales.co.uk/en/about/support-us/our-current-supporters/ where other means of donating are available as well.

In the meantime, please get yourself a ticket. You won’t regret it.

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gala

Caroline Finn – Artistic Director

Paul Kaynes – Chief Executive

Lee Johnston – Rehearsal Director

Andrew Miller – Executive producer of R17

Marc Rees – Director and Curator of Contemporary Performance and Installation

 

Reviewed, Saturday, 2nd December, 2016

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