Category Archives: Dance

Interview Jukebox Collective

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With the exciting news that Jukebox Collective have recently become a new Regularly Funded Organisation funded by Arts Council Wales. As well as supporting their young dancers to perform in Groove on Down the Road at the Wales Millennium Centre. Young Critics Wales project coordinator Guy O’Donnell caught up with Liara Barussi, Company Director and Zoe Munn, Development Manager to discuss the companies past present and future plans.

 Hi both, thanks for taking the time to chat,  firstly can you tell me about the background of Jukebox Collective?

Jukebox Collective is a creative company based in Cardiff, focused on the delivery of the highest quality street dance education, performance and consultancy. The creation of Jukebox in 2004 was a reflection of the increase in demand, as well as the need to provide an outlet for some of the most talented young dancers in the UK.  Over 10 years since its creation, we still keep the core emphasis on nurturing fresh young talent up to professional level, as well as producing high-class work for stage and screen.

The Jukebox mission statement is – “Founded on the principle of excellence in street dance being a right for all, our mission is to inspire, create and educate through street dance and hip hop culture”.

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Thanks I wonder if you can tell us how you apply this in practice?

We apply this through the development of a multi-strand approach: Participate, Theatre, Creative Services and The Academy. The approach developed is based on a deep knowledge of the dance forms taught with a growing understanding of the different avenues for dance. By bridging the gap between community and professional work, we provide the platform to support talent from grassroots through to professional. We continue to work with respected industry artists to inspire dancers and support our vision of excellence and education being accessed by all.

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The company has its own premises and has held events like the Social Saturday’s can you tell us more about the intention behind these events?

Jukebox is all about sharing and exchanging dance, and these events are needed to create a sense of community within what we do. It’s important to keep an open door and have free public events so that anyone can access what we do.  We want to get people together, to enjoy and exchange, to have fun and to explore something different. We want people to leave with memorable experiences and a taste of what dance can bring to them. These events allow us to reach out to new people, introduce dance styles that may be unfamiliar, and to showcase that street dance forms are a vibrant and vital part of the cultural narrative and to local communities. The get together’s are also a chance to encourage collaboration between dancers as well as with other art forms.

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Liara you and Jukebox Collective have been very involved in the annual Breakin’ the Bay Weekend at the Wales Millennium Centre. It appears the WMC have been very supportive of Hip Hop culture. I wonder could you tell us more about your relationship with the WMC and involvement in this event?

Yes, I have been involved in curating the festival since its creation, over 10 years ago. We support Breakin’ the Bay to enable the Welsh dance community to become internationally recognised, as well as educating, inspiring and connecting them with other dancers across the world. This year we focused on sourcing some of the freshest national & international talent in Europe including dancers from France, Switzerland, Germany, Holland & Sweden. Jukebox’s reach on the International Hip Hop scene has attracted dancers from around the world to spectate and participate in the annual event. It’s the perfect opportunity to celebrate Hip Hop culture and all its diversity and bring it to the center of Wales. This year we also introduced a new “Experimental’ category, not only specific to this event but to the local dance community. This was very exciting and showcased a dynamic approach to street dance fusion.

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Arts Council England have invested funding in Breakin Convention which takes place at Sadler’s Wells and companies such as Zoo Nation to support their touring. We note that Jukebox company members have just been involved in Zoo Nations ‘Groove on Down the Road’ (which also forms part of Cardiff Dance Festival) at the WMC 13-22 Nov. Could you tell us more about your involvement in this performance?

It’s great to see not only Arts Council England but also the theatre venues across the UK welcoming street dance and making it available to mainstream audiences.  The involvement gives further opportunities to local youth to develop professionally and consider a career in street dance theatre. The Groove on Down the Road production features Jukebox Collective dancers – Jo-el Bertram, Shakira Ifill playing ‘Little Wiz’, and Renee Brito playing ‘Wicked Witch of the West’. We are delighted to participate and work in collaboration with Zoo Nation.

Arts Council Wales have recently named Jukebox as a Regularly Funded Organisation, congratulations! Can you tell us what led the company to apply?

Thank you! We applied as we felt with the support of ACW we could collaboratively grow the organisation to its full potential. Becoming a Regularly Funded Organisation provides us with more opportunity to produce creative work and to realise initiatives that support and celebrate talented creatives. We will also be able to plan further ahead and work more strategically. We are looking forward to developing this partnership and creating some fresh new work.

Your work supports a wide demographic of participants, I wonder if you think your organisation works with young creatives who wouldn’t otherwise be engaged in mainstream arts in Wales?

Yes, absolutely, we attract a diverse group of participants with our programs, and continue to have a point of view that talks to all people, regardless of location, gender, race and income. We are able to relate to a diverse group of people and cultures through their shared common interests. This commitment to equality and diversity is at the heart of all the work we do.

Welsh Assembly Government culture minister Ken Skates has been supportive of your company, Liara could you tell us more about your relationship?

The progressive discussion that the Minister is encouraging is very exciting, and the support really highlights the progression of our arts community in Wales. We are seeing the Senedd opening up to hear younger voices in the arts, and I’m very excited to be a newly appointed member of the Welsh Government’s Arts and Creativity Forum.

  What are the long term plans for Jukebox?

We will focus on creating and expanding our dance Academy as well as continuing to produce compelling high quality dance productions. We want to keep creating opportunities and working closely with the local community, as well as touring professional work, and creating bespoke work for special events and campaigns. We are keen to support the development of young creatives in all aspects of performing arts. We want to work with local businesses and form partnerships to support all the strands of our work, aiming to build a healthy, sustainable company.

My aim with the creative work is to build a collective of dancers who develop a language that can be pushed to the very edges of expressive, aesthetic and visual possibility. I want to make collaborative work that pushes the language of dance to new, deeper levels – exploring the edges of possibility through movement and expression.

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And finally how do I find out more if I want to get involved?

To get involved in any strand of the company, from professional development and performance or just for fun, if you have collaboration in mind or would just like to hear more about our work, you can contact zoe@jukeboxcollective.com.

Keep a look out for our new website, which will be launching in January 2016.

www.jukeboxcollective.com

REVIEW Beauty & The Beast, Ballet Cymru by Tanisha Fair

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Ballet Cymru’s adaptation of Beauty and the Beast is really one to go and see.

The way that Beauty played by Lydia Arnoux dances really helps you understand the ballet with no words but her facial expression to movement it is all quite beautiful and elegant. I also loved the music that  gave the production a forest like atmosphere and at some points tense feeling, the Beast played by Mandev Sohki made the iconic character come to life. The Beasts costume created a towering imposing monster from the  wearing  of stilts gave him height and created an awkward and stubbing effect that helps Beauty fall in love with him and helps him to dance. The characters in the play like Beauty’s sisters, brothers and friends helped the scene changes they changed into dancing candles this made the play dynamic and different. The costume design was stunning and delicate my favourite outfit would have had to have been Beauty’s sisters red dresses I love the way that they moved when the sisters danced.

The scenery of the play was very simple but also interesting, I really liked how they initially showed Beauty’s house having a fire-place and then the outside snowflake background. Another thing that I thought was a good part of the ballet was when before it stated they had the rose from Beauty and the Beast projected on the screen, this begins to explain the story  of the fairy tale and how children will believe anything that you tell them. In my opinion I think the production is  brilliant and well worth going to see.

 

REVIEW Caitlin, Town Hall, Montgomery, Powys, by Mark J Michaels

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Caitlin Town Hall, Montgomery, Powys

Director and choreographer: Deborah Light

Reviewer: Mark J Michaels

Rating: 4.5

An audience of twenty, forming a circle, are the co-participants with Caitlin (wife of poet Dylan Thomas) in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Walking into the lower room in Montgomery Town Hall, where the performance was staged, felt just like the home of a small town AA – complete with that faint hint of disinfectant. We were directed upstairs to a circle of plastic folding chairs – the red ones to be left empty. No lighting, no scenery just those empty red chairs and a few plastic glasses as props.

Deborah Light’s production, embracing dance, movement and speech with a backdrop of music and sound, is riveting from start to finish. As Caitlin, the elfin and lithe Eddie Ladd is perfectly balanced by the muscular dynamism of Gwyn Emberton as her talented alcoholic husband. Their expressive interpretation of these deeply flawed human beings shows every nuance of their relationship in all its turmoil: Caitlin’s love and passion for Thomas countering her rage and jealousy at – in no particular order – his three mistresses: his work, his drink and his other women. Her resentment at the repetitious, circular drudgery of her day to day life is flung in the face of his fame and success as a counterpoint to their passionate, and at times ferociously feral, relationship.

Perhaps the highlight of Gwyn’s portrayal of this genius is his enactment of the writer’s creative process – the agony, the boredom and the striving for what, in his mind, is an unattainable perfection as he negotiates a maze of words, as if plucking the pieces from a box to complete a jigsaw.

Mention must also be made of Light’s clever strategy in using those red chairs, seemingly brought to an inanimate life as they balanced, towered, swirled and fell as they were hurled around the floor, to add an extra dimension in reflecting the turmoil of the Thomas’s lives.

Gregynog Festival brought this production to Montgomery’s Dylan Thomas Centenary Weekend following earlier performances in Cardiff and Swansea, as Thomas’s, A Child’s Christmas in Wales was filmed here. It is Emberton’s home town and doubtless as a small boy watching the production he was set upon his artistic career. It showed in his passionate performance.

It was one of those rare evenings when one comes away, not talking about “the show”, “the performance” or even “the story” but engaged in and with the issues and pain portrayed – the last time I truly did that was in 1978 after seeing Tom Conti in “Whose life is it anyway?” With an audience of only twenty this deserves to travel from venue to venue for a very long time to come.

Review Caitlin by Elin Williams

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Credit Warren Orchard

Light, Ladd & Emberton’s  production simply entitled ‘Caitlin’ was commissioned by the National Library of Wales as part of this year’s centenary celebration of Dylan Thomas’ birth. Directed by Deborah Lightand devised and performed by Eddie Ladd and Gwyn Emberton, the piece explores the life of the often overlooked wife of the famous poet through movement.

The audience is invited into the studio. There are chairs set up in a circle, representative of an AA meeting. Ladd sits with us and introduces herself as Caitlin, an alcoholic. She then launches into an energetic one hour performance which explores the trials and tribulations of Mrs Thomas.

The piece is punctuated by small chunks of dialogue; sentences such as “My husband was a very famous poet” are repeated over and over. Caitlin often lived in the shadow of her husband, and so this repetition serves well to emphasise this. Her husband’s success must have, at times, infuriated her. She tells us that she “was going to be a famous dancer”, but as the audience is aware, this never happened and only adds to the poignancy of her character.

Emberton stands on a chair, hand in pocket in that iconic Thomas pose, rotating and puffing out hot air as Caitlin watches from below. She tells us that she had three babies, although it felt like four as her husband was a ‘professional baby’. Ladd and Emberton cleverly use chairs to represent highchairs in order to communicate this message.

The movement ranges from loving, playful embraces to frantic, violent encounters, representative of the nature of the Thomas’ relationship. Ladd tells us of her affairs, of Dylan’s affairs and combines these pieces of dialogue with sensual movement.

Chairs are used most creatively to illustrate a number of different things, from a highchair to a straight-jacket, a pushchair to a bed. Music from Sion Orgon compliments the piece beautifully and works well to dictate the pace of the piece.

One of the most difficult things to do with a piece of movement theatre is to effectively communicate a narrative, but Ladd, Emberton and Light do this expertly. Some sections are perhaps slightly ambiguous, but this only helps to provoke the audience into questioning what it could potentially mean. A truly fantastic piece which gives a rare insight into the life of Caitlin Thomas.

 

Review John DV8 National Theatre, London by Hannah Goslin

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Photo (Hannes Langolf) by Hugo Glendinning

‘For nearly thirty years, Lloyd Newson’s DV8 Physical Theatre has produced original and challenging dance theatre unafraid to push audiences out of their comfort zone’

During my performance training from the age of 15, I was introduced and inspired by DV8’s work. Thirty years of bringing thoughtful and impacting theatre into the forefront of audience’s minds. After seeing ‘Can We Talk About This?’ in Truro a few years ago, knowingly, DV8 brings a great approach to discussions that can be taboo, or if beginning to be spoken more about, still laid bare, and this has always had an amazing impact on me.

John was no exception. A simple rotating staging was easily turned into several different locations with little change; just the addition of occasional props. The performance was about the story of John, not stage and lighting trickery and attempt to astonish audiences in this way.

John’s life was from verbatim – a production based on a solo interview with a normal human being and how his turbulent life from childhood to his present shaped who he was, what he wanted and despite a possible more negative life compared to some, something relatable … wanting someone to love and love us.

A combination of physicality and spoken word caught the eye and ear of every audience member. A pin could be heard within the theatre as John’s story of the horrors he had experienced and the life he was entering were laid in front of us, with no fear or cover of the truth. For some, this blunt-ness of the taboo subjects may have been much to handle, with, at times, comedy with topics that could make the strongest person cringe but what would DV8 be without this?

The versatility and fluidity of the performers brought interesting scope to the spoken word ; each one was astonishingly capable of beautiful movement and never took away from the intent of their words. How their ability to contort themselves and move in such a way and still easily and with steady breath speak their lines was inspiring. And ensuring that their words still gave as much meaning as the movement, left myself in tears of awe and from the impact of the story.

DV8, as usual have brought a fantastic and must see performance into the public eye. It is almost impossible to come away without a feeling of elation at seeing theatre at its best.

Review Caitlin, Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff by Barbara Michaels

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Credit Warren Orchard

Choreography: Deborah Light, Eddie Ladd and Gwyn Emberton

Director: Deborah Light

Caitlin; Eddie Ladd

Dylan: Gwyn Emberton

Reviewer: Barbara Michaels

Rating: [3.5]

Based on the writing of Caitlin, the wife of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, this dance production tells of her life with the poet through the medium of a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous which she started to attend some twenty years after his death. Similar in style that of the one-woman show performed at the Sherman Theatre in 2003, it could equally have been named ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy.’

Caitlin’s recognition of the destruction wrought upon her life is portrayed in a series of dance moves, many of them violent in the extreme. In focussing on the turbulences of the Dylan marriage, director choreographer Deborah Light adheres closely to Caitlin’s own perception of her alcoholism and her life. The athleticism and technical skills of Eddie Ladd as Caitlin are showcased brilliantly, although there is a tendency to over- use of repetition, which can be tedious at times. One thinks of Ladd as a dancer but Light also allows her to speak, albeit briefly. Her speaking voice enthrals as much as her dance technique and makes a considerable contribution to Ladd’s characterisation. Her reiteration at intervals throughout that, while Dylan was a poet, “I could have been a dancer” adds poignancy to the overall projection of chaos, with dancers and furniture crashing around the stage for much of the time.

Ladd’s boundless energy is phenomenal, as is that of Gwyn Emberton, as Dylan. Many of Emberton’s dance moves require him to roll around the floor or balance precariously on a pyramid of stacked tubular and plastic chairs that teeter ominously. The said chairs are an integral part of the production, being used by the dancers use not only to represent actual objects – a baby’s pushchair, for instance – but also mood. There is no set, and these are the only props, barring a paperback book and four glasses of water with sweets in. Seated on some twenty chairs of the same ilk are the remainder of the cast (actually the audience), representing the members of the AA meeting which Caitlin is addressing.

In the year which marks the centenary of Dylan Thomas’s birth and the 60th anniversary of the iconic Under Milk Wood, it was inevitable that all aspects of his life would be explored in theatrical performances both nation and world-wide. His lifelong battle with alcoholism has been well documented; that of his wife Caitlin possibly less well so, In portraying this, and showing that while in some aspects it bound them together, Light’s production shows how eventually it destroyed not only their marriage but both of them.

Runs at Chapter for two more performance: Thursday October 30th at 6.30 and 8.30

Performances on Mon 3 + Tue 4 Nov at Volcano, The Iceland Building, 27-31 High Street, Swansea.

 

Review Bianco No Fit State Circus

No Fit State Circus perform Bianco at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. ©Richard Davenport 13

 

Photograph credit R Davenport.

Bianco’, performed by ‘No Fit State Circus’ was the last show I went to see at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I left the circus tent shaking in awe. When a performance has given you a lump in your throat that makes it hard to even cheer or clap, you know they have done well. Every section beautifully designed that was enhanced by the power of the live band.

There were no individual stars but an ensemble of talented performers, each bringing their own expertise to the stage. Even though this was a stereotypical contemporary circus show, they brought so much emotion to the way they performed that it stood out from any other circus acts. The music and the lyrics especially helped create this emotion and made mini-narratives for each section. There were moments in this show where I felt I’d left reality behind and stepped into a dream. It was aesthetically pleasing in every sense that I couldn’t believe it was happening before me. I never wanted it end. What was more interesting is that I felt like I was part of the production myself. The constant change of positions to re-arrange the performance space made it become even more immersive. Sometimes it took away from the essence of fantasy, yet it was necessary.

It was evident that every aspect of the show was well thought out and infused with professionalism. Every person so physically fit it was inspiring to watch. Overall ‘No Fit State Circus’ is heightened with pure talent, innovative imagery and a set to be admired at. Step into this tent and leave reality behind.

Review Llais/Voice, Cynyrchiadau Pluen / Flake Productions by Kaitlin Wray

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Llais/Voice

Cynyrchiadau Pluen / Flake Productions

Llais/Voice, A perfect example where music and performance complement each other completely. Elgan Rhys devised this piece based around Amanda Todd’s YouTube video, where she uses placards to tell her story of bullying and depression. Without the use of spoken word, Llais/Voice incorporates dance, multimedia and live music to express Elgan’s own past experiences. This performance was cleverly constructed and pulled on my heart strings. His passion captivated the audience and immersed us into how growing up is probably one of the hardest things to do.

As I’m a lover of live music in shows, Llais/Voice was a perfect show for me. Josh Bowles accompanied Elgan with music that made the performance all the more beautifully striking. His talent for composing and his high level of musical ability made this show elevate its professionalism.

The maturity and elegance Llais/Voice had makes it a wonder that they are just a young company. One thing I would have liked to see was the beginning to be just as insightful as the rest. It took time to get into the body of the work, yet it was well worth the wait. The progression kept going until I was spellbound. Llais/Voice is a must see if you want to see beauty from pain.

Review Last Chance Romance, Kitsch & Sync Collective by Kaitlin Wray

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This fun-filled 50’s themed extravaganza was just what I needed to top off my first night at the Edinburgh Festival.

Three stunning girls,  dressed up in typical 50’s clothes infused dancing with comedy, singing and love booths. The audience interaction, though highly entertaining I felt got a bit over the top at parts although it did leave most of the audience in stitches. The girls kept their charismatic roles throughout while being accompanied by carefully picked songs that went perfectly with the action on stage. One thing that would enhance this performance was a more in depth story line, a carefully structured plot that would capture the audience even more. However it was a lovely night of light hearted fun, an informal space where you could be as chilled as you want.

If you’re looking for love or just a bit of classic fun then this show is a must see.

Wales Dance Platform a short response from 3rd Age Critic Barbara Michaels

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Wales Dance Platform –A Valuable Contribution to the Contemporary Dance Scene in Wales.

A week-long programme of contemporary dance in venues across Cardiff which included the Glanfa stage at the Wales Millennium Centre drew audiences from all over the country and nationwide.   Independent dance artists presented innovative ideas in choreography, film and photography.

One of the major highlights of a talent-filled week took place on the final Sunday when four independent dance companies performed on stage at the Sherman Theatre. Among these was internationally known Ballet Nimba, from Guinea. Idrissa Camara and Oumar Almamy Camara gave a mesmerising and energised performance, leaping around the stage in what appeared to be manic but was in fact perfectly controlled yet acrobatic dance representing masculine identity and the age-old battle for dominance between father and son while reflecting the uncertainties of the social and political scene. Those old enough to recall the visit to the UK from South Africa in 1974 of the show Ipi Tombi, a pastiche of a variety of South African indigenous musical styles which caused some controversy among critics at that time, will have noted similarities. Ballet Nimba deserves an accolade for the way in which the traditional urban and village roots of the dance is retained alongside modern dance moves and stylistics.

At the conclusion of the Platform a £1,000 award for “The most innovative and eye-catching work” an award was presented to Gwyn Emberton for his ‘The Devil in Eden’, a duet taken from his work My People, based on the book by Caradoc Evans.

Barbara Michaels