Review Awakening, National Dance Company Wales by Helen Joy

 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

I am the wrong person to review these pieces. I love NDCWales’ performances like I love good chocolate, I love them like a filthy, dirty, sweet secret, I want to shout this to the world.


Tundra I have seen before. Seen? Seen? You don’t just see these dancers on a stage, you feel them in your guts and in your heart. I cannot begin to imagine what it must really be like to sweat and toil over the solid waste ground of the boards, feeling hot but showing cold. It is stunning. Complex, beautiful and stronger than ever. 

I was taught about the tundra, the Russian Steppes, the permafrost and their people in a time when we embraced our differences,  when our clothes and cities and foods and arts were noticeably different. Morau is a visionary unafraid of the past, unafraid of what makes us special, what joins us.


Now this is magic. The audience asks are there mirrors? No – I want to scream – it’s magic, let it be magic. Don’t explain – just enjoy the rolling images of relationships between the dancers, the music and the space they fill.

Melo wants the audience to have an active role in interpreting his piece, not tacit complicit traditional acceptance but think, join in, believe. Visually incredible – as it should be. This is a hungry piece. 

Revellers Mass

A greedy, visceral, writhing display. Gorgeous. I think Greenaway, I see Spanish lace and the bloody colours of fFamenco, I see The Last Supper debauched and blasphemous. I bloody love this. How does Finn do this? I want to cry, it is so so good. It is funny, it is dangerous, it is an orgy and a ceremony.

The music is perfect – deep through to ironic – and the audience sighs and laughs along, cringing at memories of our own revelry. We particularly like the mannequin’s arms groping a dancer’s body as he cavorts on water Fun! Joyous! And there we are, dragged off in disgrace and a fitting end. Brilliant. And as always, I am left wanting more, wanting to see it all again.


Why do these dances make me cry? What is it about them that taps into something so primal, so rooted that when they soar, I do too? Perhaps it is because I could no more do what they do than fly to the moon, perhaps it is because I see what could have been. We are often brought up kindly and carefully, encouraged to train for a proper job but we miss something – art brings life, in all its forms. Do not be afraid to take that different path. Do not be afraid to paint your dreams.

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