The Language Of Dance speaks out in Theatre Severn

National Dance Company Wales/Cwni Dawns Cenedlaethol Cymru yn cyflwyno

Terra Firma

Theatre Severn

6/March/2018

It has been a while since National Dance Company Wales (NDCW) appeared at Theatre Severn but in their absence they clearly have been working hard travelling, creating, devising and dancing.

Tonight’s show proved that this is a company to be reckoned with. This is a company so explosively excellent that for this reviewer, they are at the pinnacle of what can be achieved in Modern Dance and one would imagine they will show the way for many others in the years to come. This is a dynamic, breath-taking and thrilling company and “Terra Firma,” is further evidence of their excellence

Comprising three pieces from their Terra Firma Show, tonight, NDCW performed “Folk,” “ Atalay,”  and “Tundra” each piece being incredibly individual, inspired and brilliantly danced.

Themes in Modern Dance are blurred quite deliberately, there is no real narrative, if you look for one you will spoil your fun, tonight there was allusion to Transvestism, Homo-Erotica and Gender hazing and yet the entire evening remained a complete family show. People were creating their own narrative and in the breaks that followed each piece, one could hear audience members talking about what they took away from the one they had just seen.

The choreographers were Mario Bermudez-Gil, Marcos Morau and Caroline Finn, all world renowned Choreographers.

Caroline Finn led  the evening with her piece “Folk”. With just an upside down tree hanging down and a bench stage left, the rest of the space was bare and black box. Initially there was  an individual dancer sweeping some leaves in a very elegant fashion then… BAM the lights stage left glared down on the rest of the troupe in tableaux. The best and most stock solid tableaux that theatre everywhere has probably ever seen, the dancers looked like statues and maintained their positions far longer than one would believe to be humanly impossible.

Then like the leaves that were being swept up, the dancers were swirling and twirling as if a blown by the wind. There were themes and repetitions and jazz like movement away from the themes and back to the themes and away again, it’s an amazing spectacle.

“Folk,” is a thrilling and exhilarating piece that produced audible Oohs and Aaahs from the audience.

Secondly there was “Atalay,” choreographed by Mario Bermudez-Gil this piece was starker. If the stage was minimalistically dressed for the first piece now it was practically naked.

With an urban feel “Atalay,” gave Joe Fletcher a chance to shine. Mr. Fletcher was responsible for the lighting and music. He brilliantly executed his task.

The showpiece was the eight bright white halogen lights at the back of the stage, (upstage as it is known) in two vertical rows of four. The dancers, when lit from the back were in silhouette and that again was a masterstroke, but the real genius came with the playing with that rig of lights. One dancer stood directly in front with hands held on hips. If you can imagine the fantastic effect the beams had through the loop between body and arm. It was stunning. Again as the dancers stood before them and threw powder into the air, it looked exquisite.

Throughout the entire three pieces Joe Fletcher stayed on top form and delighted everyone.

Lighting brings us neatly into the last piece or “Tundra,” as it was titled choreographed by Marcos Morau this piece brought futurism, modernity and technology to the fore.

It opened with a single dancer turning as a ballerina would in a musical box almost. She was dressed in what resembled Eastern European national dress.  Above the dancer was a large suspended rectangle, it lit up so we had a large neon rectangle above. Upstage  it was black until the black background revealed that that too was lit behind and like gas from a cooker the light came escaping through as the black raised upwards contributing further to this feeling of futurism and dystopia.

When the dancer centre stage was moving in slowly round, with a pace that no human should be able to maintain, she was joined by the rest of the cast they too were decked out in the foreign dress, they too were moving in this strange almost trancelike glide. I realised of course that they had embraced technology to enable that move but I have no evidence of that other than that must be how they did it, unless they can levitate. Even they can’t manage that surely?

The foreign dress very quickly vanished and they emerged back on stage in about half a second with the futuristic onesies reminiscent of the green padded suit Bowie wears on the back cover of Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust. So futuristic, it looked spectacular.

The movement again had an almost a superhuman fluidity. Moment after moment of dance that can not be bettered. The human body surely can’t achieve more in the way of stretches and turns. As for the spatial awareness demonstrated by the team one need not add there was not one, not one single wrong foot or mis-timed movement. It was, as they say, tight as a drum.

It was only in the final curtain call that one dancer slipped a little, but that even happened stylistically!

This dance was beyond superb. NDCW achieved the unachievable almost. Down to their very finger tips the synchronicity and asymmetrical synchronicity was mesmerising. In fact that would be the right superlative that one could attach to this entire show, it was all quite mesmerising.

Go and watch Modern Dance it deserves a bigger crowd. It is a scary thought for first timers  sometimes they say they feel it might leave them behind. It won’t! It is brilliant it keeps giving and takes everyone with it.

To each and every one of the crowd tonight the experience we shared was a treat and each of us left with our own interpretation of what we had just seen and not one of us was wrong. This an art form you embrace personally and read what you will into it; it doesn’t matter. The fact that bodies can move so freely and so beautifully is unbelievable and mesmerising! It’s up to you, interpret as you will but go and see one!

This is a Four Star Review

Owen J.Lewis

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Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet.

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