A Whole New Movement! Welsh Dance!

Theatre Severn,

National Dance Company of Wales

One Another/Law Ynllaw

Tuesday 5th April

When one goes to watch a production by the National Dance Company of Wales one expects to be not only entertained but to be challenged. After all one is seeing someone’s idea or interpretation of a situation you may fully understand: But that understanding is stretched and challenged as the audience and the performers can be as one almost breathing together and sharing that interpretation.

Never a house filler, Modern Dance is not to everyone’s taste and one realises that next to Cubism, it is one of the most challenging art forms that we have ever invented. It is a  genius idea that becomes an interpretation, that the audience is then expected to accept wholeheartedly, enabling them to share the experience with the performers. The fact that this is an artistic interpretation of a brief is important.

Tonight’s show comprised the work of three different choreographers, offering up three very different and diverse narratives with movement that one always believed could or even sometimes should, be totally impossible to achieve.

The dancers themselves were not only breath takingly talented but they were athletic and powerful too. Fantastic movers and a wonderful tool for a great choreographer to play with.

The first piece was choreographed Andrea Costanzo Martini and focussed on Wild Thoughts. It was a delightful piece and the group working together to identify different body parts, was a cheeky little joy. The team worked together weaving, twirling and turning, all in different directions using the entire space. One didn’t see a bump where a dancer might be out of place and in the way, spatial awareness was paramount and executed wonderfully giving the joy of freedom and movement. It is astonishing what our bodies can achieve and how much of that we ignore. Lovely piece with intriguing music created by Ceroddoriaeth.

Anthony Matsena brought to us Codi. In this tremendous second piece. Matsena wanted to explore his own relationship with Wales and what Wales meant to him. Using the defunct industry of Coal Mining the dancers, all appearing in orange workwear dug for coal in the dark and the horrors of the mines. The lighting was sparse to say the least but I imagine many a Welsh miner would argue in support of that point. This piece oozed ability, it was a tough workout for the cast but the essence of Wales was captured. There was a red flag being waved to mark a forthcoming explosion. But the flag grew in importance, and one wonders if with it being red, there might have been a nod to Welsh Socialism and Socialist Revolution. Fascinating and ignited this reviewer’s curiosity. Although light was sparse it was brilliantly done. The dance was lit from the wings, giving a real impression of focussed light and other than that a far-reaching suppressive darkness, where for generations Welsh men were expected to scrabble for coal in a dark and hostile environment. With music by Lara Agar this is the chief jewel that shines on the overall crown.

The third Dance Ludo, which incidentally is Greek for, I play,  was entirely about that Ludo and childhood. The team simply explored childhood feelings, emotions, and activities. We never analyse how our children play so long as they are happy and having fun. It is from the play that happens today that our older futures will be run. The new generation are learning life skills and skills needed in the future to survive in a tough world. Choreographer Caroline Finn explored just that. Through play and interaction this piece was created. Each day at rehearsal the dancers were expected to play a playground game to focus their minds into a mind of a developing young person. It was a great piece it took on a fun issue but reminded us all, that in the end we all grow up and become the people that we once played to create. With more of a montaged soundscape than straight musical backing Ceroddoriaeth put together, again utterly appropriate and fitting score.

There is so much more to modern dance than people moving around. It has a purity and dynamism that one might struggle to find in most other art forms.

Finally one will say that the dancers rather than behaving like pretentious Pri-Madonna’s opened their rehearsals up to the general public of Shrewsbury, to watch how they prepare. One audience member observed that the level of physicality needed for this form of dance is just astonishing. One is inclined to agree. After watching such phenomenal use of the human body this reviewer returned home humbled. For attention, setting, mood, objectives gained, and simply for the pure beauty this has to be a five star review.

This is a five Star Review.

Owen J. Lewis


Sofia Lewis Sofia Lewis
For many years Sofia wrote here under her male name Owen J. Lewis. She is now mostly writing under her own name of Sofia Lewis. Sofia, who worked on independent radio for over ten years, lives in Shrewsbury and writes plays. She has over 15 titles published and her plays are performed all over the world. She is especially popular in America. Her poetry is also often noted and she writes reams of it most weeks. Since graduating in theatre in 1997 Sofia has been an Actor, Filmmaker, and a Secondary School Teacher. Reviewing theatre is something she thoroughly enjoys and she loves to see great theatre. As a musician Sofia is known throughout the UK she is a folk singer, and is often seen or heard around her native county singing and having fun. Sofia has contributed to loveshrewsbury.com for over a decade and enjoys sharing her views on theatre. Sofia has one daughter and grew up in Church Stretton.

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