Sunday, 28 September 2014

Gravity Fields - Chasing the Eclipse

Gravity is the force that binds the universe together. Without it there could be no galaxies, no sun, no planets and no us. It is also the medium of the dance. When a ballerina stands on pointe she manipulates the force of gravity as a sculptor shapes a block of marble. The scientist who understood the law of gravity and explained how it works was Sir Isaac Newton who was born in Woolsthorpe and attended the King's School Grantham, To celebrate his connection with the town Grantham is holding a science and arts festival which ends today called Gravity Fields.

In the market place in Grantham there is a stage upon which was performed a wonderful ballet called Chasing the Eclipse. It was danced by Chantry Dance Company about which I have written a lot (see Chantry Dance - Making Connections 30 Aug 2014). The choreographer was Paul Chantry (whom you can see in this YouTube clip) and the principal artists were Rae Piper and Dominic North.

There is something special about this company and while tweeting yesterday I tried to put my finger on it. One of those reasons is that the company's ballets make you think. They are based on a story - often on a significant but not particularly popular work of literature like Hans Christian Andersen's Sandman and Oscar Wild's The Happy Prince. Clearly, Chantry is a man who reads voraciously and in reading he has learned the art of story telling for the story of Lumen (Latin for "light") and Scura (darkness) is a modern myth.  Lumen and Scura are attracted to each other but they cannot meet except in an eclipse where the moon crosses the path of the sun or the earth the path of the moon and then a in nature something beautiful happens.

Lumen danced by North is dressed in orange while Scura danced by Piper is in blue. They dance before a gauze backdrop upon which shapes representing spheres of light and darkness are projected. To create those effects special software had to be developed which Rosemary Richards (the festival organizer) explains in this clip.  The work opens with telescopes as the dancers explore the heavens. Piper, an accomplished actor as well as dancer, has the most expressive face and the look of wonder and delight on her face is enchanting. Beyond the gauze - in the heavens - dances Lumen. Then he appears before the gauze bounding and graceful. He in turn spots Scura. They try to touch but the gauze is between them. Then the spheres converge and they are temporarily united. All of this is danced to a score specially composed by Tim Mountain.

This ballet was staged twice on Thursday the 25 Sept 2014 and three times on Saturday the 27.  I saw the second performance on Thursday which started at 21:00. It was not a particularly warm evening and the audience had to watch it on their feet but everyone around me was entranced.  It was over far too quickly and we wanted more.

Happily there will be more for the company is about to go on tour with a mixed bill consisting of The Happy Prince, Rhapsody in Blue and All I Can Do Is Be Me - the Bob Dylan Ballet. One of the places they are visiting is The Square Chapel in Halifax on the 20 Nov 2014 to which I have been kindly invited by one of the venue's volunteers.

Other Reviews
Graham Newton   VIDEO: Great reception for Chantry Dance Company’s riveting show at Gravity Fields in Grantham 28 Sep 2014 Grantham Journal


  1. The music of composer Tim Mountain was truly beautiful and interpreted so sensitively. Not heard. Anything as good as that for years. Great combination of light, dance and celestial music !magnificent !