Monday, 28 July 2014

Chantry Dance Associates: Lots of Promise

Sadler's Wells Theatre
Source Wikipedia

Both Mel and I have written about Chantry Dance recently (see Jane Lambert "Chantry Dance Company's Sandman and Dream Dance" 10 May 2014 and Mel Wong "July News from Chantry Dance Company" 6 July 2014). One of the company's activities is an associate programme for "young dancers of a pre-vocational or pre-professional level, who aspire to have a career in dance." That programme
"exists to nurture, develop and inspire the country's most talented young dancers, and to encourage them to be courageous with their dancing in order to reach new levels in their technique and interpretative skills."
Yesterday, the associates (participants on the programme) showed what they could do in the Lilian Baylis Studio of Sadler's Wells.

Owing to the closure of the M1 between junctions 21 and 22 yesterday (see "M1 motorway closed between junctions 21 and 22 following serious accident" 27 July 2014 Leicester Mercury) my journey was delayed by nearly 2 hours and I arrived towards the end of the show.  Gail Gordon, who must have formed a terrible impression of me because I was also late for the Dream Dance workshop, ushered me into a rehearsal studio and perched me on a piano stool in order not to disturb the associates who were dancing to Vivaldi or Paul Chantry who was filming them on an iPad.  They were all young women and I spotted immediately one I knew: Fiona who had taught me the dance in the Dream Dance workshop. After the show, Rae Piper told me that the dancers ranged in age from 11 to 24. At least one was at Elmhurst and two others were on their way to Trinity Laban.

The steps that the associates danced were not easy and demanded a lot of energy and stamina. The choreography to which Gail told me she had contributed was intricate.  It was executed with lightness, precision and obvious joy. The movement of those artists lifted my spirits and helped me forget my terrible journey.

After the Vivaldi several of the associates performed their own short solos. I had to take notes on the back of a VAT receipt because I had left my notebook in my car in my rush to catch a train at Luton Parkway. Consequently I was able to record my impressions of only a few of those pieces with the result that I am unable to do justice to the others. They were all good and I congratulate all the artists. I enjoyed their work enormously. However, those that I did record made a particular impression on me. An associate whom I know only as Jessica explored steps and movements beyond the positions of classical ballet to create novel and ingenious body shapes. She reminded me of two performances that I had seen recently: first, Ed Watson in the first act of The Winter's Tale where his body contortions represented his jealousy and irrationality; secondly, Daniel Montero's Ballet 101 in the Dutch National Ballet Junior Company's gala. Another dancer whose name I forget interpreted the story of Icarus and Daedalus. A human biology student represented heart beats and blood flows. Yet another one showed considerably dramatic promise in her improvisation.

The performance took place in a part of Sadler's Wells that I had not seen before. There was a plaque to Sir Frederick Ashton on the wall and busts of him as well as Fonteyn, Somes, Dolin, Lillian Baylis and Madam (I do hope real dancers will excuse my presumption in referring to Dane Ninette de Valois in this way) at the entrance. I had seen all of those great men and women except Baylis when they were alive and the flood of memories those busts triggered made my eyes water.

But I was also reminded that ballet is not all magic and involves hard work and sweat. I found myself in a lift with a troupe of Brazilian dancers including one who was naked except for a pair of sweaty underpants. They had obviously been dancing their socks off. Literally. That's about as up close and personal as most of us would care to get.

Talking about sweat, Chantry Dance is a company that works incredibly hard. On Saturday they had been performing The Sandman plus a new work in the Lincoln Drill Hall. Today they are starting a week long summer school in which Mel and Fiona are taking part. Later next month they are meeting local business. In October they will take their latest works which includes The Happy Prince on tour. One of the venues they will visit is The Square Chapel in Halifax on 20 Nov 2014.

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