Sunday, 1 March 2015

Murley on Chappell

RCD - Two Duets Rehearsal Trailer from Richard Chappell on Vimeo.

I was introduced to the work of Richard Chappell by David Murley. David is Artistic Director of MurleyDance which I admire very much. David had commissioned Richard to create Wayward Kinship for his company's Hail Britannia programme which I saw at the Shaw Theatre last October (see MurleyDance's Autumn Tour 28 Oct 2014). Wayward Kinship is about the relationship between King Henry and Thomas Beckett and I was very impressed by the work. I was all the more impressed on learning that its choreographer was not yet 20 and still at the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance.

Earlier in the day I had attended the Birmingham Royal Ballet's Shadows of War at Sadler's Wells which included Dame Gillian Lynne's re-staging of Sir Robert Helpmann's Miracle in the Gorbals which I reviewed in A Second Miracle 23 Oct 2015. I noticed many similarities in the two works. One had been created by one of the great names of British dance with over 70 years experience of the stage. The other by a young man at the very beginning of his career.  Seeing Wayward Kinshop stimulated a thirst for Richard's work which I had hoped to slake at the Chisendale Dance Space yesterday.

Alas, it is not possible to be everywhere and see every show. When it became clear that I could not get to London yesterday I asked David to review the show on my behalf. He knows Richard's work better than most.  Here is what he wrote.

IRIS Watch This Space
Reproduced by kind permission of Richard Chappell
All rights reserved

"28 February 2015


Tonight concluded Richard Chappell Dance’s (RCD) first UK tour since Chappell himself first graduated from Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance in July 2014. At just 20, Chappell is steadily making a name for himself through his work and complex choreography.

First on the programme was a curtain raiser Moments in 360. The piece was beautifully danced by Emma Farnell-Watson and Will Thompson. I immediately praise Farnell-Watson for her mastery of walking on stage. Years of dance training can often make this seemingly simple step one of the hardest things to do. Yet, Farnell-Watson struts and coasts across the stage in a typically everyday gait and seamlessly swings into lighting quick and intricate Chappell movement. Her partner work with Thompson appeared to go off without a hitch. Thompson tossed Farnell-Watson from one sequence of pas de deux to the next. As a partnership, they appeared to push one another to the edge. There were elements of risk in changes of grip from one partnering sequence to the next. No matter how much Thompson flung Farnell-Watson around, he still simultaneously handled her like a Fabergé egg.

Next on the programme came IRIS – a piece about nyctophobia, which is an extreme fear of the dark. Growing up in rural Devon, Chappell was inspired to create this piece because of the pitch-blackness that can occur in the countryside. Dancer Olivia Roach is a force to be reckoned with in this piece. Her understanding of Chappell’s complex and substantial material is masterful. The embodiment of her fear of a dark London alley on stage when being partnered by Kai Tomioka was captivating. Roach not only understood the vast array of emotions Chappell can often throw at his dancers, but she continued to push her character and her performance all the way until the end. To add, as a contemporary dancer, Roach has amazing earth-bound qualities and a great relationship with the floor. Yet, Roach can take flight with no effort or obvious exertion making elegant and beautiful lines. Combing all of these attributes, Roach is a true ballet contemporary dancer. Thank you. 

The final work on the programme was The Vast Rocks. Chappell took inspiration for this piece from the landscape of his native Devon. Chappell’s aim was to transition the performance space into a more rural and calming environment. Firstly, I did enjoy this piece. However, I, personally, did not feel it was a well developed as the first two pieces on the programme. The work was divided into four sections with music by Aaron Martin and accompanied by Anne Chappell’s fantastic poetry. The overall shape of the piece could have been improved with more vocabulary in the movement matching the text in the first two sections. Chappell began to get to find his rhythm in sections three and four. To add, the text, read by Chappell himself, would have been more effective with vocal projection. This piece could really be something engaging and spectacular. I, personally, feel Chappell can push this one further.

As a choreographer and Artistic Director of his own company in under a year out of professional training, Chappell has achieved an astounding amount. Having just turned 20 in the February, it would be disappointing if he were already hitting the nail on the head with all of his choreography and movement. Richard Chappell is definitely one to watch. Since I first met Chappell in 2013, he has grown tremendously. Knowing he is a diligent and intelligent young man who perseveres, I have no doubt he is in for the long haul. It is a pleasure to watch Chappell grow with each piece he creates. He is not just a clever young man who thinks and creates, but he is also someone who has lived and continues to live who also has something interesting to say. I hope he continues to keep sharing those interesting things with us all. 

By David Murley Artistic
Director of MurleyDance"

Without a doubt this is one of the best reviews that will ever appear in this blog. Because David is a dancer and choreographer he was alert to technical matters and nuances in the choreography that would have eluded me. I am very grateful to him for his excellent contribution.  I am now even more eager to see Richard Chappell's work and I will be at his next show come hell or high water.

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