Sunday, 23 October 2016


A Pride of Lions
Author Benh Lieu Song
Source Wikipedia
Creative commons licence

The Dancehouse evening class students. Move It!, 22 Oct 2016 The Dancehouse, 19:00

I had promised a good show in Want to see a good show in Manchester this Saturday? 19 Oct 2016 but I never imagined in a million years that a member of my family would help to deliver it. But that is exactly what happened when Danny Henry of Rhythms 2 Dance invited members of the audience to join him on stage and my niece, Shola, responded. She mounted the stage to a massive cheer and picked up the steps and rhythm as though she had rehearsed it for ages. I must be one of the proudest people on the planet. Proud of my teachers and fellow students at KNT and the other dance classes at the Dancehouse, of course, but also proud of Shola.

As in the previous Move It! shows (see Better than Eurovision 24 May 2015 and One of my proudest moments - Dancing in Move It! 31 Jan 2016) the entertainment was provided by the students who attend evening and weekend dance classes at the Dancehouse theatre in Manchester. As I have said several times before, I am one of those students and I would have put myself forward for the show if I could have attended rehearsals. The show that we saw last night was to have been performed on 18 June 2016 but had to be postponed because of emergency repairs to the ceiling of the auditorium (see It could easily have gone pear-shaped ............ 19 June 2016).

Again as in previous shows the evening was compered by Tracey Gibbs of a Taste of Cairo. I have seen Tracey dance and know that she is a fine dancer but I imagine that she is also an excellent teacher for she is a great master of ceremonies. She has the audience eating out of the palm of her hand with her warmth and jokes and general good humour. "You're all here because you know someone in the show, right?" she asked. A mutter of ascent. "A son or daughter, husband, wife, brother or sister?" Applause. Tracey reminded the audience that the dancers give up their evenings and weekends to attend class and that for some of them it would be their first time on stage. She rehearsed us in whooping and clapping for them.

The show commenced with Josh Moss's Wednesday evening repertoire class dancing the Snowflakes Waltz from The Nutcracker. You know. The bit with the female voices singing "La, la, la, la, la". Here's a YouTube video of The Royal Ballet doing it to get the general idea. It was performed beautifully by my friends. Maybe not quite as polished as Meaghan Grace Hinkis as Clara, Ricardo Cervera and the artists of the Royal Ballet in the clip but when all things are considered they did pretty well. The crowd loved them and they gave the evening a flying start.

The lighting changed, A blast of what sounded to me like a didgeridoo. Ring of Fire from the contemporary class performed with energy and expression. I cannot quite remember whether they were Ailsa Baker's students or Carlotta Tocci's but whoever taught them is to be congratulated.

More congratulations to Karen Sant and the pointe class for what must have been a gruelling few minutes. Plenty of  échappés sur les pointes. I know from personal experience that it is bad enough doing that exercise on demi-pointe while facing the barre. It must be murder going all the way in pointe shoes while finding and maintaining one's balance at the same time. There are some seriously talented young women in that class.

Danny appeared next in the Brazilian football team's colours dancing a duet to what I believe to be samba but as I am unfamiliar with the genre I am probably miles off the mark. He and his partner were joined in the next dance by another two dancing to an infectious rhythm.

More ballet next and I recognized members of my Tuesday class including Simon Garner, one of the few gents in our group. They danced well and deserved a standing ovation so I gave them one.

At this point I ran out of paper for note taking so I have probably missed some of the performers for which I apologize. I remember Paint it Black performed with the same energy as Rambert do in Rooster albeit to somewhat different choreography. I also remember more of my ballet class members dancing Shostakovich's Waltz Number 2 well and prompting me to rise to my feet again but I can't for the life of me remember their place in the programme.

We had a short interval after which Tracey introduced the artists for the second half.

One of the highlights of my evening was the entry into the kingdom of the shades from La Bayadere by Josh's repertoire class. I don't know why but that dance always moves me. As I said in La Bayadere Intensive Day 3: No Snakes 17 Aug 2016 I have had a bash at dancing that piece. It looks easy enough - a tendu with arms in 5th inclining slightly towards the audience and then an arabesque but, believe me, it isn't. Watching the dancers emerge in height order is mesmeric. Being one of those dancers requires enormous concentration. Led across the stage by Yoshie Kimura, they were all impressive.

After the show, I spotted Jane Tucker, the inspiring teacher from Northern Ballet Academy who taught me the shades' entry in Manchester as well as so much more about ballet in  her Wednesday evening classes in Leeds over the last year or so. She will be teaching us repertoire from The Nutcracker next Saturday (see A Unique Opportunity to learn a Bit of The Nutcracker 12 Oct 2016) and I made an educated guess that we would be learning the snowflakes' waltz. She assured me that she had not yet decided what to teach us in that intensive. All I know is that it will be fun.

After La Bayadere there was some great tap dancing with the performers in sailor suits. Memories of Gene Kelly and On the Town. 

Then the gorgeous Peacock Dance from Susie Lu's Chinse dancers in their beautiful costumes. "Ooh" whispered Shola. "I'd love to wear one of those dresses, wouldn't you?"

Next, Danny appeared in a West African shirt to an infectious drum beat. The audience started clapping in time. Danny invited folk to join him on stage and a few responded.  "I want to join them" said Shola. She is my goddaughter as well as my niece and I have known her nearly all her life but I never knew that she could dance. Not only can she dance but she can also hold an audience. "Where did she get this from?" I asked myself. When she was a little girl my late spouse and I had taken her to see The Nutcracker by English National Ballet. As she seemed to like that we took her and her little cousin to see the Royal Ballet's Cinderella at Covent Garden. I remember her doing Fiona Noonan's ballercise class on her last visit to Holmfirth a few years ago. After the performance Danny invited her tp take his class. "If only," she replied, "but I am only here for the weekend and I live in London." Right now I am scouring the internet for classes like Danny's in the capital. "We are all good at something," I told her on the drive home, "and you seem to be good at dancing. Talent like your's needs developing."

The evening concluded with Saint-Saens Danse Macabre danced magnificently by the advanced class. They were the piece de resistance, the frosting on the cake, the bees' knees - any epithet for quality you care to dream up. Dressed in maroon they executed complicated and some very difficult steps with precision and poise. Yet another performance that hoisted me to my feet.

When Gita reviews a ballet she likes to make "a man (or woman) of the watch" award. Denis Rodkin and Isaac Lee-Baker have been previous winners. Had she been there I have no doubt she would have given it to Katie. She seemed to be in everything. "Was that 7 dances or 8  that I counted you in?" I asked her in the bar after the show. "Only 6 in the end" she replied. "Only!" That lady is full of energy as well as grace. Proud to know her and to have danced with her. Yet another source of pride.

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