|(c) 2016 Jane Lambert|
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It is 35 years since David Hamilton, Donald Edwards and Vilmore James founded Phoenix Dance Theatre in Leeds. As the tour page on the company's website put it:
"From small beginnings in inner-city Leeds, Phoenix Dance Theatre has grown to be one of the UKs leading contemporary dance companies."The company has some of my favourite dancers such as Carmen Vazquez Marfil, Sandrine Monin, Sam Vaherlehto, Vanessa Vince-Pang and Prentice Whitlow. It also has in its artistic director, Sharon Watson, an excellent choreographer and it has just commissioned for the first time a work from one of its own dancers (see Calyx 8 Dec 2016).
As I said in Phoenix's 35th Anniversary Tour 18 Feb 2016:
"Phoenix contributes much to the cultural life of the North of England and the nation not only through its performances but also by its educational and outreach work which includes workshops on tour, academies for young people in Leeds and the North East and schools partnerships. The statistics are impressive. According to the programme for yesterday's performance there were 641 workshops engaging 2,379 young people in Leeds between 2014 and 2015 and a further 228 engaging 1,360 young persons outside the city with a total audience of 91,128."The "performance" to which I referred was a celebration of Phoenix's 35th anniversary at the West Yorkshire Playhouse on 17 Feb 2016 with Sharon Watson's Melt, Kate Flatt's Undivided Loves and Itzik Galili's Until.With/Out.Enough. It was a very special evening.
For all these reasons Phoenix Dance Theatre is my contemporary company for 2016.