|Friends' Meeting House, Manchester|
KNT Showcase of Dance Friends Meeting House, Manchester 19:30 21 May 2022
Yesterday's Showcase of Dance was KNT's first show since the pandemic and, in many ways, it was one of its best. Showtime is important to dance education because dance is part of theatre. Everything we learn in class is in preparation for performance. It is therefore important that everyone is offered a chance to perform even though not everyone wants to accept it.
KNT is run by Karen Sant, one of the most enterprising but also one of the most pleasant young women I have ever had the good fortune to know. Over the last 13 years, she and her teachers have offered adults and kids evening and weekend classes in ballet, contemporary, jazz and tap in central Manchester. For most of those years, they gave those classes in the studios of Northern Ballet School on Oxford Road. When access to the studios was prevented by the pandemic Karen transferred the classes online. When it became possible to hold classes in the open air, Karen moved them to Castlefield. When it became possible to teach indoors again Karen tried a number of venues including eventually the Quaker Meeting House.
Karen's students followed her through those changes of venue. That says a lot for both Karen and her students. Students followed her because she is an excellent teacher and her classes are fun. But dance is not easy and requires a lot of personal commitment. Dance students are good at supporting each other and from such support, friendships form. That is particularly true of rehearsals, choreographic workshops and days of dance when we have a shared project and rely on each other for the project's success as well as our own. I have made a lot of friends at KNT over the years. One of the delights of the evening was seeing many of them in the show.
Part of the reason for yesterday's success was the venue which the compère likened to a school assembly hall. In fact, it was a place of worship which would have been used as such this morning and nearly every other Sunday. Quaker worship can take many forms which, incidentally, could include dance. While I did not detect religiosity yesterday I did see enthusiasm (derived from ἐνθουσιασμός or "inspired by God") and plenty of devotion. But the main advantage of yesterday's venue was its intimacy. The audience was very close to the dancers which I particularly appreciated as I would normally have been one of them.
Every class performed a short piece last night, The teachers skilfully choreographed each piece to display their students' skills to their best advantage and I was most impressed with their capabilities. In the beginners' ballet for example one of the few men in the show supported a woman in a movement that gave the impression of a duet. The tap class danced to music from Slumdog Millionaire. The compere performed in that piece changing from a three-piece suit to his costume before the audience. When he asked how he had done I found myself shouting "very well". My friends and classmates from my pre-intermediate class filled me with pride. However, my favourite piece of the evening was the advanced ballet class's interpretation of music that Karen has chosen for her wedding.
Yesterday coincided with Karen's birthday. At the reverence, she was presented with a cake, flowers, a massive card and presents to a more or less tuneful rendering of "Happy Birthday". It was a wonderful evening that I would not have missed for the world.