DANCE THAT TAKES YOUR BREATH AWAY..

National Dance Company Wales (NDCW) are well renowned for their intricate, slick and dynamic work.  An award-winning company, their pioneering work is challenging and thought provoking; exactly how contemporary dance should be.

Today their Spring Tour visited Sherman Cymru, and I was lucky enough to be able to experience their beautiful work.  For me, contemporary dance is up there as a favourite form of art.  I love the way it challenges expectations, using the body in a divine way that seems utterly impossible.

Of course, the production did all this and more.  Kicking off with Mythology,  the dancers performed as a community, delicately bringing their separate movements and motifs together as one to create a unity.  The dance gradually built up in a frenzy of movement; you almost didn’t quite know where to look.

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But then as the dancers drew together, and the individual movements bounced off one another, they created something truly amazing.  In a split second you could see exactly what Shropshire was aiming to do with his choreography; creating something all-together greater through the sum of its individual parts.  

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He likens this to the culmination of the company over four years, together creating a vision and a philosophy of movement.  A true testament to the power of the company and the journey it has taken to become an internationally recognised dance group.

Mythology was powerful and consuming; accompanied by a Frederic Rzewski’s Coming Together, an avant-garde composition for piano, jazz ensemble and spoken word, it was clever, expressive and deeply reflective.

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The Seek To Find The Happiness They Seem was totally different.

Whilst Mythology was an ensemble of manic yet controlled group work, this piece was a simple and moving duet between two exquisite dancers.

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An effortless portrayal of the inner world between couples and individuals, the dance told a classic story of dislocation and separation within a relationship.  With a single spotlight on the dancers, it begins reflecting an apparent closeness, with intimate movements and a breathtaking closeness of bodies.  Despite the beautiful accompaniment, it was as if the room was completely silent; eerie almost.  You felt you could have heard a single pin drop… as if had you made a noise, the movements would have stopped.

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It was as if you were peeking through a key-hole at this unraveling relationship, watching an initial intimacy turn to loneliness.  Both dancers were superb; their movements were smoke-like, floating across the stage and into your sub-conscious.  It was mesmerizing.

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Closing with my highlight of the evening, Water Stories was sure to be the crowd pleaser.  This piece focused on the magical waterscapes of Wales, creating a poetic and spine-tingling world of movement on stage.

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The costumes perfectly complemented the allusion of lakes, waterfalls, reservoirs… the gentle yet powerful fluidity of water.  This, alongside the dancers effortlessly flowing movements, made the piece incredibly believable.  Even for a non-contemporary mind, the subject matter was shouting out.

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Every dancer had the opportunity to shine.  Whereas I can normally focus on one performer and (secretly) pick my favourite, the choice was far too rich here.  Each individual was exceptional, taking dance to whole new levels.  The flexibility and strength of everyone on stage was jaw-dropping.  Throwing one another across the stage as if made of feathers, sinking in and out of the most stunning holds and stretches, whilst remaining in an ethereal state made this piece hypnotic to watch.

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During the dance projections of enchanting Welsh waterscapes were presented to the audience, allowing a literal representation of the very abstract movements.  It was a delightful touch, and a charming way to draw the topic, movements, music and costume in harmony with one another.

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I found myself wishing this piece would never end.  It was sublime, with some of the most exciting and natural lift work I have seen in a dance production.  I loved the attention it paid to every performer, and the variety of pace, power and emotion it reflected.

This was the first time I had seen NDCW.  After tonight, I will absolutely be following their journey and their performances, and cannot wait for their next visit to the city.

If you find yourself on their touring remit, I urge you to introduce yourself to their spell-binding work.  You will not be disappointed!

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TWEET TWEET..

To celebrate 2014 The Scribble Emporium has undergone a bit of a makeover!  I’m loving the slicker, more professional look to the site.  I feel like I’ve finally found a theme that fits what this blog is about.

I’m also excited to say that you can now follow The Scribble Emporium @ScribbleSays.  I’ll be posting regular blog updates as well as any art and culture news.  If you’re interested in the Welsh arts scene give it a follow!

You can also now contact The Scribble Emporium by emailing info@thescribbleemporium.com.  If you have any shows coming up that you would like me to review, just drop me a line.

As if that wasn’t all thrilling enough (yes, I live a simple life), the blog now has its own domain!  I will be dedicating a lot more time to the blog this year and already have some fantastic shows in the pipeline (look out for preview features and interviews coming soon).

I’m really looking forward to seeing where I can take this blog in the next year.  If 2013 is anything to go by there is hell of a lot to look forward to!

WHAT’S ON MY WISH LIST..

I’m always keeping my eyes open for things to add to my wish list.  Quaint trinkets, literary jewellery, recommended books… anything a bit special!

I decided at the end of 2013 that it was time I made a list of books I needed to read in 2014.  The idea struck me after reading an article on the Huffington Post website about the top 30 books to read before you’re 30.  So many of them I hadn’t even had the pleasure of experiencing; so I nabbed a few of their ideas, along with a few recommendations as well as my own yearning desires and alas, my list was formed.  Now I have cut my book club outings to one a month I have a bit more time to plow through the list.

  • Apple Tree Yard – Louise Doughty
  • Before I go to sleep – S J Watsongripping and spine tingling.  A real page turner.  Up there with Gone Girl for killer twist.
  • The Testament of Mary – Colm Toibinraw, thought-provoking and delightfully intelligent.  A divine read and one I will return to again and again.
  • The Sun also rises – Ernest Hemingway
  • Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
  • The Golden Notebook – Doris Lessing
  • A room of one’s own – Virginia Woolf
  • Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wildean absolute joy to read.  Wilde not only has a poignant way with words, but he was also clearly barmy as hell… my kind of guy.
  • Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruis Zafon
  • The Prisoner of Heaven – Carlos Ruis Zafonafter reading the Angel’s game first and then this second it could be said I’ve read the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series in a bit of an odd order.  But it still works.  Zafon’s intricate plot seamlessly weaves in and out of all the books in a way that can be thrown around in any order.
  • The Go-Between – L P Hartley
  • The Fault in our Stars – John Greena book I only finished this evening.  Although admittedly aimed at a teen audience, I found this book beautiful, insightful and painfully honest.  A fair few tears have been shed today!
  • The Book Thief – Markus Zusak Beautifully written and poignantly moving.  One of the most wonderful books I have ever read, and a story that will stay with me forever.
  • The Woman who walked into Doors – Roddy Doyle

I’m constantly adding to this list, so please any suggestions are more than welcome!

Next on my wish list is one of the most delightful little ideas I have seen in a long time.  Popping up on my Twitter feed last night were KleverCase, a family run business making bespoke handmade covers for ereaders, journals and tablet devices.

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Image taken from KleverCase website

Inspired by all the cherished novels of our time, this is a delicious blend of contemporary and classic… and I love it!  The details on these products look perfect; they cater to the demands of modern life whilst encapsulating the magic of Fitzgerald, Dickens and Austen.  Ideal for precious gifts (or a cheeky present for yourself) they come in a huge range of designs / sizes / functions… and there is the option to personalise!  It’s safe to say I have my eye on a few of these.  The only problem is deciding which one I want most!

And with that I sign off; apologies for the short post, but I found myself compelled to get a bit “booky” with my blog.  After all, there really is no better buzz than that of a meaty novel.

THE BIG 2013 ROUND-UP..

After starting this little blog only five months ago, I’ve been invited to some fantastic shows and events.  I’ve had tickets to the ballet, Shakespeare, site-specific dance, political comedies and daringly realistic plays.  I could not be more grateful that these fantastic, exciting theatres and companies have wanted me to review their brilliant shows; the arts scene in Cardiff is superb, and something I am incredibly passionate about, so to be able to express my opinion on it is a wonderful feeling.

So in good New Year fashion I have decided to post my “top five” events of 2013.  Here’s to many more inspiring shows in 2014!

5) Cedar Lake

NECESSITY, AGAIN, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, Baden Baden, Germany.

Contemporary ballet is my favourite form of dance, and Cedar Lake ticked every single box for me.  The New York dance company are known for their edgy, adventurous performances, daring to be different whilst providing exceptional talent through their awe-inspiring dancers.   This trio of performances was exciting, dynamic and captivating.  The time flew by, leaving me wanting more from this exciting company.  And more I certainly got, as a few weeks later I won a signed programme from the team – perfect!

 

4) Takeover Cardiff

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In October I followed the first Takeover Cardiff (put on by British Council Wales).  I interviewed three fantastic international artists and then attended the day long event before writing a review of the whole event.  The event was thought-provoking and touching; a showcase of young talent in South Wales, it took artists to the iconic cultural hubs of Cardiff.  These were kids that would normally not be given the platform to play out their talent.  British Council Wales gave them the chance to throw it into the public’s attention.  The day left me feeling like anything was possible if only you have the passion, confidence and drive to achieve it.  A stunning event which I will always remember.

 

3) The Selfish Giant

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Although not technically a performance, I can’t have a write up of 2013 without mentioning The Selfish Giant.  Clio Barnard’s modern adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s fairy tale classic affected me in a way that I’m not sure a film ever has before.  It was poignantly beautiful and utterly raw, leaving me quite literally breathless in the closing scenes.  It is a film that didn’t shy away from the uncomfortable truths encapsulating modern society, whilst reflecting the most delicate friendships and love in a superb way.

 

2) Clod Ensemble’s An Anatomy in Four Quarters

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Last month I was invited to a rather unusual show.  The advertising around it gave little away.  I had no idea what to expect… but always keen to see something new, I went into it with an open mind and intrigue.  What I experienced was something I could never have expected.  An Anatomy in Four Quarter’s was spellbinding, exquisitely intelligent and overwhelmingly consuming.  A mesmerizing combination of drama, music, dance and spoken word, the performance brought the audience into the performance and took us on a journey through the anatomy of the body and the theatre.  It really was an exceptional experience, and one of those performances that days later still left you questioning the deep messages behind every movement.

 

1) Dirty Protest’s Parallel Lines

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There is no doubt for me that the highlight of 2013 was Parallel Lines by Dirty Protest theatre company.  The powerful play depicted the gritty and forbidden relationship between a seemingly perfect teacher and an under privileged student, set on the simple set of two parallel kitchens.  Everything about this play was superb; the acting, the script, the direction… it all fell together in a fantastic presentation of class, truth and relationships.  The deeply disturbing subject matter was portrayed with maturity, authenticity and skill; Katherine Chandler truly has a talent for the written word.  I cannot do this play justice; but what I can say is I cannot wait to throw myself into more of Dirty Protest in 2014.

 

I hope you all have a beautiful New Year!  Let me know of any shows that have made your 2013 special… and remember, email me if you would like me to review any of your shows in 2014! Peace!

THE SELFISH GIANT: ANYTHING BUT A FAIRYTALE ENDING..

Now and again you watch a film that takes hold of you in a way like no other.  It enters your soul and takes you on a journey to a place you’ve  never been before.  It captures something beautiful, illuminating an inspiring message for the world to hear.

For me, that film was The Selfish Giant.

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Taking its title and inspiration from the Oscar Wilde fable, Clio Barnard’s tale of poverty and the loss of innocence is miles away from fairytale territory.  Led by the exceptionally talented Conner Chapman (the loud-mouthed tearaway Arbor) and Shaun Thomas (his softly spoken, horse loving best friend Swifty), the story takes its audience to a post-industrial Bradford estate where selling scrap metal is the only way to make a living.

The unlikely duo hire a horse and cart from the local scrap-dealer, Kitten, (the Selfish Giant) finding old pots and pans, broken scooters, rusty cars and washing machines to earn money for their debt-ridden Mothers.  Influenced by the greedy and manipulative Kitten, the pair set their sights on bigger prizes, hunting down stolen power cables for more lucrative rewards.  They make the perfect team; Arbor has the gift of the gab, whilst Swifty has a natural connection with the horses.  Their beautiful relationship touches on perfection, with Barnard portraying a deep and moving friendship.  Despite their poor, distressing home-life, both share a bond that money can’t buy.  Watching it unfold on screen is one of the most touching aspects of the film.  In a community where the are forced to be the breadwinners for their families, together they are able to let go and be true to themselves: they are able to be children.

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As hardships worsen still, the bleak landscape of working class England is devastating to watch.  The portrayal of the young boys’ lives are poignant, realistic and harrowing.  It’s a situation all too relevant, making the film all the more thought-provoking.  Kitten uses Arbor and Swifty for his own gain, culminating in a heart-breaking ending that left the whole audience breathless.

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I don’t want to give too much away about this film; what I do want to do is urge everyone to go and see it.  Without being too cliché, if there is one film you are going to see before 2014, make it this one.  This was easily one of the most captivating and inspiring films I have seen for a long time.  It was gritty, hauntingly beautiful and above all real.  Barnard’s portrayal of the much ignored poverty across Britain as well as the heartbreaking theft of childhood was poetic and passionate in its approach.

This is a film that will stay with me for a long time.. and I hope it will stay with you too.