PREVIEW: NDCWALES EXCITE THE CAPITAL..

This month the awe-inspiring National Dance Company Wales (NDCW) will be returning to Sherman Cymru with a triple-bill of dynamic dance and classic Welsh talent.

ndcw2

The award-winning contemporary dance company are taking their ever intelligent and inspiring work on a tour of Wales and England, with a one-day stint at Sherman on 10 February.  This season’s programme features the work of world-class choreographers and promises to be a mesmerizing and intoxicating series of dance.

The intriguing triple bill includes:

Stephen Petronio; Water Stories

In an exclusive premiere of his latest work for NDCW, Stephen Petronio teams up with Grammy-winning composer Atticus Ross (who created the score for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) as well as the original visual design work of Matthew Brandt.  A delightful combination of sound, movement and sight, Water Stories portrays the magical and abundant waterscapes of Wales.

 Lee Johnston; Purlieus and They Seek To Find the Happiness They Seem

Working with the talented lighting designer Joe Fletcher, Lee Johnston presents two beautiful pieces of work.  Purlieus explores the intricate relationship between movement, light and animation in a bid to fully immerse both audience and performer in an overwhelming experience.  They Seek To Find The Happiness They Seem focuses on choreography, lighting and costume to evoke visions of dislocation and separation in relationships.

 Stephen Shropshire; Mythology

Stephen Shropshire’s captivating Mythology promises to capture and astound the audience.  Accompanied by Frederic Rzewski’s Coming Together, an avant-garde composition for piano, jazz ensemble and spoken word, this piece promises to attack the senses and absorb its audience.

Tickets are £15 – £22 with under 25s half price.  Book your tickets here.

Advertisements

WALES INTERNATIONAL YOUNG ARTIST AWARD TAKES THE COUNTRY BY STORM..

Last week I was lucky enough to receive an invite to the Wales International Young Artist Awards.  The event was organised and carried out by The British Council Wales, and if last month’s incredibly successful and inspiring Takeover Cardiff was anything to go by, I knew I was in for a treat.

Featured-image

The awards were held at the Radisson Blu hotel in Cardiff; a fantastic venue in my opinion.  I’d not visited the hotel before, and was immediately impressed by the lavish décor and various bars and rooms.  Kicking off with a champagne reception and delicious canapés, the room quickly started filling with arts enthusiasts, friends and family and of course the talented nominees.

I love the atmosphere at arts events; it’s a wonderful feeling to be in a room with so many like-minded individuals.  I find it inspiring, and the WIYAA was no exception.  Everyone was milling around, chatting and enjoying the delectable treats on offer, whilst the nominees nervously awaited the big announcement.  It was glamorous, exciting and tense!

After about an hour we were led over to another conference room where a two piece band greeted us with a selection of smooth and lyrical songs.  Here the artist’s work was displayed prominently for guests to admire.  There were five nominees; a fine-art sculptor, a film-maker, two photographers and a ceramic designer.  The wide spectrum of work was fantastic to see and highlighted the different levels of art out there.  Every piece was exceptional with a beautiful story behind it.  I couldn’t believe that these young artists had produced such mature and intricate work.  Crowds were gathered by every piece, drinking it in and letting it take over.  You couldn’t help but notice the artist’s proud faces; what a fulfilling feeling it would be to see so many people blown away by your work!

Everyone was then directed towards the seating area, with nominees sat nervously in the front row alongside the (not so) frightening judges.  After an introduction by the Director of British Council Wales, Simon Dancey, it was time for the judges to take to the floor.

The judges talked through every piece with enthusiasm, knowledge and admiration.  First up was Eluned Glyn, a ceramic designer from Cardiff Metropolitan University.  Eluned created a selection of abstract tea-set pieces, taking her inspiration from the classic ceramic of the 20th and 21st century.  Her work echoed the old chinaware from her Grandmother’s dresser with a new lease of life from the re-creating process.  It was interesting, sophisticated and exuberated an effortless elegance.  It was chic but full of risks and daring.

 Picture1

Next was Eugene Finnegan, a photographer from Trinity Saint David, Carmarthen.  Eugene’s work depicted the struggles felt by the new generation of adolescents told through a series of black and white images.  His pieces portrayed their attempts to fit in and understand the world they live in, where perceptions of ordinary are challenged on an endless basis by the hyper real portrayals of media.  Such a deep and meaningful topic was told poignantly with the simple but effective images.  You felt as if you were peering through a keyhole at an intimate moment; a perfect snapshot of reality.

Picture2

Following Eugene was Georgia Hall, a third year student of Fine Art Sculpture at Howard Gardens.  Her piece, titled ‘Conversations’, was a highly figurative form made from various materials; chicken wire, foam, concrete, cardboard, paper, tape, plaster, nylon rope and chair.  Georgia hoped that the interesting materials would entice the viewer closer to the sculpture, physically drawing them in so that they become a part of a momentary play, creating a visual narrative as if they are in conversation with a possible character.  It focused on presentation and the response of the viewer, whilst exploring the properties of materials with regards to weight scale and balance.  It was a form of art I had never experienced before.  But the mature subject matter and barrier breaking approach enthralled me; it was an exciting and an extremely communicative piece of art.

Picture3

Next up was Richard L. Pask from Caerphilly, a highly experienced individual in the film industry.  His piece of short film reflected his own stories, and the stories of the people and places around him.  It was beautifully cut and attention-grabbing, with the flair and technique of a film-maker with years of professional experience.

Picture4

Finally we were introduced to the work of Andrew Morris, a photographic artist based in Swansea.   His touching piece “What’s left behind” invited the audience to contemplate one of life’s biggest questions… what is left behind?  The interiors depicted in each of Andrew’s images belonged to a number of empty houses that had been put on the market with the intention to be sold following the death of the owner.  The images were so striking and emotional, including possessions that had belonged to the deceased owners.  The powerful photographs were almost eerie, reflecting the sad remains of a person’s life once they are gone.  Again, so simple but commanding, Andrew’s work left the audience with real food for thought.

Picture5

So with a metaphoric drum-roll, the grand envelope was handed to the judges.  The nominees took an audible deep breath, whilst the families clung to the edge of their seats.  Even I had butterflies!  This work was clearly so important to these five individuals, and their nerves must have been sky high.

“And the winner is… Andrew Morris!” And with those six words, I was subjected to the most raucous and excited celebration of a proud Mother I have ever seen!  Andrew’s family were in tears; it was the most amazing thing to watch!  As Andrew proudly took to the front to collect his prize the feeling of pride was palpable.  And rightly so!  Andrew will have his work projected on an international platform through the British Council Wales network of offices in six continents and over 100 countries!  And of course, a cash prize of £500!

BZC6_I8CUAAbSzc.jpg large

These awards were a fantastic move by the British Council Wales.  It is so important that young artists are given this platform to promote their work, and to be awarded for their talent and dedication.  As always with these events, I left feeling so inspired and proud to be a young person in Wales.  I cannot commend the British Council Wales enough for their devotion to the arts and young individuals; I look forward to all their future events!

Take a look at Andrew’s award-winning work here.

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.

the-selfish-giant-photo-aga

selfish-giant-the-2013-006-kids-on-hillside-with-pylon-wire

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.

the-selfish-giant-2

video-undefined-18F98D5000000578-690_636x358

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.

1010895_nl_the_selfish_giant_1368698908166

1172695_The_Selfish_Giant__photo_agatha_a

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.

SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE GETS A DASH OF ROCK ‘N’ ROLL…

What do you get when an Englishman, an Irishman, a Welshman and a Scot walk into a recording studio?

A compelling and intricate tale of our ever-changing political landscape, that’s what!

Perhaps not the typical answer to the question, but Tim Price’s latest production is anything but typical in its approach.  Set in the simple set of a recording studio, I’m with the band was performed entirely by four characters; an Englishman, a Northern Irishman, a Welshman and a Scotsman as they battle with the financial crisis of their band, The Union (very fittingly named!).

James-Hillier-in-Im-With-the-Band-2.-Image-by-Jeremy-Abrahams-478x359

Image by Jeremy Abrahams.

Of course, the characters all adhere to the stereotypical, highly “un-PC”, portrayals of their nation’s personalities.  You’ve got the Englishman, played by James Hillier, as domineering head of the band, reluctant to take advice and convinced he’s always right.  Then you’ve got the ditzy Welshman, played by Matthew Bulgo, as a harmless chap with little to no self esteem.  Then of course the recovering drunk and bulshy Irishman (note point, the recovering drunk, bulshy, VERY handsome Irishman) played by Declan Rodgers.  And finally, you’ve got the smart Scot, played by Andy Clark, determined to gain his independence from the rest of the band.  Ringing any bells with our current political climate?

Declan-Rodgers-in-Im-With-the-Band.-Image-by-Jeremy-Abrahams-478x359

Image by Jeremy Abrahams.

Although going down the cliche route may seem like an obvious choice, it does provide a hilarious script.  Adding to that, the cast played each character superbly, and portrayed their character in a clever and interesting way.  My only issue with cliches, is despite them obviously being used for comical purposes, they do tend to frustrate me.  The Englishman and Irishman’s utter refusal to accept the Scotsman’s departure from the band – or let’s say, from the other nations – compared to the Welshman’s indifference was slightly uncomfortable viewing.  Perhaps just a personal point living in Wales, but the constant portrayal of the Welsh nation being “dopey” and not as important a component to political decisions is getting a bit tiresome.  I understand these things are done for dramatic purposes, but it is slightly disheartening that these stereotypes are still prevalent.

Matthew-Bulgo-and-Andy-Clark-in-Im-With-the-Band.-Image-by-Jeremy-Abrahams-478x359

Image by Jeremy Abrahams.

Saying that, Price did not rely solely on these stereotypes to provide a winning story.  Told not only through spoken script but also live music, the show was energetic, fast-paced and incredibly witty.  Each scene was introduced as a title of one of the band’s tracks, projected on a screen behind the stage.  I thought this was a really quirky approach, and something I appreciated a lot!  All four characters had equal “stage time”, and were all equally talented.  Clark played a strong character, battling with his journey to independence – a difficult road for the Scotsman.  Price exposed it as a problematic path, with many bumps along the way; really, it only scratched the surface Scottish independence, but for the purpose of this play, I believe it did the job.

James-Hillier-and-Matthew-Bulgo-in-Im-With-the-Band.-Image-by-Jeremy-Abrahams-478x359

Image by Jeremy Abrahams.

Price’s aim for the production was not to say whether Scottish independence is a good or bad idea: it was to highlight the emotional, physical and psychological impacts on the other nations.  And this he does exceptionally.  That is why it was not necessary for him to delve into the history and facts of the movement.  What Price delivered was an inventive and though-provoking piece of work that left you with a different opinion every time you thought of it.  Political undertones aside, it was also fantastically funny, and a play I would happily see again and again.

A BEAUTIFUL WEEKEND FOR THE ARTS THANKS TO TAKEOVER CARDIFF..

As you might have guessed from my recent posts, I’ve been pretty excited for Saturday’s Takeover Cardiff.  And rightly so – it was a fantastic idea.  I believe arts and culture are vital to society, and to be able to inspire and engage with young people in this way is fundamental to ensure that a love of the arts never dies.

The event was a huge success.  Every venue was buzzing with crowds of spectators, and social media was going mad for the whole thing.  It was touching to see such beautiful work by these young curators, showcasing their creativity and passion in Wales’ most iconic venues.

Kicking off at The Senedd…

The event kicked off at the Senedd, with a brass band playing as the seats quickly filled.  People of all different ages congregated in The National Assembly Building – including many young kids that might have never visited it before!  As the fanfair came to a close and the crowd hushed, Deputy Presiding Officer David Melding took to the stage.  His speech played homage to the vibrant culture and confident youth of today, and how fantastic it was to see young people take over the political and cultural venues of Cardiff.  I couldn’t agree more.

Following his speech, young critic Ethan Evans delivered a moving, poetic speech of his own.  His words floated across the Senedd and left the audience in awe.  It was amazing to hear such a young person speak with such poise, elegance and linguistic talent.

After an introduction from Young People’s Laureate for Wales, Martin Daws, it was then time for the children of Literature Wales to take to the floor.  This 16 person bilingual poem was performed to a steady drumbeat, with the children performing solo, in pairs and as a whole group.  It was dynamic and sincere, encapsulating the beauty of Wales and what it meant to these incredible children.  One particularly beautiful metaphor came from a young boy from Napal, who described climbing on the back of the Welsh dragon, giving him courage and flying him back home.  With references to Welsh cakes, daffodils and the nation’s favourite sport, the poem was wonderful to watch, transporting each and every member of the audience back to their dearest memories of their country.

Next up were street dance team Rubicon.  The all-female group performed an exciting Ethiopian Street Dance, with carnival-esque music to get the crowd really going.  The dance was lively, fun and exhilarating, with talent in abundance.  You couldn’t help but clap along – and I definitely had to keep myself firmly rooted to my seat to stop jumping up and joining in with the party!   It was a clear hit with the crowd, who’s cheers showed the girls it was a job well done.

The Senedd section of the day finished off with an intimate performance from up and coming singer – songwriter Dan Bettridge.  His folk / american style music was reminiscent of Johnny Cash and John Mayer, with delicate lyrics that left the crowd wanting more.  There with the Young Promoters Network, Dan left a lasting impact on the Senedd – particularly with the younger girls!

On to the Wales Millennium Centre…

Next stop, the Wales Millennium Centre!  Opening the next part of the show was African Dance company, Ballet Nimba.  And what a way to start!  With exceptional music, dance, song and energy, the group had the whole of the WMC up and dancing.  With Welsh participants involved, the group encapsulated joy, spirit and passion, performing a fantastic form of music that may have been unknown to some members of the audience.  By the end, whether you were aware of the music or not, everyone wanted a piece of it.  I could have listened to that showcase all day and night – it was the perfect portrayal of a life free of inhibitions, where beauty and happiness were the only things that mattered.

Following Ballet Nimba was the exquisite Gabrielle Murphy.  Like Dan Bettridge, Gabrielle came to Takeover as part of the Young Promoters Network.  A 17 year old from Treherbert, her voice took the audience away.  Again, she was lyrically superb, with a soulful and exhilarating voice.  I found myself sat there wondering why this fantastic girl didn’t already have a record deal.  The deep and personal songs were touching to hear – and to make the deal even sweeter, Gabrielle came across as a beautiful individual, inside and out.

Next on stage were the Literature Wales team again, introduced by American poet Michael Cirelli (you might remember him from my recent interview).  Michael had been working with the group throughout the week to create this work of art, which the WMC crowd loved just as much as The Senedd did.  It was great to see the confidence and sense of pride of the children on stage; they knew they had created something fantastic!

Closing the WMC was the crowd favourite Rubicon – with (if possible!) even more fire and energy than the first time round!  Again, it was amazing to see the girls once the performance was finished as they soaked in the raucous response from the crowd.  Well done girls – you were out of this world!

Happenings in the Hayes..

Over the The Hayes for the next installment of Takeover.  There was lots going on around the city center, with buskers entertaining the crowds and the Zoom Cymru documentary films playing on a loop in CFQ.  I took myself down to the National Library, for a poetry recital by the YPL and Lit Wales guys.

I expected a calm recital of tender poetry; what I got was entirely different!  The recital came from Michael Cirelli, Martin Daws and Rapper / MC / Singer Songwriter / Scriptwriter / Stand Up Comedy (yep – cracking CV!) Rufus Mufasa.  With topics ranging from hard hitting political raps to love poems about spaghetti, the content was varied and liberating.  Each poet took turns to perform; there were lyrical pieces, spine-tingling songs, theatrical recitals and empowering spoken word showcases.  Rufus wowwed the crowd with her fantastic voice, dipping in and out of Welsh and English.  Martin became a different person with each piece, performing as if it was the most important performance of his life.  Michael was engaging, fun and extremely talented with his words.  They were a terrific trio.  It was like something I had never seen before, and left me inspired.

Next stop on the map was a performance I was personally very excited for – Mutle Mothibe’s powerful showcase with the children of Grassroots.  Held in the perfect venue of the National Museum, the group had a huge crowd ready for them.  For me, this was the highlight of the day.  Watching the Grassroots kids on the side as they prepared, they looked anxious and pretty terrified.  When they took to the stage… well, it was another story.  They presented MC performances, hip hop acts, acoustic renditions of popular songs, incredible singer-songwriters and jaw-dropping dances.  It was a feast of talent – there’s no other way I can describe it.

It wasn’t even the talent that left me so speechless.  For every performer, it was clear how much it meant to them.  With the countless talent-less celebrities filling our TV screens day after day, to see real, raw talent within people who had so much passion was absolutely beautiful to witness.  Particularly with the kids that had written their own work, it was stunning to watch – at times it left me on the verge of tears it was so sublime.  The positive messages resounding in the showcase was truly inspiring and reminded the audience of the brightness and wonder all around us – particularly in an age where all too often the negative aspects of the world weigh people down.

A surprise performance came from Martin Daws joining Mutle on the stage – the two had spent the week under the same hotel roof, and it was evident they had become great friends.  They took to the stage doing what Mutle does best – turning sincere and tender words into pure art.

The showcase ended with a glorious bang, in a collaborative piece between Cardiff and South Africa where everyone joined on stage.  Every single performer here was given a chance to show their fantastic talents to the upbeat crowd – which by now was huge!  The electric atmosphere inside the museum was magnified as instruments were scattered throughout the crowd, ensuring each and every person inside the museum was a part of the party.  It was the perfect end in the perfect venue to a perfect event.

Celebrations in Chapter..

After an inspiring screening of animation students from Oslo, Norway and Newport’s work, the Takeover crowd were invited to enjoy the food and drink of Chapter.  It was a fantastic chance for performers to mix and for connections to be formed.  The atmosphere was incredible – everyone was so proud and empowered by the work they had seen and performed.

I left the night feeling motivated and moved.  To be around such fantastic, inspiring people – not just the performers, but the incredible people that made Takeover Cardiff possible – was an invigorating experience.  It is rare to be around people that share such passion and dedication, and for that, Takeover is an event I will take with me for the rest of my life.

INTRODUCING… MUTLE MOTHIBE: THE SPOKEN WORD ARTIST WITH A DIFFERENCE..

This Saturday will see the first Take Over Cardiff event, a one-day taster where the city’s major cultural venues are handed over to the brightest young talent.

Image

As soon as I heard about the event, I was determined to get involved.  The event, run by The British Council Wales, hopes to engage young performers with their peers, showcasing new and emerging Welsh and International talent.

Kicking off at 11am at the Senedd, the event will take its audience on a journey through all the cultural hubs of Cardiff, with dance, slam poets, musicians and animators exposing their exceptional talent.

Today I met Mutle Mothibe – a South African spoken word artist – for a coffee and a chat.  Mutle will be performing at 4pm at The National Museum Cardiff… and I can’t wait to see his work first hand!

Mutle’s exceptional talent and humble personality is normally showcased as a member of Word N Sound, a spoken word arts organisation in South Africa. His work is topical, thought-provoking and innovative – and I had a fantastic time chatting to him about his inspiration, plans for Take Over and highlights of the event so far… 

Q: Can you tell me a bit more about your work – what does being a spoken word artist include?

 A: Essentially, it’s all about being a poet. However, I don’t just use the spoken word (despite the title!) – I like to incorporate different mediums of multimedia to keep the whole thing fresh and interesting. I’ve been working with Grass Roots (a charity dedicated to 16 – 25 year olds) as a part of their exhibition this Saturday at the Museum, which has been great. It’s my first time overseas – in South Africa I work as part of Word N Sound, a platform bringing together older practitioners of literature with youths, to encourage and inspire them and to give them a sense of the trajectory of a literary career. So this project is very similar, and I’m really happy to be a part of it.

 Q: What inspired you to become a spoken word artist?

 A: I have loved writing since I was in Grade 5 – back then I used it as a form of escapism and expression. It was a medium to express things I had pent up inside. Throughout University, I began to explore the performance side of the art – since then, I just seemed to become a spoken word artist professionally… 10 years and still going strong!

 Q: What does your work tend to be about?

 A: Mostly where I am in my life – be that relationships, social issues, personal struggles… in a nutshell, the things that are effecting me at that time. That’s why it is such a fantastic form of expression. I try to be really creative with the way I project this. I like to use more than just words; I fuse music, dance and images together to create a representation as a whole. This isn’t typical of spoken word artists at all. With my work, you’ll find contemporary dancers on stage, breakdancers, live singers… anything I can incorporate to make the work special.

 For this project, I have been working with 18 – 25 year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds, and have created a piece using the information I have gained from them. We have been holding work shops with them since Monday, through until this Friday at Grass Roots. On Monday, the kids weren’t as keen to get involved. But then we created a video for them (http://bit.ly/1gr0Rlu), showing them what we wanted to do. We showed them the video, and today the workshop was absolutely packed! It was an incredible sight. That shift was the nicest thing for me so far. It was a bit like coaxing the cat… we had to show them how cool it could be, and then just sat back and watched the crowds build!

 Q: Why did you want to get involved with Take Over Cardiff?

 A: I was chosen by the British Council as part of an exchange programme in South Africa. There’s a really interactive relationship here, in which artists from South Africa come to Wales to showcase their work, and vice versa. I know that the British Council would like to see this event extended in the future, and I am excited to hopefully be a part of that.

 Take Over Cardiff is a great way to connect as an artist with other artists. I am staying with two other poets – Michael from New York City and Martin from Wales. It’s fantastic as we feed off one another, and can exchange any tips or advice. It’s great fun to have three creative individuals under one roof.

 Q: Do you think events like Take Over Cardiff are important to promote the arts to a younger audience?

 A: Absolutely, but also on the flip side they expose younger artists to an older generation! We are holding our showcase at the museum – a place normally associated with older individuals. So it will be exciting to give this audience a taste of the work by young individuals from the community, and literally put the talent right in front of their faces. A lot of the kids we are working with thought you had to pay to visit the museum! So I hope this will also open a lot more doors for them in that respect, introducing them to iconic venues around the city.

 Q: What do you hope to get out of your work with Take Over Cardiff?

 A: Firstly, I hope we can create an opportuny for kids to take advantage of – there are a lot of chances waiting for them, particularly in great places like Grass Roots, that I hope we can raise awareness of. Grass Roots provides a safe place for kids to harness any artistic inspiration they have, as well as offering several free courses (such as sound and engineering)!

 For me , the whole experience – seeing how other artists carry out their work and approach their craft – is a great opportunity. All the connections I have already made makes it very worthwhile! The arts community of Wales is so welcoming, and everyone seems really happy to help. There’s a very communal feel to it all – a very different atmosphere to my work in South Africa.

 Q: What can we expect from Saturday’s showcase?

 A: Lots of surprises! When I left South Africa, I had one idea in my head. Since then, it has changed many times! The show as it is now is much more collaborative – but it is still constantly changing. There will be clips scattered throughout for people to watch, as well as break dancing, contemporary movement, live music and singing. Fundamentally, I just want to expose the audience to everything the kids can do!

 Check out Mutle’s video: http://bit.ly/1gr0Rlu 

To take a look at the work Mutle does with Word N Sound, have a look at their website.

 Find out more about Grass Roots Cardiff here.

 For more information on Takeover Cardiff visit the British Council website.

Follow them on Twitter @bcwales, Like ‘British Council Wales’ on Facebook, Hashtag: #TOC #YoungCurators.

CEDAR LAKE BRING THE PARTY TO WALES..

Last night I had the pleasure of visiting the Wales Millennium Centre for the opening night of Cedar Lake – a contemporary ballet group from New York.

The show comes as part of the company’s first UK tour, and was a group I hadn’t heard a great deal about in the past.  At the fresh age of only 10 years old, the advertising around the show portrayed a fun, edgy take on contemporary ballet.  Needless to say, I was excited to see what they had to offer.

The performance was broken down into three separate performances.  Their subject matter remained entirely different, promising a dynamic and varied evening.

Kicking off with Indigo Rose, a piece choreographed by Jirí Kylián, I was immediately blown away by the sheer talent and poise of the dancers gracing the stage.  An explosion of movement catapulted across the floor, with male dancers crossing the stage in pairs.  The strength and timing of their movements was second to none, and grabbed your attention from the opening step.  The strength was combined with a playful nature all the dancers seemed to have – expressive faces and cheeky movements kept the whole thing fresh and entertaining.

CEDARLAKE_7_Large

Photography by Jane Hobson

The duets then turned to male and female performers – an absolute favourite for me when it comes to dance.  There is nothing more romantic than a male and female dancer moving in time, elegantly using one another’s bodies to create sublime movements.  The two duets on stage here were brilliant – the only problem was knowing which one to watch!  The dancers appeared to float across the stage with ease, almost like feathers spiraling through the air.

The highlight of the performance came as a sail-like sheet was brought across the stage, taking over the space.  In a festival like frenzy of dance, the performers created shadows across the sheet, creating a range of different perspectives.  They ducked in and out of the sheet, evoking an exciting and fast paced atmosphere.

CEDARLAKE_2_Large

Photography by Jane Hobson

The manic pace was brought to an abrupt halt in this section’s final scene, in which an eerie feel swept over the theatre.  Dancers halted on stage in active stillness, whilst poignant projections were magnified in the background.  A hush went over the audience, and the lights went out on the stage.

This exciting opening showcased the exceptional talent of the dancers, and the intricate imagination that went into the work.  The sudden change of atmosphere was intriguing, and left me wondering where the company would take the next dance.

The second performance Ten Duets on a theme of Rescue, choreographed by Christine Pite, was a peice that leant more on the contemporary side.  The dance didn’t rely on fancy costumes or exceptional sets; it was a simple dance delicately portraying a potent theme.  As suggested in the title, it included ten powerful duets, all telling a different tale of rescue – a word that portrays so much.  Pite’s focus here was to evoke these same meanings through the movement of the body, scattering fragments of the theme across the stage.  And she certainly did this well – the dance was touching, and portrayed a deep longing and need for help from the dancers.  It was simple but effective.

Although this piece didn’t quite grab me the way Indigo Rose did, that’s not to say I didn’t appreciate it as a beautiful piece of dance.  Due to my own tastes, I prefer the more up-tempo, adventurous side to dance – however, the underlying story of Ten Duets was moving and incredible to watch.

Cedar Lake closed the show with the fantastic Necessity, again, choreographed by Jo Strømgren.  This show-stopper was bursting with energy.  It played homage to the space between words, and the idea that there is a dull necessity to formulate everything we do into words.  Letting go of the controlled and methodical notion of the word, it expressed pure emotion and a disregard to rationality.  This translated on stage into an exciting finale, where a set of letters pegged to a washing line formed a chaotic creation – the dancers performed beneath falling showers of letters, portraying a total indifference to the words displayed on them.

CEDARLAKE_1_Large

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

Photography by Jane Hobson

The total lack of inhibition of the dancers was expressed through a series of group, solo and duet performances, with incredible lifts to leave the audience on the edge of their seats.  The only real way to describe it was that it was like the best party on earth displayed to you on stage.  I desperately wanted to jump on stage with the performers – they evoked unadulterated joy and the ability to totally let go.

The finale was performed to the infectious sound of Charles Aznavour, adding a french and – at times – sensual aroma to the whole show.  Fast paced, thrilling and out of control – it was mesmerizing.

Cedar Lake’s first trip to Cardiff ended to an ear-splitting reception from the crowd.  The dancers seemed humbled and genuinely happy to see such an incredible reception.

I would hugely recommend any dance fans to visit the WMC tonight for the second showing.  The talent on the stage last night was out of this world – it took my breath away.  I left the Centre feeling overwhelmed, happy as larry and overall… incredibly jealous!   Without a doubt I will be keeping my eye on this company from now on – going by last night, they are set to create phenomenal things!