ContemporaryDanceNorth East & YorkshireReview

New Ground – Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Leeds

Choreographers: Patricia Okenwa, Wayne Parsons, Amaury Lebrun and a selection of original student solo works

Reviewer: Rich Jevons

New Ground is a showcase of performance from second-year students on the BA (Hons) Dance (Contemporary) programme at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance.

For Patricia Okenwa’s Becoming she explains:

I am interested in the dynamics of pushing beyond where we know is graceful or comfortable in order to be fully present, take up space and find new solutions. The effort involved reveals a beautiful power that needs to be negotiated in relation to others. The dancers are continually searching and leaning towards connection and togetherness, whilst pushing their individual boundaries and discovering new pathways for themselves.

This may seem a tall order for the cast, but they live up to it with frenetic and frantic movement, displaying attraction and repulsion as they couple up. As a kind of light relief, there is a slower and more gentle solo section that manages to take control of the entire stage with aplomb. The Kronos Quartet soundtrack exactly fits the mood of the piece and punctuates the movement.

Wayne Parsons’ Never Did Run Smooth has a compere who narrates the action as if in some kind of bizarre dating game show. So they line up as if on a speed dating night, sometimes met by boxing gloves, at others a lipstick kiss. There is a mix of the comic and erotic with both teasing and fighting, flirting and playfulness in a passionate and powerful form. The performance uses music ironically and plays against its content, from Prince to Nina Simone.

William English’s Horsemeat is a masculine take on Erasure’s A Little Respect. It’s playful and explores the notion of being a male solo dancer. Thilde Hedegaard Andreasen, the aforementioned compere, now reveals a plaintive and ironic singing style combined with comic movement, while Nicole Nevitt appears dressed only in her underwear in a sensual, but at times, painful performance. The final piece in the solo suite is Alice Bowan’s Epiphany in which she attempts to dance on a chair, shuttling around the stage to great effect.

But the highlight of the evening is Amaury Lebrun’s Left Unseen. The entire cast is in perfect unison in this dynamic and inquisitive piece. Blue tops and grey slacks add to the uniformity imposed on the dancers, and timing is a particularly important point in the presentation. A fantastic finale to thoroughly enjoyable evening demonstrating the talent and professionalism of the NSCD students.

Reviewed on 27 November 2018 | Image: Jane Hobson

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