DanceDrama SchoolNorth WestReview

Saligia – Paul McCartney Auditorium, Liverpool

Director: Andrew Hall

Choreography: Andrew Hall, Peter Leung &Daniela Cardim Fonteyne, Thomas Ashton, Dean Lee, Sarah E. Baker, Kane D. Ricca, Arthur Gourounlian, Emma Annetts

Reviewer: Peter Jacobs

Saligia – the name comes from the first letters of the Seven Deadly Sins in Latin – is performed by Third-year BA (Hons) Dance students at LIPA. The show explores not just the Seven Deadly Sins but introduces some virtues and considers the rise, downfall and effects of Lucifer, the archangel who rebelled and was cast from heaven, on humanity.

Eight scenes are presented – Prologue, Diligence, Envy, Lust, Pride, Wrath, Kindness and Humility – by no fewer than eight choreographers – technically nine since one is a partnership. The show also offers ‘a diverse programme … showing elements and fusions of ballet, commercial, contemporary, jazz and tap’. This is a big ask. What they have managed to pull off is a remarkably cohesive show that looks like one conceptual piece.

The predominant style is contemporary, but elements of ballet – notably Diligence and Pride – and theatre dance – the pop video-ish Lust and Wrath – are cleverly threaded through. It is clear that a huge effort has gone into ensuring that styles and themes are woven through the choreography and design, and smooth transitions between scenes have been well considered. The result is satisfyingly well put-together. There are pleasing changes of pace and style. The creation of strong characters – notably the Lucifer/everyman character impressively performed by Eirik Dreyer Sellevoll – and the diverse array of well-conceived costumes (Sophie Bursnoll &Stephanie O’Hara) that create visual links throughout the scenes help with this. Jack Coleman’s striking and bold lighting design is also notable. Saligia achieves its stated creative purpose.

The performances by the large student cast are remarkably good. It is delightful to see these young dancers tackle this diverse and complex choreography and staging with such technical skill and performance ability. Acting is powerful and engaging – strong faces and intense eyes throwing the drama out into the audience and drawing them in. There are dance skills in abundance: they are fluid, synchronous, lyrical, flexible, individual and strong. Partnering, lifts and solos and small group work are worthy of mention. The company are well-rehearsed, committed and absolutely professional. It is also encouraging to see such strong dancers within the male company.

There are several student dance companies out there from some of the best dance schools in the country and – based on this showing from LIPA – this lot are right up there with the best. And these are undergraduate dancers.

Saligia is a one-hour powerhouse of a show. Intelligent, cohesive, well-designed, and engagingly and attractively performed. Consistently entertaining and exciting to watch, Saligia is an unexpectedly thrilling joy from start to finish: a show this reviewer would be happy to see again. Less a ‘showcase’ more a satisfyingly complete work. It will be interesting to see where some of these dancers take their careers. They have chosen a tough, demanding physical and creative path but they are walking strongly down it.

Runs until 27 February

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