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Nuno Silva: A Darker Shade of Fado

Nuno Silva's 'A Darker Shade of Fado' is a visually beautiful work which seeks to fuse the physicality of soul-bearing Fado music with contemporary dance, and a story of love and jealousy, set in the evocative historical old quarters of Lisbon.

Nuno Silva has worked in opera and musical theatre but is best known for his work with Henri Oguike, Javier de Frutos and Arthur Pita; while Fado has been included in his performances in recent years, this show allows him to fully explore the meeting point between dance and Fado.

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MurleyDance: 'Object of My Affection'

MurleyDance represents an enormous amount of passion, ambition and vision for Artistic Director David Murley; in spite of the challenges of sustaining a touring ballet company in this country, MurleyDance is now in its third year, and on its second nationwide tour with the first of this year's two mixed bills.

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Resolution! Slanjayvah Danza, HOLASZ, LCP Dance Theatre

This triple bill of Resolution! 2014 had a theme of exposure and sexuality running through it, some of which hit the mark and some of which didn’t.

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Probe: 'Running On Empty'

Probe’s Running on Empty offers an eerie world inhabited by three individuals simultaneously detached from and tangled up with one another. Through a combination of music, sung vocals, spoken text, and movement, narratives are suggested, but never explained. The work opens with Probe’s Artistic Director Antonia Grove singing to Scott Smith’s folksy, bluesy sounds. As Grove steps back from the microphone, Greig Cooke’s twisting, articulate movements, punctuated by questions directed at Grove, set the tone for their tangled, convoluted relationship.

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Resolution! Culture Device Dance Project, Rachel Burn, Rag Days

This evening of Resolution! 2014 showcased three very different works: a duet, trio, and quintet with varying approaches to making dance and visions of what dance can be. The first and the last both employed strong colours in their design elements, acting as multicoloured bookends to a monochrome trio in between.

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Resolution! Suse Tietjen, Lucy Palmer Dance, Ihsaan De Banya & Kenny Wing Tao Ho

Suse Tietjen's 'Brother Of Sleep' stood out when I was researching the works in this year's Resolution: somewhere, I came across a blog explaining that Johannes Elias Alder, a fictional Austrian musical genius, was struggling with unrequited love when he was told "a true lover never sleeps", and so took his own life, having resolved never to sleep again. This was certainly a rich story to tackle through abstract dance.

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Resolution! Anecdotal Evidence, Pell Ensemble, Daisy Farris Dance Collective

The Laban crowds were out in force for the first Friday of Resolution 2014, with works by Laban CAT teacher William Aitchison and recent Transitions graduate Daisy Farris - as witnessed by the hearty response to one of William's jokes about Laban graduates at the start of a very mixed night of dance.

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Resolution! Léa Tirabasso, Anything Goes Collective, James Finnemore

In over 13 years of watching Resolution!, this is the first time I've attended the opening night, and fittingly, it encapsulated the essence of Resolution well: a platform for new and young choreographers to experiment, try out new ideas, new collaborations and to take their first steps in choreography.

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Daniel Linehan: Gaze is a Gap is a Ghost

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Cardboard boxes are clustered together and stacked on top of one another across the space. Some stand alone, including one cheekily located on a ledge halfway up the back wall of the Lilian Baylis Studio. An odd assortment of objects nestle among the boxes: a kettle, a hotplate, a bell, a mirror, a silver skull of the kind you might find in those annoyingly colourful shops full of unnecessary, cutesy accessories. In the centre of the space three upright white panels form a large screen for, I assume, video projections.

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Amy Bell & Valentina Golfieri, Aoife McAtamney, Gary Clarke

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This triple bill of Spring Loaded offered three diverse works, all of which delivered. It was an evening dominated by women, a topical occurrence considering the recent and ongoing discussions about the relative lack of high-profile female choreographers, and reflections on the experience of being a woman in the profession. The first two pieces - Amy Bell and Valentina Golfieri’s I Just Close My Eyes: Here Are The Devils and Aoife McAtamney’s softer swells - were choreographed and performed by women, while the third, Cameo Cookie, was choreographed by Gary Clarke but performed (almost) single-handedly by the impressive Eleanor Perry.

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Laïla Diallo: Hold Everything Dear

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Hold Everything Dear, Laïla Diallo's outstanding new work, starts at the end and opens with all of the eight performers sweeping polystyerene peanuts into suitcases, unravelling and stretching out a tangled yellow length of light bulbs, piano-wheeling, bench-moving and paper-picking-up until the stage is clear and everyone is set, focussing on the restricted body of Gabi Froden, on the floor, wrapped in packing tape, labelled FRAGILE. In presenting the end of their journey, the company invited the audience to see how they got there, to rewalk their journey with them.

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Hofesh Shechter: Uprising & The Art of Not Looking Back

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I last saw Hofesh Shechter Company in 2009 in The Choreographer's Cut at The Roundhouse, and the defiant yet gentle opening image of 'Uprising' has stayed with me since then. What I'd forgotten was how the volume of percussion and intensity of movement engulfs your whole being, and compels you to want to move with the seven animalistic creatures sweeping across the stage.

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C-12 Dance Theatre: Shhh!

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Described as a story of love, flying overdue library books, and a dancing librarian, Shhh! celebrates the humble local library. A narrative work with twelve scenes and five performers, C-12 Dance Theatre’s production also employs original music, immersive projection work and movable bookcases to tell a story set in a closing-down library. Telling stories seems a particularly apt choice for a work about libraries, and it soon becomes clear that the library is a space for more than just books. Personal and fictional stories play out as the library is revealed as a space for encounters of both the social and imaginative kind.

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Rubberbandance: Gravity of Center

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The rhythmic, musical, unison movement performed by Rubberbandance's five dancers in the opening of 'Gravity of Center' very much sets up what is to come. They creep and shift throughout the stage as a tight unit, gazing intensly out beyond the audience, and in one moment, Daniel Mayo plunges off the edge of the stage, to be hauled back by the others.

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Mad Dogs Dance Theatre: Dogs Land

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Contemporary dance work can often unsuccessfully dangle somewhere between pure dance and theatre: vague characters and hard-to- follow plots which leave some audience members confused and bored. This is not the case with Dogs Land by Mad Dogs Dance Theatre. This piece of contemporary dance theatre combines hard-hitting and convincing storytelling, with choreography that pushes the boundaries of physicality in astounding and surprising ways. It is multi-layered and engaging for both dance and non-dance audiences, and gives the audience a real insight into the intense and passionate idiosyncrasies that occur inside conflicted relationships.

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Eastman-Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui: Puz/Zle

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Large architectural structures on stage, a rich blend of cultural influences, ambitious universal themes — this is definitely a Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui work. The architectural structures in this instance are large blocks of various shapes and dimensions, puzzle pieces to be put together and taken apart. The performers do just this, manipulating their landscape, arranging and rearranging them to form stairs, walls, columns, corridors, platforms. They run through them, into them, climb up, tumble down, constantly returning to these monoliths for support and purpose. Order and disorder. The term monolith has literal roots, as the work was originally inspired by and performed at an old stone quarry (now used as a performance venue) near Avignon, France. The sense of scale, labour, and a timeworn landscape are still present in this very different setting, and the blocks anchor the work, demarcating and framing the spaces that the performers inhabit.

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English National Ballet: Ecstasy & Death

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If you asked me to devise my ideal triple bill, Jiri Kylian and Roland Petit would be way at the top of the list - and I'm certainly not alone in that. So English National Ballet's first triple bill under Tamara Rojo's leadership is a dream come true, with Jiri Kylian's Petite Mort and Roland Petit's Le Jeune Homme et la Mort. And as English National Ballet is fundamentally a classical ballet company, it was only fitting that the Ecstasy & Death programme concluded with Harald Lander's Études, a quirky insight into the workings of a ballet company.

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Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre

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Ten of the twelve performers are lined up across the back of the stage clutching large cardboard boxes marked ‘FRAGILE’. This label could describe the performers as much as the content of the boxes: dressed in odd assortments of clothes which appear cobbled together, they seem desperate and forlorn as snow falls around them. The vulnerability sensed in the opening of The Rite of Spring gives way to urgency and desperation as Stravinsky’s score takes off. The group pulses and pounds to the visceral thrumming of the music, played live by sister pianists Lidija and Sanja Bizjak, who also arranged the work for four hands. The performers’ commitment to the simple physicality and the intensity of the rhythm is compelling, and this opening sets up an intriguing group psychology. Add a comment

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