WOW! I cannot believe that it has already been two weeks since the launch of Let’s Dance International Frontiers 2017. The programme this year was jam packed with awe-inspiring events. Hats off to the Serendipity team for putting the LDIF17 programme together! I am reminiscing while writing this blog post for you and it feels as if it has only been yesterday that I had been watching performances, engaging in conferences and participating in workshops. A rollercoaster of experiences that made me fall for dance even more! And that is saying a lot!
Signatures was an overwhelmingly wonderful experience to be a part of! It feels nostalgic just thinking about it! Signatures is a platform for developing artists to share their work – (Low key) giving myself (Sekseneutraal) and Hayley Young (Call and Response), a fellow De Montfort University student, a clap for having been given the opportunity to share our work. Not to mention, Si Rawlinson and company’s (Second Nature) and Elisha Hamilton Dance’s (RETALE) shared thought-provoking works that questioned the socio-political concerns of individuals today. (I got to watch their performances because I sneaked in as an audience member after the interval J).
The solo works at Autograph – by Jessica Walker with Grey Matter, also a DMU alumni, Lanre Malaolu of Protocol Dance Company with Hyper-Normal were a delight to watch. Jess’ work confronts her concerns towards the mainstays of Mixed Race Narrative. The development of her work, from seeing her original composition in 2015 Tick the Box, has come a long way! The aesthetic of her work has shifted completely – in a positive way that, she is now developing her own vocabulary or quality of movement per say, in what she calls “dollying”. On the one hand, Lanre’s work explores his internal battles and mental illness. When I read the synopsis for his work, I thought this was going to be an emotional work. And indeed it is! A hunky man, performs his work while expressing melancholic ambience with an injection of wit and humour.
Now, with CLAY, I have one word…SASS! Yinka and Asha were just exquisite! The presentation is just WOW! The exploration flamenco, placed in a context which moulds in with their collective memories and experiences such as religious proscenium of women in biblical figures, created a unique language between them. I must mention the floor hugging couture skirt, with ruffles which behaved extravagantly to Yinka’s movements. I cannot get enough of it! It is also worth mentioning the live accompaniment with the sought after, flamenco guitarist – Guillermo Guillén, the soundscape he was creating uniquely complemented the gestures, the intricate tap sequences, and the relationship between him and the women. After the performance, I was in so much awe that I wanted to get up and start whacking out some flamenco moves. My body felt tense yet filled with so many nostalgic thoughts running through my head. I for one, missed my cultural heritage. I longed for my home. CLAY is one of those performance that becomes close to one’s heart. Very inspiring!
Pauline Mayers for Biography shared an emotionally gripping memoir of her experiences as a developing dancer/artist. What did it mean for a young Black girl like her to audition for Rambert? – to which, in the she got in! What was it like to train as a dancer? What were the successes and challenges she faced? Through her biography, she interrogated the daily anxieties of what it meant to her to be a dancer in her early training and to what it is like to be a dancer now. Injuries are the most frightening news a dancer would receive. It can stop your career at any given moment in time, and you would not even expect it. This is exactly what Pauline has gone through! To see her dancing again, is a delight! She is still lively as ever and in her words “I have still yet to continue developing as an artist”. Artists like Pauline foreground exactly, what us dancers go through on a daily. A subject that is not something we openly discuss. Even the dancers from PHILADANCO could relate! Despite her challenges, she continues to pave her way to sharing work that inspires people. And she does! A truly remarkable composition which we dancers can relate to daily.
Lastly, the cherry on top for this programme – PHILADANCO! I was so enthralled by their performance! The company performed 4 repertoires, starting with the sensual, Between the Lines, then Super 8, that acknowledges our experiences and relationships between each other, both romantic, brotherhood, and community. While Movement for 5, gave a very emotional narrative of five men’s false accusation and imprisonment in 1989, surrounding “The Central Park Five”. And lastly, is Enemy Behind the Gates, a physical furioso of movements and fine technique! OMG, there was not a moment that the dancers could even catch their breath! It was physically demanding! A spectacle! The diversity of the work they produce is significant to what is happening now! Worthy of a standing ovation from the audience.
These are just a few snapshots of what has been a remarkable festival, roll on LDIF18!
Mac Daniel V. Palima
LDIF17 elsewhere on the internet
Yinka Esi Graves – “Inspiration of the Month” Blog Post