Hull Dance Prize 2013 - Big Hit with Audience at Hull Truck Studio Theatre - Thursday 3rd October 2013
By Michelle Dee.
Hull Dance Prize 2013, organised by Hull Dance, saw six Contemporary Dance performers/companies battling it out in the
Studio Theatre at Hull Truck, to a capacity crowd.
Hosted by the jovial 'he gets everywhere' David Burns from the popular BBC Radio Humberside programme, The Burnsy Show.
The winners would be decided by an expert panel of judges and receive a cheque for £1,500.
The audience would also have their say on the outcome, and voting by way of keypads, would award a cheque of £1,000.
This kind of money could be hugely beneficial to a dancer or to a company; it could help studio costs; open doors that
were hitherto closed or simply allow the dancer to continue doing what they love.
With the culture spotlight firmly fixed on contemporary dance for a night, the first performer takes to the stage. Jon Beney used to be a sportsman before turning to dance.
He begins his piece inside a muslin sack from which he emerges born and reborne into this new life. The sense of growth is reinforced from the VT images projected on the screen behind him, showing him as the doting dad with his kids, playing on the Marina.
Was that a calculated move, like an X Factor back story or am I being too cynical? Jon had a very masculine presence; athletic,
muscular and strong. I felt the latter part of his composition fell down, and the final
'I'm not a superhero pushing against the wall' routine, although reminiscent of the scrummage, stopped working for me.
Second to perform in front of the judges and the audience, was Curve Contemporary Dance.
The dancers chose a familiar theme with which to showcase their work.
The trawler industry that once thrived in the city, was indicated with the nets as the trio danced, re-imagining the hauling in of the catch.
The musical accompaniment, a traditional sea shanty, provided a way in to the story but the desire to tell the story, perhaps got in the way of the dance. The moves and sequences were not altogether synchronised or poses held perfectly still and I wasn't sure about the waiting pot - a watched pot never boils? The meaning behind the symbolism evaded me.
It is worth remembering that Curve are a relatively new dance company and will surely learn and return stronger in future performances and competition.
The third act was one for the purists. Cross-cultural/cross-discipline Spyridoula Dance's every move was beautifully interpreted; every gesture, every spin polished.
Dancing not just with body but with characterful eyes, all the while being accompanied by a cellist who also moved, deftly
spinning the cello this way and that. There was real depth of emotion with this triptych composition based on historical story-telling.
There was something reminiscent of the cherry blossom of the Miyako Odori ( (Japanese Spring Dances) as crimson rose petals, pulled from
the air as if by magic rose and fell and again, she lay prone; dead. Deeply moving and evocative,
highly professional and wonderfully soundtracked and choreographed.
And now a tent. I kid you not. Tweeted by Burnsy earlier in the day, there is now a blue tent situated stage right. A disco ball spins inside and legs appear; such expressive feet.
The sight of disembodied legs dancing in time to the music causes eruptions of laughter and the audience to relax; perhaps for the
first time tonight.
Another laugh crescendos as the tent moves unaided across the floor. Inside the tent is the owner of the dancing legs,
and the one doing the tent pushing is Jo Ashbridge (choreographer and curator of Danza!)
Emerging from the tent she does some very impressive hula-hooping work with what must be the largest hoop I've ever seen. Effortlessly she keeps the ring spinning whilst performing stylized doll-like moves with her arms and legs. This solo piece showed undoubtable skill, comic timing, fresh ideas and imagination.
Fifth to face the judges and the audience was NSDance and a piece called The Human-ness of Awkwardness. An array of objects, some more or less embarrassing than the one preceding them, was set out stage front.
The 'I'm not really on stage' - suspension of performance-device is a powerful one, it works well with an audience, and NSDance employ it well.
The duo proceeded to dance, not wishing to make contact with each other, not finding their hold. Their movements were indeed awkward and blundering as one then the other attempted to initiate a sequence and the other completely misreading it; intentionally I might add.
As the dance came to a close they found a one-ness that perhaps was suggesting something as profound as how difference and adversity could be overcome and balance and cohesion could be found through perseverance.
The final piece for consideration was by Non-Applicables. Now familiar with their dance-theatre approach to the contemporary form, I was fully prepared for a lesson in the body beautiful.
The two dancers, dressed as dinner ladies, explored the nature of the dieting industry and its relationship with food. A trademark quick change of costume and the two are now body builders, each flexing and posing, as these body-obsessives do.
Then comes the clever bit; the observation on society's norms and values that are central to the Non-Applicables body of work.
Taking a marker pen one then the other draws on their bodies Legs, arms, torsos, all circled and highlighted.
The result is the body compartmentalised - much like the picture of different joints and cuts you see at the butchers shop.
The piece comments on the nature of the body, not as an innately precious thing, but as a commodity. And whether weightlifting, in spangly dresses to the sound of the Rolling Stones' Pump it Up, is some post modern comment on feminism I don't know, but it sure was fun.
And the Winner is:
NSDance. The new company of Natalie Randall and Stephanie Potter, with their quirky,
unusual composition, The Human-ness of Awkwardness swept the board, winning both the Judges' Prize and the Audience Award.
I caught up with NSDance the next day and asked how they were feeling after the win:
Still recovering from the shock of the evening. Can honestly say that we were not expecting that result!
As I said, we really weren't expecting to win either of the prizes. And didn't enter the prize with the competition in mind.
Because we are such a new and inexperienced company, we just saw it as a performance opportunity.
However winning both votes fills us with confidence in our company, our abilities and further future prospects.
To have recognition from such an established set of judges also feels particularly rewarding, and we would like to thank them for their feedback.
The prize money will facilitate the company in every possible way.
We would like to use the money for promotional and marketing reasons as well as rehearsal space and general expenses such as travel and touring opportunities.
We are planning on developing the human-ness of awkward-ness, potentially making a new work and touring as NSDance company.
We are currently applying for all types of dance platforms across England and hope to showcase our work at various venues.
NSDance would just like to say what an honour it was to dance along side such established artists and we hope that the prize provokes more dance
opportunities like this in Hull for the future.
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They've performed everywhere from the Boathouse to the Hotel Tower Ballroom (maybe not, that was Jake and Elwood), five have taken part in the Edinburgh Fringe, and between them they have amassed seven published works, in a relatively short space of time.
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converted office block at No 94 Alfred Gelder Street in Hull city centre. Unusual theatre, immersive theatre,
interactive theatre is making all the traditional theatre practitioners sit up and take notice.
Just as audiences want to interact with news and entertainment online, so they want to be part of the story in theatre.
Reviews, Art Breakthrough for Community Art in Hull By Michelle Dee.
It does feel like something of a breakthrough; Community artists gaining recognition through having work displayed in the
same way countless established artists have before them. I am of course talking about Hull Art Top 20 Exhibition,
showing at Art Link on Princes Avenue until 24th August 2013.
Reviews, Art Rhythm is a Danza! By Dark Clerk Photos by Philip Rhodes.
I'm shouting in a gallery, I'm shouting in a gallery, just one of the many taboos that dancer/performer Ellen Turner broke at Danza! in Hull. Ellen delivered an outrageous finale, to a rip-roaring third annual Danza! the Contemporary Dance event this year gravitating from Fruit to the Live Art Space at Ferens Gallery. Whereas live music in the city and theatre is enjoying a popular resurgence, dance is still under-represented in the city.
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Mike Watts' second collection is darker than his debut, dealing with relationships, sex, debts and the difficulty of chasing your dreams while still making ends meet.
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Reviews, Theatre Michael Black's New Play Pride Debuts at Adelphi - Tuesday 18th June 2013 By Michelle Dee
'No-one will love you - you will be alone forever'
The new play Pride by Michael Black conjures up images of the barbaric treatment of homosexuality in the latter half of the 20th Century; a play that explores issues of societal division, segregation and rejection which are as relevant today as they were then.
It is appalling to think that from 1950 and then for the next three decades, Behavioural Aversion Therapy was being administered to homosexuals in NHS hospitals across the country.
Reviews, Books - Day and Night in the Damaged Goods Factory by Mike Watts Reviewed by Terry Ireland
Just spent an hour dipping in and out Day and Night in the Damaged Goods Factory by Mike Watts. Always did like his style - no words wasted, tight and sparse. Controversial at times but always readable.
Really enjoyed. Another good 'un Mike.
Looking forward to hearing some of them performed. Mike is a superb performance poet that I have had the privilege of working with and attending his work shops. I can hear his voice in every poem.
Reviews, Books - Day and Night in the Damaged Goods Factory by Mike Watts Reviewed by Michelle Dee
Day and Night in the Damaged Goods Factory crashes through life in quick-fire stanzas that whack the unsuspecting reader over the head.
This, his second anthology available now at Waterstones Hull, sees the popular writer flexing muscles, girding loins, easing into the
self-made role of Hull street poet.
The poems are accessible, something you can pick up during a cigarette break and immediately share in a sense of solidarity.
You and he versus the rest of 'em.
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Crisis can strike at any time as the television is so fond of telling us.
It can take many different forms but the important thing is how you respond. Do you have the tools in the locker to manage the crisis to recover; to survive?
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What is an all too familiar set of circumstances: a family torn apart
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If it is possible for poetry to rock a room, then on Wednesday Joe and Mike did just that.
It was author Russ Litten's book launch and a crowd of authors, poets, theatre-makers, movers and shakers from the Arts scene in Hull
including local press and radio, all gathered to celebrate the release of Swear Down, Litten's second novel,
but his first foray into crime-writing. The night was held at the popular drinking emporium,
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It has been years since I saw a school production. I remember my own performances as an overfed urchin, an unfunny jester and as a witch-doctor, with a mixture of nostalgic pride laced with pangs of sheer terror.
A friend's two daughters were in tonight's show, so I took my seat in the school hall dutifully: poised to cheer and applaud in all the right places.
Reviews, Art Sunday March 4th 2013 - Northern Elements at Fruit By Terry Ireland.
It was an evening of poetry
Of four different styles
An evening of belly laughs
And wry gentle smiles
As each of the ladies
In their own special way Read more...
Reviews, Art Sunday March 4th 2013 - Kate Fox Standing Up for Hull Poets By Michelle Dee.
Stand-up poetry or spoken word, call it what you will, is on the rise in Hull. Joe Hakim, curator for Northern Elements, said as much at the Kate Fox show held on Sunday night at Fruit. You can't fail to have noticed the many venues and night dedicated to this vibrant versatile and increasingly popular art form. Poetry is everywhere.
Whether it is mixed in on a variety billing of live music and theatre,
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Photographs by Cilla Wykes
Tonight's poetry performance was the culmination of three years effort, to bring the highly respected Californian writer Fred Voss to Hull.
All week I'd been hearing reverential murmurings about the two visiting poets, particularly from the writers in my midst.
Wearing dark shades, dressed in black from head to toe, the flame haired Joan Jobe-Smith,
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Photographs by Cilla Wykes
In recent years, film and theatre reviews have become littered with the following: Spoiler Alert! So what can I tell you about
Theatre Brothel 2.0
without giving the game away?
The Theatre Brothel experience begins as you walk the back corridors and passageways of the theatre. Which two of the four shows you
got to see in any given night, depended on what answers you gave to some probing questions.
Reviews, Theatre Tuesday 3rd July 2012 - Hannah Silva and Helen Mort at Fruit - Humber Mouth Literature Festival By Michelle Dee
Photographs by Cilla Wykes
Not very often I'm lost for words after a performance. I can usually begin to frame my response, think in terms of genre, style, influences.
Not so for Hannah Silva. Ghost Running was a special collaborative spoken word performance with renowned Yorkshire poet Helen Mort,
and took place at Fruit in Hull's historic Fruit market area, for the Humbermouth Literature Festival.
Reviews, Theatre Monday 2nd July 2012 - Ross Sutherland: The Three Stigmata of Pacman at Fruit - Humber Mouth Literature Festival By Michelle Dee
Photographs by Cilla Wykes
The annual Humber Mouth Literature Festival in Hull moved into its second week; a week filled with innovative and acclaimed spoken word artists curated by Write to Speak and Fresh Ink in the Hard Rhymes & Great Exclamations strand of the festival.
The performers are arriving in Hull from as far afield as York, Devon, Los Angeles