A Chance To Check Out Company Chameleon Rehearsals

With only a couple of days to go before the premiere of Company Chameleons exciting new piece ‘Beauty of The Beast’ eager Youth Dance Ambassador Johanna Hadley gets the exciting opportunity to check out the rehearsals. Read on as she shares her experience with us…

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As we sneaked into a warm rehearsal studio, dancers dotted around the studio, seemingly all in their own world, were busy stretching or practicing sections of choreography. In one corner was Anthony Missen, Artistic Director and co-founder of Company Chameleon sat huddled around a laptop screen with composer, Miguel Marin. Short bursts of music played through the speakers, with Anthony and Miguel in deep discussion, before Anthony suddenly walked over to the front of the studio and commenced the next run-through of part of Beauty of the Beast.

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A single dancer lay in the middle of the room, completely still and unmoving, as the almost haunting music began playing. Another dancer wandered into the middle of the studio, staring intensely at the person lay in front of him, before commencing in an emotional duet. Beauty of the Beast follows a group of male friends who are forced to question and reconsider just how far they will go to fit in, whilst exploring their own identity and behavior. I found myself completely captivated, and unable take my eyes off the performance – especially whilst watching the incredibly dark, yet athletic solo performed by Lee Clayden. The emotions and characters portrayed were very thorough, and never only surface-deep – every movement drew you into the story just that little bit more.

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Despite only catching a small snippet of rehearsal, what I did see was captivating, and one can only imagine what the rest of the piece must be like.

Johanna

Company Chameleon Beauty of the Beast premieres this Wednesday 22nd October.

After the Curtain Call: behind the scenes with Company Chameleon

Company Chameleon is Manchester’s only producing and touring dance company and they are the Lowry’s resident company.

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Over the years the Youth Dance Ambassadors have had a really good working relationship with the company. One of the most memorable experiences was back in 2011 when they were rehearsing for “Gameshow” their current tour at the time.

COMPANY CHAMELEON in 'Beauty of the Beast' photo by Brian Slater (2)

The YDA were fortunate enough to be granted access to a rehearsal so we could watch them putting the show together. We then got to have dinner with them and interview them. Over the years we have been granted access to a rehearsal each time they are creating a new piece which has been a great privilege.

COMPANY CHAMELEON in 'Beauty of the Beast' photo by Brian Slater (5)

I always come away from the rehearsals with a smile. The dancers are all really friendly down to earth guys; they are so passionate about dance and the company which they have created. Every show they create is different and they continuously push their boundaries which makes them a very exciting company to go watch as you never know what they are going to come up with next.

COMPANY CHAMELEON in 'Beauty of the Beast' photo by Brian Slater

Beauty of The Beast is a story of hostility and about people deal when confronted with it. Once again Company Chameleon are pushing boundaries and Beauty of The Beast looks set to be the most exciting chapter in their story so far.

Abbie Williams Reviews Beauty and The Beast

New recruit to the Dance Ambassadors Abbie Williams (aged 11) writes about her experiences coming to see Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Beauty and the Beast

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Wednesday 24th September, I was lucky enough to be invited to The Lowry  to watch Beauty and the Beast ballet being performed by the Birmingham Royal Ballet.

As the audience took to their seats the lighting dimmed, the live orchestra began to play as the curtain opened, and the ballet began.

From start to finish the show was totally breath taking, and was full of excitement and graceful movement from the moment Belle took to the stage.

I was really impressed with the costumes the dancers were wearing, and if I had not been lucky enough to go backstage I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate just how delicate the costumes were. In fact one of the dancers explained how old and delicate the costumes were. Going backstage allowed us to get close to the props to see how detailed everything was. It gave me an insight to how a ballet is run by the company from the backstage runners to the performers and I highlighted how everyone had an important role to play. The show itself I enjoyed immensely I was enthralled by the stage set, lighting and sheer brilliance of the dancers. I would defiantly recommend the ballet and other productions by the Birmingham royal ballet to anyone.

Beauty and the Beast is at The Lowry until Sat 27 September: http://www.thelowry.com/event/beauty-and-the-beast1

Coffee With Paulo and Carmen : A Slice of Life With Grupo Corpo

Groupo Corpo is a contemporary dance company forged in the cultural melting pot of Brazil; its traditions, cultures and passions call out through the music and movement of this celebrated company. Founded in 1975 by Paulo Pederneiras, and based in the city of Belo Horizonte, the company gives 80 performances all over the world.

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The dancers all come to the company with a strong technique; often the result of a background in classical dance training. Daily ballet classes are attended by all members of the company and this classical movement vocabulary is the rigid backbone of the dancers; their sissonnes, attitudes and their cambré back press lifts. Through choreography and workshop sessions this is manipulated and developed, movement is brought to the dancer’s hips, a focus is placed on the grounding of the work and the ethereal poise of their ballet technique transforms into a scintillating blend of grace, rhythm and athleticism; in short it becomes Brazil.

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Each dancer comes to the company with their own dance history which runs through their blood and is ingrained in their movement quality. Instead of forcing dance onto their bodies, house chorographer Rodrigo Pederneiras, gets to know the dancers natural movement style and uses these corporeal idiosyncrasies in his choreographic sessions.This is a company where the dancers are valued and respected, there is no first dancer and no hierarchy for the performers which creates a sense of family and a wonderful creative atmosphere. As a result many of the dancers stay with the company for the majority of their career, rehearsal director Carmen Purri’s role in Grupo Corpo has progressed through the performance element to the creative team behind the work.

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Just as rhythm is synonymous with Brazilian culture, musicality is at the heart of Grupo Corpo. It has been said, Choreographer Rodrigo has a unique connection with the music, audiences often comment on how the dance appears to be a moving music score, a statement reminiscent of the famous Balanchine quote ‘See the music, hear the dance’. Inevitbly new dancers are often intimidated upon entering the ranks of the company as the level of musicality is so high, it takes time to attune their ear to the standard required.

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With such strong musicality and high level technique inevitably comes a demanding rehearsal process. It is of great importance that the dancers display high levels of precision due to the fluidity of the movement. While this may seem a contradiction in terms the fear with elegant unbroken movement is that any one dancer, one arm movement, one toe out of time will make the performance seem messy. To ensure the choreography is not lost, precision is the key. Each rehearsal is recorded with every inaccuracy noted, by Carmen, the following day a one hour correction rehearsal is held to iron out issues.

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The two pieces that will be performed in the company’s UK tour this autumn, Sem Mim and Parabelo provoke two very different moods to the evening’s performance. The music of Sem Mim is based on a narrative poem set by the sea. The contrast between calm and fury, the longing and the ever-flowing waves are seen through the quality, motion and rhythm of the movement, and dynamics between the dancers. Parabelo takes its influence from North East Brazil, and the rural communities therein; rhythm, traditional instruments, chants and feet stamping make this make this high energy contemporary dance come alive with Brazil.

Grupo Corpo will be at The Lowry on Fri 17 and Sat 18 October.

A Viennese whirl

Following a successful Parisian trip in late 2013 The Lowry’s Leah and Charlie fly the flag for #danceanywhere in Austria.

A Leah’s eye view.

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After a lazy train journey, and an uneventful plane ride Charlie and I arrive in Vienna airport. Bags at our feet and a set of Austrian train tickets in our hands. German/Austrian trains are my favorite in Europe (you are talking to a seasoned inter-railer here, I’ll have you know) and after I had enthused about the individual train compartments and adjustable seats, I was pleased to see I had not misremembered, and we cruised into the small Austrian town of St. Polten in style. If you were suspecting that this journey had seemed a little too easy, you were right. The ten minute walk to our hotel we were assured would be easy to find, became a fifty minute ramble up and down the same road, asking bemused locals who were determined our destination was easy to find…. just around the next corner in fact…. ended in a desperate phone call to our counterparts at Dance Consortium who were already in the city. As is standard practice with these trips it was a quick shower and change, a chance to show off the one German word I remember from school when searching for the rooms (“hey it says ‘zimmer’ this way!”) and within twenty minutes we were in a restaurant with the rest of the Dance Consortium team chatting away into the evening.

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The next morning it was an early start as we headed across town to the hotel Grupo Corpo, the dance company we had come to see, were calling home. Here I sat in on interviews with the set/lighting designer Paolo and rehearsal director Carmen. After writing up my notes, we headed into the town for our usual round of #danceanywhere pictures.

Then it was back to the theatre for our exclusive interview with some of the dancers; three members of the company who were downright lovely. All with fascinating perspectives on performing and the dancing world, a real insight for both dancers, dance lovers and novices alike. The dancers, all ready for their dress rehearsal were clothed in nude long-sleeved catsuits, onto which were painted a myriad of curious designs. These gave the illusion of full body tattoos, and were individually created for each performer according to their tastes and personality. For the full interviews stay tuned for my blog Coffee with Paolo and Carmen that will be published later in the year, and our film interview with the dancers.

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I would, however, like to take this time for a brief interlude from my narrative and tell you an interesting story of our time with the dancers:

A quick delve into my recent past and you will see I studied a MA in Dance Anthropology, so dance history and culture are very much my thing. After that brief prologue I come to my Dance Anthropology story of the year;
During our interview Charlie and I asked the dancers; out of the two pieces they were due to perform which was their favorite. The reply was a unanimous, ‘Parabelo’. When pressed on their choice, the three dancers enthusiastically told us the dance was ‘very Brazilian’, they felt it in their blood and their bones and for them it was a dance of freedom. Fast forward a few hours as the house lights rise following the first piece. “That one must have been Parabelo” Charlie and I gushed, their rhythm, the way they moved we completely understood what they had been telling us a few hours earlier. After a brief interval we were ready for the second piece. The house lights dimmed and the stage lights rose, and the second piece was full of carnival colours, fast music, high kicks, flowing arms, whoops and cheers. Aaah, that’s the Brazilian one, we thought, and true enough Parabelo was the second piece of the evening.

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The whole performance was simply beautiful. Sem Mim, the first dance of the evening, was without doubt one of the best pieces of dance I have seen on stage. Performed under a fisherman’s net, based on stories of the sea and danced to music composed in the thirteenth century; take all the images that come to your mind from this description and dash them, this dance is like nothing you will be picturing. The simplicity of the set perfectly complimented the hypnotic movement material, the dancers moved seamlessly between solos, duets, and ensemble work creating a piece that seemed to flow on forever. At no point were not watching any one dance; you were watching choreography come to life and it was mesmerizing. Parabelo, the Brazilian one (!) was alive with the sights and sounds of Brazil; rhythmic hips and sensual arms the dance flowed through their bodies and poured out onto the stage.

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We left the theatre attempting Brazilian dances of our own, legs flying at odd angles, hips moving to the rhythm that stayed in our heads long after the applause had finished, and with calls of ‘oooh I loved it when they did this’ we headed off into the night.

Grupo Corpo will be at The Lowry in mid-October. This is a show I would recommend to anyone and everyone, there are just two key points to remember 1) It is not what you imagine 2) the second piece in the ‘Brazilian’ one!

Review: Flash Mob

Last night we sent Youth dance Ambassador Ellie Wares, to see Flash Mob in The Lowry’s Lyric Theatre. Armed with notebook, pen and a whole load of enthusiasm her task was to review the show for us… here is what she had to say;Kevin-Clifton-Karen-Hauer-definitive

What can I say about this show other than WOW !!!!!!!!!

Totally totally brilliant from start to finish. This was a show in two different halves. The first half was a love story, and the second set in a club with each of the dancers showcasing their talents.Alleviate in blue Flash MobDSC_6693Flash Mob is a fusion of street dance from the Flawless crew, Ballroom and Latin from Kevin Clifton and Karen Hauer, Irish dance with a twist from Brosena and contemporary and modern (with a bit of comedy thrown in) from Alleviate and Tommy Franzen. FLAWLESS GROUP-ART2

Without exception the dancing was brilliant, the choreography tight and the company worked well together mixing the different styles of dance seamlessly. It was a fabulous night, which ended with everyone up on their feet and dancing.

FLASH MOB cast finale DSC_6837Wish I was going again tomorrow night. What a shame it’s only at the Lowry for two nights.

Flash Mob is on tour until 2 August – it is a must see for dance fans.

Ellie Wares
Youth Dance Ambassador

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The Spotters Guide To: Contemporary Dance

We will soon be welcoming Flash Mob; where a whole host of dance styles will burst onto the stage in a blaze of colour and light. To prepare we have compiled a guidebook of dance styles just for you! The Dance Ambassador Champions have taken it upon ourselves to wade through the undergrowth of dance genres, set up camp and speak only in hushed tones we mimicked from Bill Oddie. Armed with notebook, foldable desk and a paraffin lamp our champions observed dance styles in their natural habitat; origins, costumes and key members of the pack you may recognise. This is our Spotters Guide to Dance

Our third voyager into the deepest depths of dance is Danielle Pollitt- Walmsley, who introduces us to contemporary dance.

 
Background and Origins
All you need is passion
Contemporary dance… there are many stereo types within dance and contemporary is no exception to the rule; but what do you really need to be a contemporary dancer and what does it involve?
Dance can be an expensive hobby with all the clothes and shoes but for contemporary dance all you need is a passion then you can begin. In contemporary dance there is a very wide range of styles. It originated in the early 20th century in America and formed as a reaction to the rigid technique of classical ballet, giving dancers more freedom to explore their dance.

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Styles and Key Movement
I train on the Lowry CAT scheme (Centre for advanced training in dance) and we study the Cunningham technique that involves lots of creative freedom and the change for the audience to interpret the performance themselves with no set storyline to portray, however each company has a slightly different style and influences that impact upon the style of movement.
Within this style of dance you can never be wrong and you just need to feel all the moves coming from within. Therefore many dancers begin choreography by improvising with their eyes closed which is a method I personally feel is important as you don’t think about people watching or what the move looks like but rather the feeling and impulse that is creating the move.
Famous styles

 

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Cunningham- promoting easy movement, it uses a Chinese idea of casting your fortune on a hexagram that is portrayed in dance as using a chance series of movements it focuses on the architecture of the body in the space.
Graham- focuses on the idea of contraction, it is very grounded and uses some fall and release and recover
Limon- Uses the weight of the body and the affect of gravity
Watch out for Alleviate the amazing contemporary duo who are fiery and strong but breath-taking, after their performance in Got To Dance they are now appearing in Flashmob!

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