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.

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.

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.

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.

Sem Mim 2

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.

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!


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