With the warmer weather and bank holidays throughout this month, summer vibes are already in the air! We are looking forward to spreading the joy of dance beyond the walls of the Jerwood DanceHouse this summer. Just before we move into a new season of activity at DanceEast, we wanted to reflect on the fabulous Spring Season we’ve had.
In February, we launched the season with a sold-out show Lore, by James Wilton Dance, a folklore-inspired journey that delved into the pagan world of nature and gods. It was amazing to see the theatre packed out for the first show of the season and lovely to welcome back James Wilton (and his very cute dog!).
Our spring programme was packed with a great range of opportunities for families and children to get involved. It’s great to see more dance work being created for under 5’s and choreographer Xenia Aidonopoulou is excelling in this area! We hosted Underwater by Xenia Aidonopoulou and Georgia Tegou, which was a magical journey delving into the deep blue sea, created especially for babies aged 0-2. Following on from the success of autumn, our Mini Movers sessions continued at Hadleigh and Thurston Libraries. We also hosted a sold-out spring-themed Baby Loves to Boogie. The family friendly disco filled the theatre with colour, bubbles, plenty of joyful little faces and happy feet!
In February, we welcomed four dance artists to the ART // TECH // PLAY practice day with Collusion in DanceEast’s green screen Ashton Studio. Chris Pavia, Symoné, Rachel Canavan and Ivan Blackstock had the opportunity to learn how to generate visual effects using sensors, green screen, and virtual production technologies. The day was a chance to ask the Collusion team, and our technicians, questions and unpick their brains. We were really excited by the creative ideas this sparked on how they could apply this technology to their practice.
It has been wonderful to welcome back school groups to our theatre and we were able to share the beautiful show Little Murmur by Aakash Odedra with local schools. Combining visual design and technology with dance and humour, the performance explored the trials and tribulations of living with dyslexia, facing challenges and overcoming the odds. It was lovely to hear some of the reflections and wisdom from primary school students who saw the show:
“I learnt so much. You can be who you want to be!”
“It must be hard to have dyslexia but you can find a way to control how you feel when you get things wrong”
“If you have dyslexia, you still have lots of ideas. You could be a very good dancer and show your feelings with your body”
The natural world appeared as a key theme throughout the performances this spring, with both Flexer & Sandiland’s Imagining Otherwise and Scottish Dance Theatre’s Double Bill including imagery and symbols from nature throughout. The Flock by choreographer Roser López Espinosa from the Double Bill was a stunning piece inspired by migrations of birds. The dancers all worked in unison to create a flock with their arms outstretched like wings, communicating the strong physicality and mesmerising phenomena of birds in flight.
In March, young people from across the region filled the Jerwood DanceHouse with their energy, enthusiasm, and team spirit for U.Dance East. Groups from across the East of England took part in the first stage of the platform, at either DanceEast or at the University of Bedford, and experienced a full day of workshops, a careers panel, and other activities. In the evening, they took to the stage to perform a variety of dance styles including Contemporary, Street Dance, Ballroom and Latin, South Asian Dance, and were judged by an industry panel to decide who went through to U.Dance National, in partnership with One Dance UK.
Over the April half term, the CAT students had an exciting week on their Spring Intensive. They had three days in the studios working with a selection of amazing choreographers, learning and developing choreography for their CAT End of Year show in July. We can’t wait to see the final pieces at the End of Year show in July!
In April half term, we also hosted Let’s Dance! Holiday Club for local children aged 4 -11 on free school meals. It was great to see the group enjoy learning dance, building their confidence and developing fresh new skills.
At the end of April, Alleyne Dance brought Far From Home to the stage, a poignant abstract piece exploring the topic of immigration. The piece highlighted the emotional and mental stresses of migrant families as well as including a community cast made up of local dancers of different ages. Hear the lovely feedback from the community cast:
“Working with Sade and Kristina and the rest of the Alleyne Dance Company was a truly unforgettable experience”
“I felt totally valued, the process was creative and inclusive, and I loved being part of such an international ensemble of lovely people.”
“The opportunity to dance with people from all around the world was so exciting, I have learnt so much.”
We closed the season with an electrifying performance of Mama, from Botis Seva. We were lucky enough to witness this powerful new work from Botis early on in the tour.
Another small success this season was the re-launch of our TikTok channel. We have had some fun getting this back up and running, filming content and jumping on the trends (check out our Wes Anderson inspired video here). Follow @danceeast for more videos and staff cameos!
Interested in finding out what we have coming up? Discover what’s on this summer here.
If you missed our performances this season, keep your eyes peeled for our Autumn season coming soon!
Photos by: Alexander Ward and Camilla Greenwell