Brunswick & Woburn Squares WC1
10.30am, 11.30am, 12.30pm, 2.30pm, 3.30pm, 4.30pm
Queen & Gordon Squares WC1
11am, 12pm, 1pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm
Review by Carole Woddis of performance seen Oct 9, 2011
One-off, and one very special event.
Dance Umbrella has been going for 33 years. Founded in 1978 by former Rambert dancer Val Bourne, its aim has always been to encourage and showcase the best of contemporary dance. Over three decades it has grown and matured but at its heart, as its website says, lies the belief that everyone should experience dance.
Rosemary Lee’s Square Dances is the nearest thing I can imagine to fulfilling that goal. Lee has been choreographing for twenty years and specialises in what is loosely termed `community’ dance or what she prefers to call, like the title of her piece last year for Dance Umbrella, Common Dance. For Lee it is about `making something to share.’ And how she succeeds!
On a warmish October afternoon, this year’s commission, Square Dances took us into four Bloomsbury Squares.
On an hour time-loop that saw the dancers performing, then resting then re-performing 45 minutes later, I watched 100 women in Gordon Square in groups – or `flocks’ – of 10 dance in a series of gently modulating, sometimes quick, bursting movements that at once celebrated the sky above, the trees around and delivered a meditation on individual and collective endeavour. On they came in waves, small hand held bells providing an accompaniment but also an echo of something just beyond our reach.
In the nearby Woburn Square, a dozen or so young children, like small animals huddled, regrouped, jumped with beguiling freedom and utmost concentration.
Lee’s genius – and I use the word carefully – is to modulate and sculpt her choreography to the dancers before her with a simplicity that makes the movement seem wholly natural and life-enhancing, for participant and spectator alike.
Drawing her dancers from a range of sources – mostly untrained except for the Queen Square performance danced by students from The Place – the performances that emerge are astounding, nowhere more so than in the piece designed for the male ensemble.
Starting with celebratory arms aloft, around a huge oak tree, imperceptibly and to the tolling of a deep-sounding bell, each dancer gradually fell to earth – a heartbreaking, silent and exquisitely controlled metaphor for our journey through life, from birth to death. Beckett would have loved it. Simply stunning.
Gordon Square performers:
Laura Adams, Beth Alena, Ana Andrade, Sophie Arstall, Rachel Attfield, Antigone Avdi, Amparo Badiola, Jill Bailey, Jo Bailey, Elizabeth Barker, Monica Brunello, Robyn Cabaret, Karen Callaghan, Iris Yi Po Chan, Vanessa Cook, Jia-Yu Corti, Charlotte Darbyshire, Clare Davies, Francesca Di Fonzo, Teresa Earle, Alchurek Esenalieva, Natasha Evans, Melanie Farolfi, Lucy Fawcett, Ayaka Furukawa, Jill Gale, Camila Ganc, Rachel Gildea, Sian Goldby, Sarah Golding, Gaia Gozzo, Alexandra Green, Laura Greenhalgh, Rhyanne Hall, Sarah Hall-Craggs, Philippa Hambly, Julie Havelund, Joy Heafford, Joanne Hensman, Ella Horton Chandler, Jenna Hubbard, Aneta Hymka, Katsura Isobe, Justyna Janiszewska, Beatrice Jarvis, Sarah Kent, Evangelia Kolyra, Helga Kutter, Pui Sai Kwok, Sinikka Kyllönen, Elsie Lam, Agnese Lanza, Amanda Louise Linge, Ella Macfadyen, Penelope MacInnes, Heidi Mettiainen, Lucy Moelwyn-Hughes, Angeles Mondragon, Gillian Moore, Catarina Moreno, Philippa Newis, Juri Nishi, Katja Nyqvist, Martha Oakes, Sue Oke, Beverley KayPalmer, Anastasia Papaeleftheriadou, Ioanna Papagiannouli, Danai Pappa, Jin Young Park, Elise Philiips, Anneza Pitsialis, Kate Pyper, Irma Redikaite, Amy Robinson, Sofia Sánchez, Nashira Santanatalia, Caroline Sears, Tara Silverthorn, Patricia Slade-Baker, Justyna Sochaj, Charlotte Spencer, Lucy Starkey, Suzuko Tanoiri, Mai Sarah Tassinari, Victoria Thompson, Mafê Toledo, Nikki Tomlinson, Katja Vaghi, María Eugenia, Valdiivia Rossei, Milica Mil Vukovic, Amaya Wang, Cathy Washbrooke, Amy Watson, Esther Wingate, Catalina Zuliani.
Woburn Square performers
Lucy Arnold-Forster, Bluebelle Carroll, Jasmina Charap, Arthur Feltham, Vega Hertel, Roman Lewis, Violet Nye, Femi O’Mara, Kezia Pollendine, Beckett Shepherd.
Queen Square performers
Third year students of London Contemporary Dance School:
Mansoor ali, Emily Crouch, Natalia De Miguel Olaso, Esther Fuge, Rickard Fredborg, Hilary Grumman, Andrew Hawkins, Charlie Hendren, Ellen Johansson, Sara Kaustinen, Bridget Lappin, Claire Levernhe, Claire Lefevre, Amanda McNussen, Giulia Montalbano, Gabriela Montgomery Solano, Thomas Peacock, Kent Shinomae, Hannah Wintie, Jamal White, Olivia Wyszkowski.
Brunswick Square performers
Imre Bárd, Luke Birch, Franck Bordese, Tony Burch, Nigel Campbell, Joao Carreiro, Andrew Coombs, Richard Court, Nick Di Vita, Andy Eaton, Gilles Gaubert, Benoit Gouttenoire, James Grant, Love Heligren, Lewys Bannon Holt, Matthew Howell, Stan Lee, Kamil Lewanowicz, Fabio Machado, Freddy McChopin, Duncan MacFarland, Donovan Morris, Sam Morrison, David Moss, Daniel North, Roderick Packe, Luke Pell, Eusebius Phillips, Cecil Rowe, Umberto Stocchi, Pawel Szynkarczuk, Miquel Valls Colomer, Robert Vesty, Tim Woodall.
Bell Ringer: Ben Ash.
Conceived and Directed by Rosemary Lee
Choreography: Rosemary Lee in collaboration with Henrietta Hale, the rehearsal directors and the performers
Deputy Choreographer: Henrietta Hale
Music for Woburn Square composed and performed by Terry Mann and his Automata Musica No 1
Fiona Millward: Women’s ensemble
Thomas Goodwin: Men’s ensemble
Lauren Potter: Students’ ensemble
Ruth Pethybridge: Children’s ensemble
Costume supervision: Louise Beison
Assistant Costume Supervisor: Sophie Bellin
Company Stage Manager: Matthew Hales
Project Manager: Theresa Beattie
Deputy Stage Managers:
Nadia Javed – Gordon Square
Harriet Hay – Woburn Square
Anthony Watson – Brunswick Square
Amy Almond – Queen Square
Assistant Stage Managers – Daniele Singer, Ella Bolton – Gordon Square
Eleanor Butcher – Woburn Square
Alexandra Isaacs – Brunswick Square
Lucy Brown – Queen Square
Alison Alexander, Kate de Lord, Anna Smith
With thanks to:
Elise Long and Spoke the Hub Dancing Brooklyn, for inspiration and permission to work with meltdown concept; Andy the postman; Arts Admin; Sophie Artsall, Luke Birch, Birkbeck University of London Dept of Media & Cultural Studies – Dance Dept, Camden Borough Council, Michelle Cottrell, D and A Tackle, Sarah Edwards, Gordon Square Residents Association, Helen Holden, Jeanette Hoskins, Helka Kaski, Evangelia Kolyra, Austin de Lord, Graeme Miller, Sonia Noonan, Michele Panegrossi, Lia Prentaki, Royal Opera House, The School of Pharmacy University of London, SOAS University of London, David Steele, Iris Supple-Still, Felicity Syfret, Chris Thomson, UCL, Amy Watson, The Whitechapel Bell Foundry.
A massive thank you to the cast and the whole team who have so generously worked and helped to make this complex project a reality.