Wales Dance Platform
Wales Millennium Centre
The Wales Millennium Centre was the main setting for the launch of the Wales Dance Platform 2014. The Platform aimed to showcase those in the Welsh dance world, with a variety of ideas, approaches, techniques, medias and many more. Some featured work in solo, duets and ensembles and some featured were even in the media of film and photography.
In the decreasing light of the Bay, we began with an invitation to watch a children’s based slapstick comedy by Lisa Spaull. The Glanfa, which is the open area of the WMC, provides opportunities for many performances day in and day out and was a lovely area to invite many of the public to see this free exhibition. The slapstick dance not only showcased the dance techniques of this duet but also evoked giggles from the children in the audience, beginning a lovely start to the weekend.
The weekend in the WMC continued its showcase with two sessions of 10-15 minute performances in the Western Studio. They all ranged and were extremely different, although some professed the same skills from contemporary training. The studio was a multifunctioning space and so allowed the performers to utilise it to their needs. Each time this successfully gave the feeling of a new show. An example of this was a change of almost proscenium styled viewing from Cai Tomos, to a half circle opposite one another for Lucy May Constantini.
The different medias used such as film, voice and music whether this be recorded or live, drawing in Merega Palser’s piece with salt and the use of glitter and lard in Gareth Chamber’s unordinary performance also gave a variety to the evening. Gareth Chambers, especially, ended the night on an unusual high with his performance showing an extreme of vulnerability through balance on lard and baring his skin to us. This main shocking performance, I felt, gave the night as a whole a lot of food for thought. Each piece professed its own views on areas of life and ensured that we as the audience were well prepared for the weekend ahead with diving straight into the deep end of modern-day dance.
Finally, to note, as mentioned before, the use of different medias made this beginning something to remember. We forget that the beauty of dance isn’t just in the performance but that it can be documented in many other ways. James Williams, who also treated us to dance in Chapter on the Saturday gave a photography exhibition of dancers in Nest Project. The photographs were stunning, showing the anatomy and muscle definition of fully fledged dancers. The impressive highlight caused not only jealousy of the ordinary person but inspired and gave a sense of awe at how hard these professionals work, exhibited in their bodies. The most powerful photographs were with the intense stares of certain dancers in the moment. They professed concentration in their work but a sense of voyeurism, as if we had interrupted into the rehearsal and movement of these dancers.
Day 1 had easily prepared us for the weekend and excitement for what we had yet to see.
Wales Dance Platform
Chapter Arts Centre
After the exciting and varied pool that we were involved in on the first day, the excitement of day two of the Wales Dance Platform in Chapter Arts Centre was almost something to not contain. This unordinary centre, with its bohemian feel, seemed like a perfect place for work that was experimental and full of impressions to be made.
Such as the first night, this weekend was not going to be just about dance performances. Creative producer of the Wales Dance Platform, Roy Cambell-Moore exhibited his beautiful photographs of dancers in India which showcased on screens in the foyer. These were colourful and vibrant and such as the photographs from the previous night, exhibited the core of dance and dancers.
Following this different medium, a showcase of films which ranged from documentarian pieces from African dance which was full of energy and a different feel to the dance we are used to in our own country, to rehearsal pieces from Aleksandra Jones and her work with pregnant women which also gave a new view to dance with people we at times think are vulnerable with movement in their different state. Even this small series of film showed us that dance is so diverse and can be so beautiful and admirable in many different ways.
Chapter’s versatility as a venue was helpful to the weekend. This not only helped the rehearsal of performers but also with the change for the performances. We entered the loft space for a small and informal talk for performers about touring, self promotion, relationships with producers and much more which was extremely informative and helpful, especially as a freelance performance myself. The Stwdio then showcased a beautiful piece which illustrated the strong bodies of dancers and their ability of restraint with small movements over a long amount of time. This was inspiring and somehow captivating to watch despite the little amount of movement. It showed that even silence and stillness is just as powerful as consistent movement. The bar area was used for Jukebox collective’s work with hip hop and modern chart music. This, I felt added something special to the weekend. It was a definite change-up from the weekend and punctured some fun, light-hearted entertainment.
Again, we were welcomed to a thought-provoking and impressionable piece by Gareth Clark (Mr and Mrs Clark) with Smash It Up. This thought-provoking and culturally poignant piece showcased the brilliance that are the Clarks, and how they are little afraid to challenge the status quo. Comical moments were also implemented, as is their style with spoken word in contrast to the movement, pin pointing facts in quotation form that all performers and even other audience members can relate to.
A lovely addition to this weekend, however a small piece in comparison to the eclectic entertainment on offer was the taster to reflexology. As a dancer previously, the reflexologist had trained after retiring and so this seemed a lovely way for dancer’s to relax, especially with being notorious for problems with their feet. This nice addition added to the feeling of a luxurious weekend after the privilege of the entertainment on offer .
Wales Dance Platform
The finale of the Wales Dance Platform ended in the lovely setting of the Sherman. Well known for its inviting family atmosphere as well as it’s occasional adult openness, it seemed relevant that there was a high involvement of family dance.
Before this, we began the day in a series of discussions. The Artists and organisers critically evaluated the weekend from their perspectives, while myself and other critics and professionals discussed the Welsh critical state. This eye-opening and educational talk made an extreme impact on me, realising the difficulties that the arts world, while continuing striving in Wales, is struggling for journalism about such creative activities. It was lovely to meet such like-minded people and to hear their points of view and eagerness in the arts field.
Following from this, we entered into a promenade performance from the outside with a fun pirate and fun and excited girl who wanted to be a pirate, to the foyer where the rest of her toys lived. This dance was fun-filled and a lovely beginning to the day. We then continued into Theatre two with a lovely and audience relatable piece about a daughter and her father and the heart warming performance about their relationships. This provoked moments of memory with comedy, friendship and the father/daughter duo easily showed their close relationship through dance. The obvious nature of this also came from the evidence of dance education through the generations. This section of family fun showcased not only a difference in the dance world and its versatility to audiences, but attracted families to the venue, which seems an increasing importance to do in the creative world.
The second, and last series of showcases was more adult inclined but still was a possibility for families to attend as well, although not specifically catered for. Again, we saw a range of dance areas and the link with Chapter from the day before with the African dance. The energy was electric and consistent. I felt in complete awe about where they could possibly get the energy from. The change to live music and for it to not be of the conventional western style was a lovely change to many of the other pieces we saw. Perhaps more additions like this as well perhaps community based projects could have opened this weekend up and involved even more versatility. Despite the difference of work, many professed similar previous trainings and could at times feel very similar.
Overall the weekend was a fantastic success. A wonderful way to see the eclectic variety of dance in Wales as well as an interesting and informative weekend with networking and other additions. I feel very privileged that I was welcomed as part of this and thank all those involved. Dance in Wales is prominent and certainly needs more recognition through wonderful ventures such as Wales Dance Platform.