Friday, 14 June 2019

AMATEUR DANCE REVIEW: All Aboard - The Sackville Theatre, The Manchester College, Manchester.

18 dance students of The Manchester College took to the stage this evening to perform a pot-pourri of dances inspired by other countries' traditions and folk dances, and to find a thread to all of this, the premise was that we were taking a world cruise, and stopping off at these various locations to experience these cultural dance highlights.

To aid this idea, flag bunting had been hung above the stage in the shape of a ship's prow, and a screen to the rear of the stage showed video footage of cruise liners, passengers, and also where appropriate, montages of the country the cruise liner vsiited on its journey this evening. Each county's flag was also displayed.

Still young and still learning their craft these 18 late teenagers showed a great degree of skill and understanding of the differing requirements of each style of dance peformed. We sailed to France, Spain, The USA, Mexico, Brazil, The Far East, India, South Africa, Russia, and Ireland on our 75-minute whistle-stop tour. Within each of these sections, there was a lovely variety between solo, pair, group and ensemble work, and all told there were some extremely clever and ambitious lifts and leaps which were all executed absolutely superbly. What spoiled the evening for me were the two numbers which actually should have been the best and most spectacular. The opening sequence and finale of any presentation should be the finest and most amazing in order to, in the first place captivate and excite, and in the second, allow the audience to leave with high spirits and a good memory of the show. Sadly the opening sequence in this showcase was perhaps the weakest of all the dances, rather haphazard and lacklustre, showing passengers and staff readying and boarding the vessel; whilst the finale came as an anticlimax. We were shown video footage of UK, ostensibly the next port of call, and the cast enter in the 'Swinging 60s' mode to a Beatles song, which dissipates and mutates to Spice Girls, Queen, etc, but all a little under-rehearsed and not cohesive, and before I knew it they were uncoordinatedly bowing.

What happened in between though was highly praiseworthy and very interesting.  In some instances a short solo dance was shown whilst the other cast members were getting changed. My three favourites from these (although all were good) were Amy Edwards' Latin American moves which she had perfected to a 'Tee',  Demail Manning's slightly effete but lovely comedic Mexican dance, and Lucy Dolmor's flamenco-inspired Spanish dance.  Favourite ensemble pieces were most definitely The Can-Can, America's Harlem Witch Trials Dance, and the Riverdance-inspired Irish dance.

I am unable to mention the choreographers by name, but am assuming that they were dance tutors at the college. All choreographies were ability appropriate and showcased the dancers to their best advantage. There was also nice use of space and some dances had had especial thought given to 'pictures' making the dance shapes created aesthetically pleasing too. It was absolutely clear to see that a great deal of effort and training had gone into making this show, and preparing the dancers in every genre; an essential part of their training if they are wanting to make dancing their profession, as I assume most if not all are. The standard was high throughout and many individual dances / dancers impressed me. However, [on the one hand I feel slightly mean by singling one dancer out from the rest, but on the other hand I also feel she is worthy of my so doing], one dancer impressed me contiunously throughout the whole evening, and stood out, even when on the back row of an ensemble piece. This was Lucy Dolmor, whose precision, poise, attitude, and energy were unmatchable in everything she did.

Congratualtions to all 18 of you. The evening was very enjoyable, and I am sure it will have been a superb learning curve for you all. I have been told that for some of you it was your first time performing on stage, and as such I take my hat off to you. Highly commendable indeed, and I look forward eagerly to see whatever your next public production will be.

Reviewer - Matthew Dougall
on - 13/6/19

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