Monday, 29 September 2014

Phoenix @ Home: Tenacity, Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre, Leeds (For The Public Reviews)

This Review was originally written for The Public Reviews and the review can be accessed here.                            

Phoenix @ Home, Tenacity commemorates 50 years of the Civil Rights Act with a mixed multimedia programme with a selection of legendary pieces. The contemporary dance company is keen to pay tribute to the continuous developments to the Civil Rights Movements.  Sharon Watson, Phoenix Dance Theatre Artistic Director, shares the reasons why when she introduced the evening’s performance.

The programme opens with a short film, Mark Huskisson’s Honour.  The film represent silently the struggles and losses one faced during the First World War.  The beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace, sang by Tila and Tavelah Robinson, represents the spiritual strength of those suffering and how the 18th Century hymn has influenced changes worldwide including the anti-slavery movement. Alesandra Seutin’s 1976 explores and narrates the Soweto Uprisings with two dancers who represent the two school children.  Their innocence is suddenly changed to the pain and loss as shown by facial and body expressions.  The clever use of the lighting gives a sinister feel on stage with the silhouettes shadows on the still images.

Jane Dudley’s Harmonica Breakdown shares an insight of America’s Great Depression.  The film represents the continuous movement of those not giving up in the face of adversity.  Dudley refers to “the long road” and believes everyone has a remarkable story to tell.  Sheren Wray dances the movements which represent the continuous struggles of those working in the uncultivated land.  Longevity uses Martin Luther King’s 1963 speech, I Have A Dream.  Gary Lambert’s piece initially reflects the pessimism felt until the energy in the dancers becomes more positive and free on further narration of the speech.  The dance delves deeper with conviction from the Luther King’s speech with unity and freedom.

Warren Adam’s The Audacious One is set against Mozart’s Requiem.  The classical piece represents politically the struggles in which the dancers interpret in order for them to become unbiased.  The piece is inspired by The Audacity of Hope which led to Barack Obama’s climb to becoming president.  This beautiful and moving performance explores some of the Civil Rights struggles in history with optimism shining throughout the performance pieces.  Phoenix Dance Theatre takes pride in humbly addressing these messages no matter how poignant and thought provoking they are and they are relevant now as well as in the past.  Phoenix @ Home Tenacity features an excellent cast of artists whose diverse artistry is helping to make these differences.

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