An Extraordinary Walk in the Park

An Extraordinary Walk in the Park

This performance lived up to its name – it was a walk in Christchurch Park in Ipswich, and it was extraordinary. 

It was the end of year performance by the students on DanceEast’s Centre for Advanced Training, part of a national programme of 10 centres nurturing the talents of young people aged 11 to 18 with exceptional dance potential. Many will become tomorrow’s professional dancers and on the basis of recent experience they will need to be adept at dancing among trees, down hills and in the pouring rain – all of which were included in this walk.

The five pieces were choreographed for sites around the park by different choreographers under the artistic leadership of Jeanefer Jean-Charles whose work includes large scale spectacles for World Cups and Olympic ceremonies.

The walk began outside the Mansion where three dancers reflected the formality and intricacies of the architecture. We moved on to a delightful dance leaning on, running between and hiding behind trees followed by a playful exploration of relationships using benches. Things got more serious as the rain began at the outdoor gym, but even here there were hints of humour in the use of the poles and other gym equipment. The bandstand provided a great structure for circling, jumping and shifting dynamics. The finale brought all the dancers together to descend over the hill in an invasion of colour and energy, of powerful unison and riveting stillness.  It was a moving conclusion to an extraordinary walk.

The energy the young dancers brought to their performance was exciting. The artistry and focus all their choreographers and teachers brought to the works inspired. It made me smile, see parts of the park as art as well as nature, and it brought an occasional lump to my throat.

By Jeanette Siddall