Wonderful Weekend of Dance

Wonderful Weekend of Dance

It started on Thursday when we did a workshop with Eleanor Duval from Mark Bruce Company. After a taster of their regular class, we learned a snippet of the choreography from Frankenstein which they were performing at DanceEast on Friday and Saturday.
But I decided that first I should go to Norwich as I couldn’t miss the opportunity to see the São Paulo Dance Company which was making its first appearance here in the East, on their first UK tour since their foundation in 2008. The company of 22 classically trained dancers working with Spanish and Brazilian choreographers, encompass Latin, Afro-Brazilian, Spanish and other ethnic dance styles. 
The triple bill began with ANTHEM, choreographed by Goyo Montero (resident choreographer with Carlos Acosta’s company Acosta Danza) – an epic and emotionally charged performance which began with a dramatic flash of bodies whose only movement was their quivering hands. The dancers were beautiful, exhibiting total control in their elegant sculptured movements and strong and powerful with dramatic tribalistic intensity as they came together as one. 
Next was GNAWA, choreographed by Nacho Duato, with flavours of his Mediterranean homeland Valencia, danced to hypnotic ritualistic North African music, invoking mystical Islamic Sufism and the Gnawa tribe who were enslaved by the Berber. Amidst the vibrant lyrical dancing were moments of ‘ceremonial’ calm as when the dancers picked up lights and placed them in the darkened space. 
Finally, we had AGORA, choreographed by the Brazilian Cassi Abranches, a colourful flirtatious Afro-Brazilian blend of energy and power, beautiful dancing creating an exciting party atmosphere. An absolute treat in every way.
On Saturday afternoon I was back at DanceEast to Watch Dance Class with Mark Bruce Company. Like Sao Paulo Dance, Mark Bruce Company are classically trained, beautiful strong dancers. Fascinating to watch – from the waist down they move in perfect classical style but the arms and torsos seem to belong to a different world of dance, soft and flowing but strong and vigorous, moving in all directions while their feet stay perfectly placed. 
Then in the evening the main event, which started with LIBERATION DAY. This was a revelation, danced to music and songs written by Mark Bruce and sung by Bruce himself and Eva Trodd. Six inspired dancers filled the stage with passion, vivacity and fun in a wonderful mix of classical, tango, flamenco and blues. 
FRANKENSTEIN is based on Mary Shelley’s novel but includes elements of Greek mythology with Prometheus, god of fire and creator of mortals (Eleanor Duval) shadowing the Monster (Jonathan Goddard). In an atmosphere of flashing light, noise, violence and fear the Monster comes to life. It is terrifying and sad. He is feared and marginalised, unwanted, unloved. Frankenstein himself regrets his creation. Everything about the work is brilliantly portrayed, the dancing full of emotion and drama drawing the audience into their tragic tale. There are moments of beauty seeing the Monster finding love but all to no avail and it ends in tragedy. I left feeling shattered but privileged to have had the opportunity to see such a fine work of art. 
How lucky we are to have these incredible artists performing in the East. We must continue to support them. 
Speaking to Mark during the interval we learned that the future of the company is perilous, funding having disappeared, and doubts about whether they will be back to DanceEast. This troubled me sorely, particularly having read how the São Paulo Dance Company had been set up and funded by the Brazilian Government (central and regional). 
Pam Candler