Words: Gareth Ludkin
The autumn season for the National Dance Company Wales brings together two world-class choreographers and two specially commissioned pieces for the NDCW which are sure to impress and challenge new audiences.
Israeli choreographer Itzik Galili has produced an engaging and often playful piece which considers how space and light can constrain and structure movement. Stephen Petronio has taken inspiration from Dylan Thomas and the Welsh landscape to create an incredibly rich and evocative dance which sees colourful dancers express themselves to the words of Dylan Thomas and an incredible score by composer Son Lux. Both works are well worth seeing.
I was lucky enough to have the chance of watching a sneak preview of these two fantastic pieces before the company begins its tour in Newport on Tuesday 28.
I must confess that I am a newcomer to contemporary dance, a medium I have previously considered to be aloof, unfriendly and almost meaningless. However, having now had the pleasure of watching Stephen Petronio’s work twice, I have grown to appreciate this art form much more.
As Petronio urged me in a short interview I had with him, you don’t have to ‘get’ contemporary dance, it is much more important to attempt to find an appreciation of the movement, strength and in-definability of the dancers, their actions and the emotions they evoke.
Of course this in itself is a fairly snobbish idea as for many, meaning and purpose is incredibly important for their understanding and appreciate of a piece of art – myself included. In a lot of contemporary dance, “I didn’t get it,” is a common response from audience members, but with a slither of background information, the National Dance Company Wales’ autumn tour could well open your eyes to a completely new and challenging art-form.
Romance Inverse by Itzik Galili uses large boards that move and shape the stage area as dancers (of one gender) move in, out and round to find their own space to dance and move freely. This is an interesting piece, which sees the dancers demonstrate their fantastic strength and endurance. The dance becomes more fluid and free as the boards are taken away in favour of light, which again defines the space. There is something alluring and playful about the dance which at times even left me chuckling.
One thing that will never cease to amaze me is the strength and power of these dancers who dance with intensity for 40 minutes for each piece. Their strength and talent is demonstrated no more evidently than in Stephen Petronio’s choreographed work, By Shining Light. Based on Dylan Thomas’s poem, In My Craft or Sullen Art, the dance sees close and physical interaction between the dancers as they move and support each other in such a way that suits the sombre tone of Son Lux’s score and Dylan Thomas’s poem.
The dancers’ engagement and movement with each other has a resonance with the poem and it was certainly my favourite piece of the two. All the elements of the dance including the costumes, score, choreography and light, create an engaging dance.
You will be able to catch these two fantastic works from September 28. From Newport the tour moves to Hereford, Newtown, Huddersfield, Llandudno, Brecon and then Cardiff in March. To find out more about the tour visit www.ndcwales.co.uk.