Thursday, 27 September 2012

Some Like it Hip Hop

Some Like it Hip Hop, ZooNation Dance Company, Peacock Theatre - reviewed on 25th September

Choreographer Kate Prince makes hip hop and street dance thoroughly accessible and engaging in ZooNation's Some Like it Hip Hop. After a popular run in 2011, the show described in The Guardian as “a belter” and The Evening Standard as “choreographically brilliant” returned even bigger and brighter to the Peacock Theatre stage this September.

Based on the classic film, Some Like it Hot (but with the sexes reversed), the piece tells the story of an all-powerful Governor ruling a land where books are banned and women are subservient to men. Unimpressed, Jo-Jo (Lizzie Gough) and Kerri (Teneisha Bonner) don suits and comedy moustaches in a contemporary and cross-dressing version of girl power. 

Tommy Franzen
Photo: ZooNation Dance Company
Against this background of gender politics, love and humour come to the forefront with hilarious male-imitation walks, silly character conflicts and even a laundry room date. Choreography fits the story cleverly and works seamlessly with the original musical score by DJ Walde and Josh Cohen. Most impressive is the sleep pods scene where six dancer silhouettes are seen moving in visually-impressive patterns.

Throughout, the cast display their incredible talent and level of energy across a range of dance styles including krumping, locking, funk, popping and house. But Gough and Marilyn Monroe-equivalent Tommy Franzén are undoubtedly the stars. Both finalists from the BBC’s So You Think You Can Dance, their movements are impeccably precise, well-timed and performed with supreme confidence and prowess.

The show has undoubtedly modern moves and music but the variety of people choosing to come and watch is diverse. In the final numbers, the whole crowd, from young children to retired ladies were on their feet amidst the buzz and energy of the cast.

Some people may like it hip hop before the show, but I have no doubt that all audience members will be hip hop converts after seeing such a superbly entertaining performance.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Tamara Rojo Press Launch

English National Ballet 2012/13 season launch, Corinthia Hotel - 24th September

This morning, Tamara Rojo announced her vision for English National Ballet and plans for the upcoming season. Aged 22, she joined the company as a dancer and now 15 years on is taking the role of artistic director. Her focus will be in balancing the need for classic ballets with the creation of new works.

Rojo in Machina with the Royal Ballet
Photo: Johan Persson
Rojo wants to "inspire, entertain, stimulate and challenge" old and new audiences alike, making ballet relevant and accessible to all. In the next few months, the company will perform Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker, with Rojo dancing as Aurora in the season's opening performance. In 2013, they will take on two mixed bills at the London Coliseum, including a diverse range of works from Petrushka to Petite Mort, as well as performing Swan Lake again at the Royal Albert Hall.

Rojo is highly ambitious and wants to make English National Ballet one of the "most creative and most loved" companies in the world. She is keen to develop young choreographers and has appointed George Williamson as associate artist. He will create My First Cinderella for students of English National Ballet School in the new year. Rojo also intends for the company to collaborate extensively with other artforms.

Rojo's only worry is the effect of decreasing arts funding in the UK. But if she is able to fundraise successfully and implement her vision, English National Ballet clearly has a bright future ahead.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Marianela Nuñez

Marianela Nuñez, Ballet Association meeting, Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church - 5th September

Royal Ballet principal, Marianela Nuñez, spoke to the Ballet Association on Wednesday. Determined to be a ballerina from the age of 5, she spent her early years in Buenos Aires taking as many ballet lessons as possible alongside academic school. It was a busy and tiring schedule but she has no regrets: “I had the best childhood – doing what I loved every day”. At the age of 15, Nuñez moved to London to join the Royal Ballet School, and a year later was offered a place in the company. 

Nunez signing autographs
Photo: Laura Dodge
As delightful a person as she is onstage, Nuñez describes her career with the Royal Ballet as making her “so happy and so fulfilled”. She loves Balanchine works and was thrilled to be recently coached by Merill Ashley in Ballo della Regina. The work has so much speed and detail that it’s “like a full-length ballet in 20 minutes”. Balanchine technique has to be impeccable, but his ballets are “heaven if you want to feel like a ballerina… I could do the Diamonds pas de deux for breakfast.”

Nuñez also adores MacMillan choreography. She felt like “the luckiest girl in the world” to perform one of her dream roles, the Woman in Song of the Earth. MacMillan’s dramatic roles are similarly favourites; as Juliet, she forgets about everything for three hours and always cries afterwards. “It’s amazing what you can feel doing a MacMillan role. You can use your own life experiences – his works are so real, so human.”

Nuñez has enjoyed working with contemporary choreographers, including Wayne McGregor and Liam Scarlett. Every role she dances gives her new challenges and the chance to develop as a dancer. She is also currently working on documentary, All I am, which uses ballet to explore the relationship between her and husband Thiago Soares. Most memorably, filming included performing a pas de deux in her wedding dress on the freezing cold streets of Argentina.

What does Nuñez hope for in the future? Her ambition is simple: “I want to keep growing as an artist”.