REVIEW: Northern Platforms @ Dance City

Posted on April 20th 2017 by Whats on Northeast

Words: Faye Atkinson for Cuckoo Review

Northern Platforms was a welcoming insight into the creative communities of the north of England, and showcased the imaginative and unique performance ability of this community. The show – which was presented at Dance City in Newcastle – was separated into four segments, each displaying the work of groups and individuals from a variety of regions in the north.

My personal favourite was a section which focused on mixing dance with poetry. A man named Akeim Toussaint Buck performed his piece, entitled “Windows of Displacement” effortlessly, and the concept of his performance was executed with passion and absolute enthusiasm. Akeim spoke of the difficulties he faced earlier in his life as a result of being an immigrant and the view society had on his identity because of this. He used athletic movements and effortless dance moves to show that the oppression of ethnic minorities within a contemporary society is still an active issue that restricts and limits individuals, in terms of personal growth and success. While dealing with moderately heavy issues in his performance, Akeim used his dry sense of humour and sharp wit to balance the performance between serious and moving; relatable and enjoyable.

The first piece showcased (choreographed by Peter Groom) was a unique mix of drama, dance and performance art, entitled “Go Away Johnny”. An absolutely crazy performance, it displayed acting abilities of the performers and showed them at different extremes. For example, the start of the piece showed the performers running around the stage moving in contorted, child-like ways which then developed into a slow, sophisticated section of movement. This showed the performers all lying down on the stage, using only their shoulders and feet to move across the stage which was decorated throughout with a cream fur carpet. This section reminded me of the way a pack of animals would move in a uniform way, as one singular entity; the performers all moved beautifully across the stage creating wave-like actions which resembled naturalistic gestures.

The last two performers focused on dance alone.  Alice Henry (from the North-East) performed a contemporary piece entitled “Muse”, which looked at the relationship between athletes and their mental and physical capacity. Alice moved powerfully around the stage in an energetic and athletic manner, showcasing her piece’s concept to its fullest potential. The movements she used saw her push the limits of her physical ability, relating it back to the relationship between an athlete and their natural limitations regarding movement and exercise. This performance showed the ways that contemporary dance can explore all aspects of sport and bring performance elements into dance. Martyn Garside choreographed a piece which he presented as an exploration of ‘amok’, a mid 17th century Portuguese term which means ‘rushing in a frenzy’. His movements matched the idea of amok as he moved about the stage in a disorganised, flustered manner, showing how contemporary dance can convey and portray a variety of emotions and mind-sets.

Overall, Northern Platforms was an enjoyable presentation of creative minds and the product of said creativity, which wasn’t surprising as Dance City consistently deliver thought-provoking performances through external companies. Though I was unsure what to expect, I thoroughly enjoyed this performance.

This review originally appeared on Cuckoo Review, a site dedicating to developing the skills of young writers in partnership with venues across the North East. For more reviews from young writers, visit the Cuckoo Review website.

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