Body of Experience, The Place
• Performer/company: Body
• Venue: The Place
londondance.com - Jessye Parke, 29th November 06
Performance: 27/28 Nov & touring
Body of Experience is a show not to be missed. Featuring professional
performers over the age of 45 it celebrates the mature performer by showcasing
an eclectic mix of dance styles and personalities. This group represents
many more who could still be making a significant contribution to dance
as performers – were it not for our current obsession with youth
Debbie Lee-Anthony has brought together six artists who perform solos
choreographed by themselves in their own unique styles. The result is
an evening of dance which spans genres from belly dancing, through traditional
Caribbean dance to neo-classical ballet.
Including such a diverse range of styles and performers could potentially
result in an incoherent programme. However, the show was very well structured
and produced – although a little long. The range of genres provided
the audience with a brief insight into not only the talents of the individual
artists, but also the dance style they performed.
The design and lighting for this programme is excellent throughout , and
for many of the pieces it has been devised by the performers/choreographers
themselves. They seem to have an appreciation of how best to use these
elements to complement their work – perhaps a collective benefit
of years of professional experience.
A special mention for two of the performers. Company founder Debbie Lee-Anthony
performs two pieces and in both showcases significant skill in her release-based
contemporary dance style. She also exhibits a wonderful stage presence
and dramatic ability through her choreography. In her own work Holding
The Moment , Lee-Anthony holds the attention of an enraptured audience
as she makes a “personal exploration of loss, change and new beginnings”.
The stand out performer of the evening is Raymond Chai. Formerly of National
Ballet of Portugal, Chai demonstrates all the qualities of a dynamic showman
in the prime of his career. In two technically challenging solos, he displays
his clean ballet technique. With charisma and style he dances his way
through his virtuosic pieces without breaking a sweat.
After each piece, Chai does not just bow and run off the stage. In keeping
with his truly flamboyant style he gives an elaborate but modest bow then
runs away and leaps into the wings.
Works by Chitra Sundaram, Nancy King, Jackie Guy and Jacqui Chan also
feature in this programme which has been touring the UK since August this
year. Although there are some variations in technical ability, these performers
exhibit strength, athleticism and charisma, qualities which are often
cited as lacking in the mature performer.
Many of them would not look out of place in mainstream dance companies.
The quality of performance, use of facial expression and technical prowess
of these dancers has the ability to rival that of those many years their
junior. The dance industry ignores at its peril these wonderful performers!