Dancing to a changing beat

Refugees of the Septic Heart

Tom Dale Company

DanceXchange, Birmingham Hippodrome

****

TOM Dale has a background in electronic music which fueled his early choreographic work; he formed the company, of which he is artistic director, in 2001 to create innovative and creative dance and movement-based pieces.

This performance was the World premiere of a work that was commissioned by DanceXchange, although planning originally began some three years ago.

Music is an atmospheric new concept album by Shackleton and Vengence Tenfold and Refugees of the Septic Heart is a contemporary dance piece that reflects a nation perched on the brink of change.

The expressive performances of Ariadna Girones Meta and the mischievous Hugh Stainer stood out, but the movements of all the dancers in this small troupe of six (the other are Michael Kelland, Maria Olga Palliani, John Ross, Joshua Smith) are at once limpidly fluid and relaxed yet explosive and physically powerful. 

The dancers and production team collaborated with Tom Dale during pre-production to develop the characterisations for the work which deals with themes related to the lives we lead today.   

The mesmerizing rhythm is reminiscent of heartbeat; the words of the work help to set the scene and remind us of major global events like the assassination of John F Kennedy, the tragedy of 9/11 and the demanding ‘always on' digital lifestyles we lead.

Tom Dale, the choreographer whose background is in electronic music

Kate Unwin created the set from blocks of different sizes and shapes. It provides a blank canvas for a constantly moving and ever-changing light show designed by digital media artist, Barret Hodgson.

The atmospheric opening scene of the production gave the impression of possibility - being within the hugeness of the cosmos or the microcosm of molecular structure or something else completely? 

At times, the dancers – with their neutral costumes - almost disappear into the set, so the effect is rather like camouflage! Projected to create the backdrop for the entire performance, the combined impact of these visual graphics, the dancers movement and the music is stunning.

The evening began with an enthusiastic performance by students from Birmingham Ormiston Academy (BOA)  - the regional academy for creative, digital and performing arts – which was very well received by the audience.  These students have been working with the company this week so their dance set the scene well for what was to come.

Refugees of the Septic Heart is supported by Curve, Leicester, Lakeside Arts Centre, Deda, Laban Theatre and public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and begins a National Tour after leaving Birmingham.   To 08-03-13;

Laura Ginesi 

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