17 Sep 2019
A diverse and exciting Autumn season kicks off our anniversary year, tackling the pressing issues of our time - race, gender, sexuality, mental health, technology, class and politics – all through the medium of dance.
“The Place was established in 1969 as the home for contemporary dance ideas and this mission of supporting imagination is still the energy at the heart of what we do. At the start of our 50th year, this autumn programme of performances, and the artists we are commissioning over the coming months, crosses the width of artists who are shaping and people who are watching contemporary dance.” – Eddie Nixon, Artistic Director
Highlights of the season include:
As usual, Autumn at The Place starts with Touch Wood, a series of studio performances of works created by Choreodrome artists during their residencies over the summer (3-6 SEP).
This season will see many solo artists using dance to tell very personal stories. First to take to the stage is Azara Meghie, who wowed audiences at Resolution earlier this year with her danced monologue Just Another Night, that grapples with questions of race, gender and sexuality through a seamless blend of hip hop and spoken word, recounting the true story of a house party that turned sour (10 SEP).
Combining bold storytelling with highly physical choreography, RockBottom is Stuart Waters’ moving and incredibly honest self-portrait of his personal struggle with depression and addiction, shining a light on the roles of resilience and support in recovery (12 SEP).
Dan Watson’s VENUS is a joyfully chaotic solo about nostalgia and intimacy. As a child Dan lost a holiday camp dancing competition. This is his chance to right that wrong. VENUS will be an opportunity for us all to win, if only for the duration of one song by an 80’s girl group (21 SEP).
Addressing the lack of visibility for queer women in dance, Amy Bell’s warm, witty, and welcoming solo work The Forecast was prompted by wondering where all the queer women in dance are. Blending dance, text, animation and a live digital soundscape, Amy Bell eschews the outgrown leotard of her youth and challenges conventional ideas of gender and movement (26 SEP).
Born to Manifest by Joseph Toonga is a new Hip-Hop double bill that illuminates the experiences of young black British men. Toonga is passionate about raising awareness and shifting stigmas around mental health and black men’s experiences of it (16 NOV).
In NUTCRUSHER, Sung Im Her looks at sexual objectification and power. The work is informed by personal experiences of being looked at in unnerving and disempowering ways and explores the #metoo and #timesup movements that began in the west and were severely repressed in Korea before exploding to huge effect (30 OCT).
Intimate stories continue in the work of award-winning choreographer Riccardo Buscarini. In L’età dell’horror two men hold on to each other’s hands choosing negotiation over escaping in a declaration of dependence while the severe counterpoints from J.S. Bach’s The Art of Fugue tick like an unavoidable countdown (19 SEP).
Birmingham based company ACE Dance and Music present SKIN Reimagined, a powerful double bill directed by Gail and Ian Parmel, that reignites ACE’s collaboration with international choreographers Vincent Mantsoe of South Africa and Akiko Kitamura from Japan. Rich in contrast and leaping gracefully between ancient spirituality and science, SKIN Reimagined explores what it means to be human (12 NOV).
Work Place artists Igor + Moreno return to The Place with two different performances: A revisiting of A Room For All Our Tomorrows, about the secret lives we all possess when we are close to others (9 NOV), and their new work BEAT, which started from questioning what it means to be part of a generation that was brought up with the promise of endless possibilities. BEAT is a celebration of the fatigue, pain and uncertainty of deciding day by day who we are and will feature one DJ and one dancer reinventing themselves over and over (1&2 NOV).
Work Place artists Frauke Requardt & Daniel Oliver present their new work Dadderrs, a messy, chaotic celebration of parenthood and performance making, inviting audiences into their fantastical escapist world to discover awkwardly intimate and strange actions, rituals, dances, songs, and other dysfunctional activities (5&6 NOV).
The Enormous Room, the latest epic production from Stopgap Dance Company, follows a father and daughter gradually coming to terms with the loss of Jackie – their wife and mother. Combining exquisite detail in movement with evocative text and design, The Enormous Room takes the audience somewhere in between this world and the next. Thoughtful, moving and uplifting, this is a show about saying goodbye and moving on (24 OCT).
From the intimate to the blockbusters, one of the highlights of the season will undoubtedly be Richard Alston Dance Company’s final ever At Home Season, Alston’s fond farewell to his artistic home of fifty years. The programme combines dances made as early as 1970 with brand-new work for students of London Contemporary Dance School. Also included is Martin Lawrance’s recent exhilarating Detour and an Alston classic, Red Run (1998), the intricate Isthmus (2012) plus the rare chance to see Merce Cunningham Solos performed by Elly Braund and the truly remarkable Siobhan Davies (27-30 NOV). A special date for the calendars will be 28 NOV, when Sir Richard Alston and Siobhan Davies, both veterans of The Place since its inception, will host a truly unmissable Post-Show Talk.
Scottish Dance Theatre, Scotland’s national contemporary dance company, comes to The Place with a gripping double bill of cutting-edge choreography, club culture and music. The company’s exceptional dancers transform into sleek, androgynous beings guided by a futuristic techno soundtrack in Process Day by award-winning duo Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar. This pulsating, sensory experience is followed by Emanuel Gat’s The Circle, an explosive combination of dance and wearable art driven by a hypnotic score by electronic guru Squarepusher (22 OCT).
Club culture also takes centre stage in WASTELAND, Gary Clarke’s gritty new dance theatre about the birth of illegal rave culture in post-industrial Britain, a time when despair turned into euphoria as the derelict warehouses and abandoned work spaces are transformed and for an instant, it seemed music and dance might save the day. Bringing together Clarke’s exceptional dancers, community singers, brass musicians, archive footage, powerful rave soundscore and artwork by Jimmy Cauty of The KLF, WASTELAND dives head first into a gritty story of loss, hope, escapism and survival (2-5, 8-10 OCT).
Tom Dale, who convinced critics last year with I INFINITE, an “extraordinarily smooth blend of dance, music and digital design” (★★★★★ - Culture Whisper) returns to The Place with Step Sonic, a new, live sampled form of dance and music. In Step Sonic: Part 1, three dancers unite in an amplified environment of shotgun microphones, custom made instruments, plate reverbs and amplified boxes. Sampled and processed live by composer Jo Wills, the dancers create a new type of dance music/music dance with their breath, voice, the noise of bodies impacting and the sound of feet & limbs on the floor. Step Sonic: Part 2 will focus on the body and movement in visceral, explosive and captivating solo performances by Tom Dale, Eleesha Drennan and Jamaal Burkmar (14 NOV).
Award-winning dancer/choreographer Jonathan Goddard presents While You Are Here, a compelling new play for dance written by Eve Leigh, making us question the connections, legacies and inheritance passing through the centuries. In an exciting collaboration with director Lily McLeish, four world-class dancer-actors inhabit a striking world created by designer Akhila Krishnan with a score by Max Pappenheim. Combining dance, choreography, text and animation in an unpredictable collage to show time as an ever-evolving puzzle, While You Are Here simultaneously looks at the past, present and future, as generations of humans pass by trying to make sense of life, of death, of time (15&16 OCT).
Following a sell-out performance of SEXBOX in 2018, Impermanence return with BAAL, a ground-breaking adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s first play about consumption, greed and destruction. Brecht created his monstrous anti-hero in response to the carnage of the First World War. BAAL symbolises the pitiless denial of personal responsibility and is still depressingly relevant as a representative of the self-serving elites who are ravaging our planet. Drawing the audience deep into a kaleidoscopic world of surreal images, extreme physicality and high drama, BAAL is performed alongside a film combining new footage with archive materials, and an original soundtrack composed and performed live by electro-acoustic musician Robert Bentall (24 SEP).
From Brechtian social criticism to French surrealism, families this Christmas get whisked away on a magical journey as Luca Silvestrini, Artistic Director of Protein Dance, turns Antoine de Saint-Exupéry enigmatic tale The Little Prince into a theatrical experience “delivered with quirky charm” (★★★★ - The Observer 2018), that both young and older audiences can share and enjoy. With an original score by Frank Moon, design by Yann Seabra, lighting by Jackie Shemesh and video design by Daniel Denton, the classic parable about the value of friendship and love will be given a fresh and witty new adaptation using Silvestrini’s distinctive blend of dance, humour, words and music that will entertain and connect the entire family. A special evening performances at 7pm on 20 Dec will be available for press attendance (17-24 DEC).
Young audiences will also be entertained by Hocus Pocus, part of Dance Umbrella 2019, London’s international dance festival. This bewitching gem of a family show by Lausanne-based choreographer Philippe Saire voyages into the unknown in a dreamlike spectacle where gravity dissolves and optical illusions conjure other worlds. Leaving room for the imaginations of children aged seven+ to soar, this international hit features two awesomely dextrous performers, vivid costumes and eerie props blending dance, theatre, mime and stage trickery set to music from Grieg’s Peer Gynt (19 OCT).
And for the youngest audience members, Second Hand Dance offer a gentle performance for 0-3 year olds to discover the power of dance. Touch is an improvised and interactive dance show performed by four dancers and a DJ. Adults and children are offered the chance to watch, play and dance as the performers move delightfully and deftly to a live mixed music score. This beautifully crafted, gentle and playful experience reaffirms the potency of touch and dance in the digital age (26 & 27 OCT).
Lucy Guerin’s fascinating Split lands in London as part of Dance Umbrella, having knocked the socks off audiences in Australia and around the world. Dancing in flawless unison, two fearless female performers, one nude one clothed, navigate the terrain of a stark set to a shamanistic, looping, drum score by composer Scanner (12 &13 OCT).
The autumn season is completed by Fresh, an evening of bitesize extracts from the freshest dance companies (23 NOV) and London Contemporary Dance School’s artistically rich Collaborations (5 & 6, 10-12 DEC); a programme of student work devised together with design and film students from long-standing partners University of the Arts London and composers from Guildhall School of Music & Drama. The shared sense of invention in these inspiring opportunities supports the next generation of artist-collaborators.