Review: Life & Other Stories at Queens Hall

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Life and Other Stories saw 4 contemporary dance works by Eliot Smith Dance , Martin Hylton, Balbir Singh, and emerging choreographer Yamit Salazar at Queens Hall in Hexham.


Conceived and directed by Balbir Singh, we watched as two dancers Abirami Eswar (dressed in a lime green and sea blue dress) and Yamit Salazar (in tight black and grey vest top and shorts) represented the similarities and differences between cultures and dance styles. It also allowed us to appreciate the dancers physicality and movement thanks to the costume,

It was like Eswar had control of Salazar’s body, like she was taking command of him- it was really powerful to watch. A range of dynamics in this piece, one moment the movements were soft, gentle and flowing and then it switched to strong and harsh movement with Eswar punctuating the beat of the music by stomping her feet on stage. Clear there were two dance styles on the stage, I enjoyed it when they found likeness especially in the small gestural motifs perhaps suggesting the chasms between the two cultures.


Choreographed by Yamit Salazar, Bloom reminding of Ghost Dances by Christopher Bruce. It started as 4 dancers Yamit Salazar, Lian Draycott, Nathan Keenoo and Niki Tsonopoulou dressed in very simple, beige dress working and fighting to live. To me it looked like they were slaves or workers of some kind, the music and movement was very tribal like with the pounding drum beat. Then all of a sudden, the beige costume, laborious movement and drum beat dramatically changed. We saw colour, fun, festia and joy- I had been transported to Spain. I was watching 4 beautiful butterflies fly around the stage, there were splashes of colour created by bunches of flowers and clever lighting design. The piece was so joyus, I cold not stop smiling.


Choreographed by Martin Hylton, I saw 4 white boxes on the stage and then I realised the dancers were in those boxes. Stretching out the white material that was wrapped around the box, they looked like ghosts. The music was rocky and noisy, I felt very scared and afraid of what I was watching. Then it calmed down and the dancers birthed out of the boxes and it was like they were new to the planet and just finding their feet. This performance was stuff of nightmares and I did not understand what I was watching.


Choreographed by Eliot Smith, I saw a one lonesome tree in centre stage which reminded me of Sycmore Gap. It was a piece of political performance art, it raised awareness of the truths of climate change and the environment as Dancers pointed at us and made us question what we are doing to our planet, they held up newspapers with horrific news headlines which then turned into protest poster. A very emotive and dramatic piece, I felt like I was watching a film which was supposed by award-winning composer Adam Johnson. .

I am very excited to see what comes next from Eliot Smith Dance.

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