DanceEast invites families to enjoy its spring season

Varmints by Cookson & Branson, part of the DanceEast spring season

Varmints by Cookson & Branson, part of the DanceEast spring season - Credit: Archant

Spring is a season of growth and new beginnings. DanceEast’s artistic director, Brendan Keaney, is hoping he can cultivate buds of interest which will flower into an exciting new audience. He has sown the seeds for a spring season which should entice and enchant both newcomers and experienced dance-lovers.

Students from the Centre for Advanced Training performing their End of Year show at danceEast

Students from the Centre for Advanced Training performing their End of Year show at danceEast - Credit: Archant

He said that DanceEast’s programme has a strong family element which brings together a diverse collection of dance styles without sacrificing quality.

“Family audiences are important because they represent the future but a family-friendly performance doesn’t mean that it is simple or just for children. The true essence of a family show means that it speaks to everyone from eight to 80. Different generations bring their life experience to the same performance and they all take something different away.

“Also, family shows are wonderfully inventive and provide a terrific way for people to experience dance for the first time.”

Five Lullabies, BALLET CENTRAL;Luna Othnin-Girard and Jonathan Day

Five Lullabies, BALLET CENTRAL;Luna Othnin-Girard and Jonathan Day - Credit: Bill Cooper

The Spring Programme

DanceEast’s spring programme is a blend of exciting young talent along with experienced choreographers unveiling new work.

Brendan said: “It’s good to have a balance between youth and experience and I am especially pleased that DanceEast’s performance groups and our students on the advanced training course get to present their showcase performances alongside professional shows in our spring season.”

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The season is designed to welcome a first-time dance audience and to also satisfy regulars at DanceEast events.

Hercules by New Art Club, part of the DanceEast spring season 2015

Hercules by New Art Club, part of the DanceEast spring season 2015 - Credit: Archant

The season kicks off on February 6 with 2Faced Dance presenting Dreaming In Code which combines athletic contemporary dance with heart-in-the-mouth breakdance moves. “It is an explosive and kinetically charged dance-theatre which explores what the future of dance could look like.”

Atomos at Snape

Brendan also mentioned Wayne McGregor and Random Dance, who will present their critically acclaimed Atomos at Snape this spring.

Student from DanceEast performance group present their speing showcase

Student from DanceEast performance group present their speing showcase - Credit: Archant

Wayne McGregor, a resident choreographer with The Royal Ballet and a Sadler’s Wells associate artist, has a long history with East Anglia and was championed fresh from college by DanceEast when it was still Suffolk Dance. He has never forgotten that support and regularly returns to stage performances in the county and provide workshops for students.

“It’s great to have Wayne back in Suffolk, performing one of his latest works which audiences would normally only expect to see in London. Random are a fantastic company made up of world-class dancers. “Atomos integrates art and science and combines bodies, movement, film, sound and light. Wayne is creating an onstage world where the body and mind are working together to create something unique.

“Wayne is very much a contemporary dancer and this is further proof that the boundaries between classical ballet and contemporary dance are becoming increasingly blurred everyday.”

Atomos will be at Snape Maltings Concert Hall on February 20-21.

James Wilton, part of the DanceEast spring season 2015

James Wilton, part of the DanceEast spring season 2015 - Credit: Archant

Murmur & Inked

Murmur & Inked, to be staged at the Jerwood DanceHouse on March 6, is a new double bill from Aakash Odedra Company. Artistic director Odedra is one of today’s most sought-after British choreographer-dancers. Originally trained in the South Asian styles of dance, Odedra has developed a distinctive movement style following intensive training with some of the world’s most prestigious choreographers.

“Mumur and Inked is a show very close to my heart,” Brendan confesses. “It is about dyslexia, which I suffer from a little bit. Aakash Odedra is a very gifted person and yet because of his dyslexia found conventional education at school very challenging.

“This is something I worry about increasingly as education becomes ever more focused on exam results. Richard Branson has always said that he never achieved at school, and look what a contribution he has made to British life. There are lots of people out there with gifts to give which are being marginalised.

“I think it’s nice to have a piece which says something about a topic we should be thinking about. I worry that schools are becoming about training rather than education. Dance has given him his vocabulary and has allowed him to have a voice.”

The other half of the double-bill Inked was inspired by Odedra’s grandmother who communicates through her extensive tattoos.

“This should be an exciting double-bill and emphasises that young performers today have many more tools at their disposal. With the rise of digital and computer technology who knows where it will end up?”

The Village

Community remains at the heart of DanceEast’s programme. Following the success of Finding Home in 2014, DanceEast are staging a collaborative new work, The Village, in partnership with newly formed company Unit, made up of DanceEast Associate Artists Tom Hobden and Kate Flurrie.

This large-scale community dance performance project will be staged at the Jerwood DanceHouse, Ipswich, on March 14 and at the Apex, Bury St Edmunds, on March 25.

The Village is inspired by the hundreds of little villages across England. The audience will zoom in and out of local characters’ lives to reveal a web of community spirit.

The cast includes up to 200 performers from local schools in the Babergh, Mid Suffolk and Forest Heath districts as well as DanceEast Performance Groups, Suffolk Junior Dance Company and Spin Off. The cast will include participants who have never danced before alongside aspiring new talents of the future.

Brendan said: “You can expect striking cinematics, emotional narratives and a performance that will bring the extraordinary out of a community.”

Taking part are Boxford Primary School, East Bergholt Primary School, Forest Heath Academy & Elvedon Primary School, Ormiston Sudbury Academy, St Christopher’s Primary School, Stowmarket Middle & High Schools and Thurston Community College.

Last Man Standing

Last Man Standing, presented by James Wilton Dance, is an opportunity for audiences to witness street dance embracing contemporary dance. “Last Man Standing is a hotly anticipated new work from rising star James Wilton, renowned for exhilarating choreography that leaves you breathless. Wilton’s work draws on martial arts, breakdancing and capoeira to create raw, earthy and ground-breaking performances.

“It should be stunning and great entry level material for those who aren’t dance aficionados.”


Another major part of the season is family show Varmints, based on the award-winning book by Helen Ward with illustrations by Marc Craste.

“This exhilarating dance-theatre show is choreographed by B-boy and Sadler’s Wells New Wave Associate Wilkie Branson and directed by children’s theatre specialist Sally Cookson. Varmints is a rich visual piece of original dance theatre for young people and their families.

“It’s fabulous to look at and tells the poignant tale of one small creature’s struggle to preserve a world in danger of being lost forever. Every day the city grows larger and the noise grows louder, until there is so much noise, no-one can hear themselves think.

“We’re excited because we will have a specially added interactive post-show discussion in which the audience can meet the cast and discover more about the show.”

Varmints is at the DanceHouse on April 17-18 with a family workshop on Saturday April 18 at 3pm.

Promises of Happiness

May sees two events aimed at those who relish something new in the dance world. Robert Clark presents Promises of Happiness on May 1 and Theo Clinkard will be staging Of Land And Tongue on May 15.

“These two are highly regarded by the dance profession. They are bringing their new work here and I will be interested to see how local audiences respond.

“Rob always has a narrative in his head while Theo is much more about movement. So one is more about content and other about form. They are two sides of a coin.

“Robert Clark is a UK-based choreographer who has been creating work since 2006. He is renowned for his humorous and emotionally charged, intricate and detailed dance performances. Meanwhile Clinkard creates a stark and poetic duet, Chalk, which draws inspiration from the iconic cliffs of Dover.

The Spalding Suite

The Spalding Suite, on May 29-30, is another new work looking to bring a wide range of new audiences to the DanceHouse. This new physical theatre show, conceived by Inua Ellams and directed by Benji Reid, is inspired by the UK’s basketball sub-culture and explores the battles between the human body and mind in this fast-paced game.

“I am really excited by this,” said Brendan. “I saw a preview of a half finished show on the Southbank last year and was totally blown away.

“Six dynamic performers mix live beatboxing, hip hop, music, moves and poetry. It will be a spectacular evening.”


After The New Wolsey sent a physical theatre production of Macbeth to the DanceHouse last year, DanceEast are returning the favour by sending the physical comedy Hercules, by DanceEast favourites New Art Club, to the New Wolsey Theatre on June 17.

Brendan said that New Art Club are renowned for their ability to combine contemporary dance with stand-up comedy. “Tom Roden and Pete Shenton provide the closest thing that dance comes to pantomime. The last time they were here they held the audience in the palm of their hand. This time they will be combining a comic take on history with one of the best parties you’ve ever been to.

“It’s the story of Hercules told through hilarious dance routines and amazing speciality acts. It’s a modern cabaret the whole family will enjoy.”

Move-Be Moved

Summer brings DanceEast’s new community dance festival Move-Be Moved from June 21 to July 1, featuring the National Youth Dance Company from Sadler’s Wells, including seven Suffolk dancers, and the DanceEast Advanced training End of Year Show.

“I think it’s the busiest season we’ve ever programmed. But the quality was there and there was such extraordinary diversity to the work, we didn’t want to turn any of it down. Most of it is very family friendly. It’s all richly inventive and we want to get people to come and enjoy this amazing space at The DanceHouse.

“It is here for people to use and I think this programme will entertain, enchant and inspire.”

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