DanceEast offer audiences digital treats this Christmas

Two dancers performing in a studio space

Solstice is a digital performance created by choreographer Kwesi Johnson as part of DanceEast's desire to spread some Christmas cheer to local people - Credit: Chris Nash

Ipswich's DanceEast is to stage two digital performances for the festive season - after being determined to keep entertainment going during the Covid-19 crisis.

The pandemic has proved a huge stumbling block in commissioning new dance theatre.

Two dancers performing in a virtual space

Solstice is an interactive dance performance which people can access via a window display outside the DanceHouse on Ipswich Waterfront - Credit: Chris Nash

However, DanceEast's chief executive and artistic director, Brendan Keaney, has organised two alternatives with the help of its new digital suite, for which it recently received a £60,000 grant.

The first is a celebration called The Super Awesome Digital Disco, hosted by choreographer and community dance mentor Tom Hobden.

Digitally enhanced image of dancers at a disco

DanceEast's Super Awesome Digital Disco will be hosted by community dance mentor Tom Hobden - Credit: Chris Nash

Mr Hobden said: “This fun, 50-minute Zoom party will be a blast of silliness and a perfect way to replace a missed Christmas party, a cancelled school disco or even make a change from board games night.


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“This exciting Zoom experience will get everyone dancing and enjoying huge belly laughs at the same time; it involves games, classic dance hits, dad dancing and more.”

The Super Awesome Digital Disco will be available from 7pm Thursday, December 17 to Saturday, December 19 and can be booked online at the DanceEast website.

There will be an additional ‘late night’ edition for adults on Saturday, December 19 starting at 8.30pm.

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A digital window installation entitled Solstice, choreographed and directed by Kwesi Johnson, will follow this - and encourages passers-by to stop and interact with the dancers on a screen.  

Looking out on to Foundry Lane from the windows of the Jerwood DanceHouse, Solstice explores the Winter Solstice and the various festivals that bring everyone together at this time of year.

It will be performed by four local dance artists - including DanceEast Centre for Advanced Training alumni and DanceEast’s hip hop tutor - and filmed by F E N Y C E in the new digital suite at the Jerwood DanceHouse.

It will be available until the end of January.

Mr Keaney said: “I can’t pretend that we’re not disappointed to not be presenting a traditional show this Christmas.

"Rather than dwell on the loss however, we have decided to put on our thinking caps and try out some new ideas.

"Where there is a challenge there is always an opportunity and we are very excited about where this is taking us.”

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