DanceEast showcases new work for families

Golilocks and the Three Bears by Northern Ballet part of the DanceEast spring season

Golilocks and the Three Bears by Northern Ballet part of the DanceEast spring season - Credit: Archant

DanceEast’s seasons tend to have a broad, over-arching theme which loosely ties together a series of unrelated events. In the past we have had seasons of world premieres or a season of shows which looked at migration and international cultures.

Material Men redux part of the DanceEast spring season

Material Men redux part of the DanceEast spring season - Credit: Archant

These loosely allied seasons are not meticulously pre-meditated by artistic director Brendan Keaney but he is very good at picking up on trends and marrying together existing shows with newly- commissioned works which hang together as a cohesive whole.

Each season when announced looks as if it has been designed as a bespoke piece of themed dance theatre.

In recent years the spring programme has always been about presenting work from emerging young artists and companies, however, this year the emphasis has changed slightly and is now more about staging work that will appeal to emerging young audiences.

DanceEast have created a colourful season which has been designed to not only showcase new work but also appeal to family audiences.

DanceEast Spring 2017 season, Showcase

DanceEast Spring 2017 season, Showcase - Credit: Archant


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These are not children’s shows but imaginative dance productions that will appeal to different generations within the same family. Brendan believes that dance becomes a really outstanding work of art when the same performance can allow anyone from the age of eight to 88 to enter the piece at their own level and gain something from it.

Although there is a clear family theme, Brendan says the spring programme was the result of being alert and reacting to a number of happy accidents rather than planning something specific two or three years in advance.

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“It has been a priority for DanceEast, for a number of years, to develop, produce and present high quality dance for young audiences and their families. There is certainly more to choose from than there was five years ago and we have been fortunate this season, due to several happy coincidences, to have been able to schedule in three great productions.”

The shows which have a particular appeal for family audiences are Casson and Friends: Night at the Theatre on February 4, Second Hand Dance’s show Getting Dressed on March 18-20 and finally Goldilocks and the Three Bears staged by Northern Ballet on April 8. Night at the Theatre combines a mixture of dance theatre, audio-description and imaginative storytelling. When three friends become trapped in an abandoned theatre, little do they know they will soon become the stars of their own show.

Perfect for those who love an adventure, Night at the Theatre will be an immersive dance theatre experience and promises to be a fantastic introduction to dance and theatre for young people, with just a hint of audience participation.

In addition to the family shows there is a strong community element to the season with the Spring Showcase and U DanceEast with contributions from the various DanceEast youth companies. These performances are spread over the February 11-12 weekend.

DanceEast tutors Mary Davies, Lynette King and Caroline Mummery are taking dance out of the studio and into rural areas of Suffolk, recruiting 200 dancers for a community production of a new work, The Inkwell. The dancers come from Babergh, Mid Suffolk and Forest Heath areas of Suffolk and have put together a performance piece which explores the nature of dreams and imagination. The Inkwell will be staged at the DanceHouse on March 11. The season also has a world dance sensibility about it with Shobana Jeyasingh presenting Material Men redux on February 24. This will be performed by two dazzling dancers of Indian heritage, each choosing styles that couldn’t be more different; classical Indian and hip hop.

Then on March 31 Africarmen fuses together ballet, contemporary and African dance to create a new take on the Carmen story, while on April 28 José Agudo will be staging a preview performance of his new work Silk Road. This piece provides a fascinating and vibrant exploration through dance, of rituals that took place along this ancient trade route across Asia.

The final element of the spring season is provided by the James Cousins Company who in Rosalind are bringing Shakespeare to the world of dance. This production at the DanceHouse on May 5 is also one of Brendan’s highlights of the season.

When asked which productions he is particularly pleased with he answers without hesitation: “I would recommend everything of course, as it’s all good! If I had to pick one particular production it would be Shobana Jeyasingh who is coming to the DanceHouse for the first time. She is an extraordinary dance-maker of amazing pedigree and we are very lucky to have her touring a work of this scale to Ipswich. For those who have seen James Cousins’ work before you will know you are in for a great evening and for those who haven’t you should grab this opportunity, as he is one of the most talked-about young choreographers of the moment.”

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