Friday, 22 May 2015

REVIEW: FOOTPRINT DANCE FESTIVAL: Overlooking Looking in Courtney Draddy's 'Ma'

Footprint Dance Festival
Lulham Studio
University of Roehampton
Thursday 14th May 2015

Undergraduate BA Dance Studies student Courtney Draddy presented her dissertation choreography, Ma on Footprint Dance Festival's Thursday night Barefoot performances. Ma, meaning the space between two structures of compositional elements in Japanese, explores the nature of seeing and experiencing. Interestingly, what is seen by the dancers and what the audience chooses to see are just as important as each other. Draddy creates a work that questions both how and what the audience sees.

Draddy creates a stark white landscape, reminiscent of the Japanese dance form of Butoh. The three dancers are painted white: their arms, legs, feet, hands, necks and faces streaked with white paint. Only their eyes are revealed. In addition, the dancers are dressed simply, wearing plain white vest tops and loose fitting, sheer white skirts. The lack of colour seems to strip the dancers of identity or individuality, creating a 'blank canvas' for Draddy. Yet, amongst the bleakness of the setting, a large circle on the floor is created using red string, creating a harsh contrast to the white landscape.

As well as connecting through the movement, the dancers appear to use eye contact to sustain connection. They sit and watch one another, catch each other's eyes, inspect each other's bodies, while scrutinising their own limbs. This intense 'looking' consumes Ma, captivating the audience and drawing them in from the outset.

The dancers move slowly and deliberately, calculating each movement with precision. The dancers move slowly with a sense of regality, before sudden bursts of energy shift the trio more frantically. Flexed feet and angular arm lines, with sustained transfers of weight exemplify Draddy's careful construction of the work. Additionally, delicious contact work sees the dancers connecting using their heads, backs, arms and necks as they carefully slide, lean and roll across one another. The organic quality of the movement reflects Draddy's deep and profound choreographic research. Ma is not a lighthearted or breezy work of dance.

As the work draws to a close, dancer Emily Robinson slowly picks up the red string, wrapping it carefully around her arm. The crimson string against her white skin is a striking reminder of Draddy's construction (or indeed, deconstruction) of landscape and identity. Ma demands that the audience stop and fully experience Draddy's internal and intense world of movement, without watching passively. Draddy comments on the everyday-habit of looking, but failing to see.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015


Dance Worldwide
Footprint Dance Festival
Michaelis Theatre
University of Roehampton
Tuesday 12th May 2015

Opening Tuesday's evening of Dance Worldwide at Michaelis Theatre was Roehampton alumni Shaun Dillon's moving solo Hiraeth. Exploring themes of homesickness, grief, nostalgia and aggression, Hiraeth is a brutally honest examination of Dillon's childhood.

The stage begins dark, with Dillon sitting cross legged in silence. Glinting behind him, shattered plates are strewed roughly in a semi-circle centre-stage right. A large black duffel bag lies in the shadow downstage right- literally, personal baggage. Dillon performs a series of gestures, slowly pointing to the sky and then to his heart, opening his hands, bring his hand to a salute, and finally thumping his chest with an increasing sense of aggression.

The tone of the work intensifies as the sound of children's whispers fills the auditorium. Dillon sifts through the shattered plates, as if looking for some kid of meaning or explanation. Composer Jonny Colgan's music score escalates as Dillon turns to face his shadow on the cyc. He thrashes, punches, kicks and paces, sweeping his arms in rage, as if arguing with his shadow.

The music quietens, leaving Dillon standing under a spot light, staring thoughtfully into the audience. A prerecorded speech reveals the dark story of his 13th birthday. He describes a vehement argument between his parents, only to be interrupted by a deafening scream. It is at this point that it becomes undoubtedly clear that Hiraeth is a stark insight into Dillon's childhood.

Suddenly, the clatter of broken china is heard as Dillon stumbles trying to reassemble the broken plates. The desperation and urgency in Dillon's actions appear child-like, yet also seem to have a certain familiarity as if he has tried desperately to grapple with these feelings for years.

Finally, Dillon collects his black duffel bag from the front of the stage. Flinging the weight of the bag over his shoulder, Dillon walks slowly offstage, with a hopeful look of belief across his face.

REVIEW: FOOTPRINT DANCE FESTIVAL: Feet Off The Ground Dance's 'Passenger'

Footprint Dance Festival
Michaelis Theatre
University of Roehampton
Thursday 14th May 2015

Ending Footprint Dance Festival’s Barefoot performances was a dazzling performance by Feet Off The Ground Dance. Having graduated from London Contemporary Dance School in 2013, the collective use their training in Contact Improvisation extensively in choreography. Passenger uses Contact Improvisation to explore notions of femininity and strength.

Assisted by a live musician onstage, four women seize the space, lunging, running, rolling and falling. The dancers support one another using juicy transfers of weight and making unpredictable changes of direction. Syrupy floorwork seamlessly shifts the women's weight from back, to shins, to hands as they slip across the space. Live music played by Ashley Molloy-South sets a strong sense of rhythm and pace, establishing the high energy of the work from the outset.

The dancers physically manipulate and alter one another’s movements, direction and speed, demonstrating the power of the individual and of the group. Catching dancer Sophie Thorpe, as she suspends and falls back, the group take her weight, drag her to the other side of the space and carefully lay her down. Passenger seems to be a manifestation of the coexistence of strength and support that exists within the relationships between women. While there are obvious moments of manipulation and control, there are also instances of group support that seem to thread throughout the work.

Effortless and athletic jumps, lifts and transfers of weight reveal the dancers’ first class training from London Contemporary Dance School. However, it is the dancers’ complete conviction and belief in the choreography that captures and draws the audience in from the moment it begins.

Sunday, 17 May 2015


An extremely rainy and chilly day at Footprint Dance Festival yesterday. Alice King's Pilates session began the day at 10 am in Monte Hall, followed by a Centre for  Dance Research Seminar on Romanian Sword Dancing in Lulham at lunch time.

A brief pop-up dance performance, Imprint, choreographed by BA Dance third year students Eszter Szalma and Maya Pindar was performed to an intimate audience in Digby Chapel at 13:30.

Barefoot's evening of performances began with beautiful dissertation choreography by BA Dance third year student Courtney Draddy in Lulham studio. The Footprint Team led the audience round campus to the Student Union, where Shelley Owen presented the charming Are We Dancing?
Next, in Davies Studio, Maëva Lamolière performed Momentum, inspired by the sculptures of French artist Camille Claudel. In Michaelis Studio, Megan Curet presented her exploration of the Israel/Palestine conflict in The Undoing.

Ending in Michaelis Theatre, Eleni Papaioannou presented So What?, a seemingly improvised, surprising and delightful comment on the contemporary world. Finally, the evening closed with choreography by Feet Off The Ground Dance. Using Contact Improvisation, Tracing Spaces investigates the strength within femininity.

Another wonderful, if not drizzly day at University of Roehampton, and another excellent range of performances by students and guest artists at Footprint Dance Festival.

Thursday, 14 May 2015


Dance Worldwide
Footprint Dance Festival
Michaelis Theatre
University of Roehampton
Tuesday 12th May 2015

University of Roehampton alumni Alicia Kidman presented Omni Commeo at Footprint Dance Festival's second night of evening performances. Having recently graduated from University of Roehampton, Kidman has been teaching dance in London and Austria, as well as performing and presenting choreography in London, Birmingham and Italy with Martin Prosse and Cie. Willi Dorner.

Interestingly, as well as having shown an interest in phonology and phonetics (the study of sounds) through teaching English, both Kidman's parents are English teachers by trade. Perhaps this familial interest in language and sound inspired Kidman's quirky insight into language and communication.

Omni Commeo opens with a large paper bound Cambridge dictionary under a bright spot light. The lights dim and come back up to reveal dancer Emilie Barton standing on top of the dictionary, dressed in mismatching, clashing patterned tights, skirt and layered t-shirts. On the opposite side, sits dancer Sophie Stokes, also dressed eccentrically in bright golfing socks, grey leggings and bright layered shirts.

Barton begins in silence, furiously trying to speak. She crinkles her nose and furrows her brows as she concentrates on making sounds. She experiments with language using different sounds and tones, allowing her facial expressions to affect the sounds she produces. Later, Barton and Stokes are seen interacting together, using extremely intricate and complex hand gestures. They seem to construct, deconstruct, test, grab and argue over inanimate objects. Barton and Stokes are hugely animated, setting a playful tone that persists throughout the work.

All of a sudden, the dictionary becomes the focus of Barton's attention. After breaking free from Stoke's hold, Barton begins reading the dictionary. However, with their bare feet flicking the pages, it appears that the duo read the words using their feet. Another interesting and surprising detail that Kidman carefully uses to enhance her choreography.

The strength of the work likes in Barton's and Stoke's complete conviction in the vision of the work. There is not a single moment where either dancer questions their actions (or indeed their sounds). Kidman creates an exceptionally clever work that both draws the audience in from the outset and amuses.

The work ends with both dancers sitting upstage right at the back of the stage. After a brief fracas, Stokes tears a page out of the dictionary and thrusts it into her mouth. Barton watches her with an expression of astonishment, as Stokes opens her mouth, letting the chewed up ball of paper hit the floor.

Maya Pindar

FOOTPRINT DANCE FESTIVAL: So What Happened on Wednesday?

Hump Day kicked off with an intense Pilates class led by Alice King in Monte Hall at 10am, with a great student turn out! Later, contemporary dance artist Shelley Owen led an exciting open improvisation workshop in Michaelis Studio. Again, another fantastic class with a great student turn out!

In the afternoon, a series of short dance films was shown in the RSU Bar. Student films included Ben Witcomb's exploration of the body; Hari Crook's interesting insight into the comparisons of fruit and veg with the body; and Sophie Cooper's exploration of hair. Professional dance films included work from Mami Kawabata, Ceyda Tanc's distinctive ReRosas and Harry Koushos' Weavers. The dance films were followed by a screening of the 80s dance classic Footloose (1984).

After a busy day, the evening's RAM performances kicked off at 7pm with Samantha Pardes' Asparas, Stephanie Peña's THE URGENCY OF letting, Dorit Schwartz's Cut The Cord and finally, Jana Prager's Little Broken Boxes. Peña's dancers' made an exceptional effort to keep dancing, despite the wrong score being played. Nevertheless it was wonderful to see such outstanding performances by both dancers and musicians. Special guests at the performance included Dame Jacqueline Wilson, who was extremely delighted by the performances.

Following the evening's performances was Footprint's 80s themed Fez night in Putney. The 80s themed photo competition with the Footprint mascot in Fez was a real success- the winner will be announced by the end of the week!

REVIEW: FOOTPRINT DANCE FESTIVAL: Eden Wiseman's 'The Manipulative Mind'

Dance Worldwide
Footprint Dance Festival
Michaelis Theatre
University of Roehampton
Tuesday 12th May 2015

Eden Wiseman's The Manipulative Mind opened the second half of Footprint's second night of performances. Coming from Israel, Wiseman has investigated the body interacting with raw materials greatly in recent years. The Manipulative Mind divulges into memory and experience, while exposing 'layers of humanness', through interaction with wire.

The stage is dark and bare, apart from a mysterious large dangling light bulb wrapped in silver wires. Wiseman lies on the floor, wearing a nude unitard and an intricately built wire bodice, which later becomes a kind of helmet and then later a backpack. Movement content includes a great deal of awkward self-touching: in fact to begin, Wiseman stands slowly, drawing her hands to her face, to forcefully pull her eyelids open. The tone is moody, focused and dark.

Spinning the wire covered lamp, Wiseman manages to transform the dark stage space into a new shadowy realm. She reluctantly wiggles off her wire bodice, revealing the upper half of her nude unitard, reminding us of her individual 'layers of humanness'. Wiseman gyrates, tremors and contracts, before sprawling on the floor. She pushes her face into her wire bodice, dragging her body towards the audience. The image of the wire wrapped around her head is evocative of a "busy mind", like a physical storm of thoughts. Or indeed, could be interpreted as a reference to the complex connections of neurons in our brain.

As Wiseman takes off the wire bodice, a French electro-pop track is introduced, consequently bringing about a change in movement style. She suddenly becomes more released and almost girly, as she shakes her now loose hair and bounces about the stage. The tone is now strikingly spirited, driven by the upbeat music. It is as if by discarding the wire bodice, she has revealed another very different layer of the human psyche- one of vitality and energy.

At last, she begins to peel away the final layer- her unitard. She carefully tugs at the sleeves and pulls the unitard down over her shoulder. As the lights dim, she turns away from the audience, wandering upstage. The vulnerability of her pale bare skin on her back is just noticeable as the stage darkens.

Overall, Wiseman gives an extremely unique performance. Her discussion of the human psyche, with references to thoughts and memories, as well as the physical structure of the brain is well devised. The use of wires, as cold and rigid objects create a clever juxtaposition of disconnection and connection all at once. Wiseman is definitely an artist to keep watching.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015


The second day of Footprint Dance Festival began with Kimberley Collin's Dancefit class in Monte Hall. Next was an exciting Eastern Classical Dance Workshop with Sugata Das. Teaching Bharatanatyam, Das's workshop focused on learning eight basic 'steps' and several intricate hand gestures. Overall, a very revealing and enjoyable workshop, which allowed participants to engage with Gujarati and South Indian culture.

During the afternoon, dance specialist Gill Harvey led a Dance Careers Talk on Froebel lawn. Harvey gave outstanding advice on CVs, cover letters, dance auditions and portfolios to Roehampton dance students. Later, Kurt Nagy's fabulous and high energy Jazz Workshop kicked off the afternoon's events at 14:30 in Michaelis Studio.

The evening's Dance Worldwide performances saw moving work by Shaun Dillon, a memorable and highly physical performance by French dancer Jann Gallois. Coming from Israel, Eden Wiseman's The Manipulative Mind divulged into the human mind. Roehampton alumni Alicia Kidman's Omni Commeo was a lighthearted and fun exploration of human language, which helped round off the evening's performances.

Another fantastic day on campus for Footprint Dance Festival! Looking forward to seeing you all again during the rest of the week. Only three days left of the festival!! Get dancing!!!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015


Footprint Dance Festival
Michaelis Theatre
University of Roehampton
Monday 11th May 2015

After graduating from the Northern School of Contemporary Dance and touring the UK and Switzerland with postgraduate dance company Verve'13, Crystal Zillwood has developed her unique choreographic, improvisation and teaching techniques.

At University of Roehampton's Footprint Dance Festival opening performance night, Zillwood performed Évolutio, an exploration of human evolution. Set to Goran Bregovic's moving score, Zillwood begins standing in front of a bright floor light. References to primate movement is evident from the outset. Zillwood walks, poised, gradually slouching further into her hips, before inverting onto all fours.

She shifts around with ease, padding her hands and feet into the floor. The work begins slowly, Zillwood moves carefully and deliberately. She slips smoothly from being stood tall and poised, to suddenly breaking, becoming inverted and grounded. Overall, Zillwood stays well connected to the floor, her weight surrendered to gravity. She rolls, slides and twists across the space with a sense of indulgence. But most notably, Zillwood's strength is the fluidity and seamlessness of her movement phrases, which exude a quality of soft, melted butter.

Well observed gestural details, like scratching, wiping, grooming, cycling legs and brushing appear throughout Évolutio. Towards the conclusion of the work, Zillwood is seen rotating on the floor repeating a series of discernible gestures. She mimes cooking, playing archery, conducting music, before holding out her hands as finger guns. She rebounds, bouncing slightly, as her rotation seems to get stuck, with her hands held out rigidly. Suddenly, the child-like familiarity of the finger gun gesture becomes bittersweet, as if Zillwood alluding to the brutal and callous capacity of humans.

Overall, Évolutio is an exceptionally honest and frank exploration of human evolution and of human nature. Intensified by Zillwood's effortlessly unbroken movement quality, her communication of themes and ideas is admirable. Finally as the lights dim, Zillwood crawls back to end in the fetal position, reminding us that we are indeed "only human".


Yesterday marked the first day of our wonderful Footprint Dance Festival! The opening day kicked off with an extremely successful turn out at our intense HIIT Bootcamp in Monte Hall with Kimberly Collins mid-morning. Following Bootcamp, we welcomed Shaun Dillon's outstanding Contemporary workshop at 12.30. Closing the afternoon, renowned British choreographer, performer and director, Rosemary Lee presented several of her dance films and led an uplifting choreography seminar to students and Dance Department faculty.

Concluding the day was our opening night of dance performance, Stampede. Artistic Director, Hannah Brown gave a speech giving thanks to volunteers and faculty, before inviting Rosemary Lee to speak. During an inspirational speech about the value of the arts, Lee urged 'not to put a pound sign in front of the arts' and that 'we would be poor without the arts'. 

Finally, the evening included extremely strong performances from Ceyda Tanc Dance, Crystal Zillwood and Alyssandra Katherine Wu, as well as a very amusing and humorous performance by Botis Seva. Other artists included: Loughlin Dance, Hannah K. Vincent, Moving Cities, and Peace. Positivity. Love.

Monday, 11 May 2015

FOOTPRINT DANCE FESTIVAL: Rosemary Lee Dance Film and Choreography Seminar

The first day of University of Roehampton's Footprint Dance Festival is under way! Closing the afternoon today, renowned British choreographer, director and performer Rosemary Lee led a Dance Film and Choreography Seminar.

After graduating from the Laban Centre, Rosemary Lee has created numerous site specific works and dance films, often working with installation. Lee's works are usually large scale, with performers' ages ranging from 6-80 years of age. Her choreography is often reflective of her interest in safeguarding the environment, as well as centring on a quality of taking care and listening to others.

Lee presented four of her dance films, spanning twenty years from 1995 to 2015. The oldest, Boy (1995), filmed off the coast of Norfolk, follows the imaginary world of a young boy. Sand dunes, long grass and bird song typify Lee's interest in natural materials and bird song.

Filmed in northern England, Greenman (1996), focusses on the isolation and dreams of a young man who longs for a 'greener' world. The man is seen burying his face in autumn leaves, rolling in coal and running across slag.

After some discussion, Lee presented Snow (2003), a thoughtfully constructed compilation of archival footage. Old images of Chicago snow storms, couples skating in England, images of war and Olympic skiing from the late 1800s to 1960s, were carefully organised to create a folk feel.

Finally, Lee presented her most recent dance film Liquid Gold is the Air (2015), which is currently premièring at Norwich Cathedral. The film is inspired by the 18th century poet John Clare, who was concerned with representations of the English countryside. Additionally, the work was also heavily inspired by Norwich Cathedral itself.

After each film, the audience were invited to ask questions to start discussions. Lee revealed a great interest in paganism, natural forms, and site specific work. Overall, a very inspiring and stimulating seminar.

Friday, 8 May 2015

REVIEW: Hannah Spain's 'Shift. And now I'm smaller'

Student Dance Platform
Michaelis Theatre
University of Roehampton
Sunday 3rd May 2015

Hannah Spain’s Shift. And now I’m smaller is a clever exploration of space and mass on stage. Set to Ultraista’s Gold Dayz (Maribou State Remix), the work is both hypnotic and relentless.

Spilling and melting into the space, Hannah Spain’s dancers already seem to embody the hypnotic music from the outset. Forming a long, tight line that seems to loosely resemble some kind of tentacle-encrusted insect, the dancers swing their arms and whirl their heads. Already, Spain is playing with the varying ways that space can be used and understood by both dancer and spectator.

Interestingly, Spain opts to emphasise the shadows of her dancers on the cyclorama, which adds another dimension to her choreography. The dancers exit to leave soloist Chelsea Croft to perform a short phrase of grounded turns, back bends and sustained suspensions. Yet, her two shadows, slipping and pushing across the cyclorama behind her, create the feeling that she is not alone on stage. They also serve to add a certain amount of strength and power, since they allow the audience to experience Croft’s movement from a different perspective and through a different lens.

Finally, with its expansive movement, quick changes of level and tight spatial formations, Spain’s choreography is brimming with relentless energy. Shift. And now I’m smaller appears like a canvas of bodies, which Spain carefully constructs and deconstructs in front of the audience. Ending cyclically, the dancers find themselves back in the long, tight line from the opening. As the lights dim, they begin to crumble and break away, slipping back offstage, as they did four minutes earlier.

REVIEW: Maisie Sadgrove's 'Lotus Eater'

Student Dance Platform
Michaelis Theatre
University of Roehampton
Sunday 3rd May 2015

Maisie Sadgrove’s bold choreography was executed with strength and power by her dancers’ full-bodied performance. Set to Mura Masa’s Japanese electronica, Lotus Eater was a dark monochrome world of self-assertion and power.

Although Lotus Eater is described as an exploration of purity within movement, inspired by the power of the lotus flower in Buddhist and Hindu beliefs, the references to Buddhism and Hinduism did not seem to emerge as prevalent ideas.

Nevertheless, themes of strength and power were clearly visible in Sadgrove’s wide stances, deep lunges and striking lines. Riddled with rippling torsos and long unfurling arms, Lotus Eater oozed with energy and weight. The choreography allowed the dancers to assume a sense of authority and assertion as they executed both delicate hand gestures and powerful, explosive movement.

Moreover, Sadgrove’s simple yet effective choreography clearly reflected the idea of purity. With little choreographic embellishments or over-exaggeration, Lotus Eater remained clean and ‘un-cluttered’, which added a sense of style and finesse to Sadgrove’s choreography.

Despite the power and strength of both Sadgrove’s choreography and of her dancers, Lotus Eater felt like unfinished business. The work seemed to finish abruptly, leaving the audience wanting more. Having said that, Lotus Eater has a great amount of potential to go further. With deeper exploration of the lotus imagery, and some refinement of the religious references, Lotus Eater could be a significantly robust and compelling work.

REVIEW: Jazz Andrew's 'Let Her Go'

Student Dance Platform
Michaelis Theatre
University of Roehampton
Sunday 3rd May 2015

Thrown into a shadowy realm of sunburnt silhouettes and sunsets, Jazz Andrew’s Let Her Go seems to sum up the pain and tenderness of young love. While Passenger’s folk-pop Underwater Bride reflects on keeping everything ‘locked into memory’, Andrew’s intricate gestural detail and ebbing momentum also appears like a tape of childhood memories.

Typically of Andrews, her carefully constructed formations reflect the elegant orchestration of her dancers’ bodies, as they roll, fall and twist. Their arms unfurl, thrashing and clutching at the air. All eight dancers move with precision and clear, calm intention- a manifestation of Andrews’ confidence in the themes and emotion behind her work.

Although Let Her Go uses a great deal of unison, moments of solo, canon and stillness create different stories for each dancer. Dancing alone in one corner of the stage, as others watch on, each individual seems nostalgic of a time before, as if longing for someone or something. Simultaneous acceptance and anguish also seems to be a theme that threads through Let Her Go.

Overall, Andrews’ Let Her Go is a moving piece of dance that especially reaches out to young adults. Andrews’ choreographic commitment to the imagery of Passenger’s lyrics further emphasises the themes of loss, pain and longing within the stories of each dancer. With references to these universal struggles, Andrews’ choreography c

REVIEW: Molly Simpson's 'She Said: What?'

Student Dance Platform
Michaelis Theatre
University of Roehampton
Sunday 3rd May 2015

Set to Kate Nash’s charming love song Birds, Molly Simpson’s light-hearted tap routine was a fun, feel good opening to the Student Dance Platform. As the audience enter the theatre, dancer Louise Ware sits casually using her mobile, with a bright pink rucksack strapped to her back. As the lights dim, nine other dancers, dressed in pretty floral skirts join her on stage, standing in staggered lines on individual coloured square mats.

While adding a certain quirkiness to Simpson’s She said: What?, the dancers’ physical restriction to the mats seemed to stop them from executing the movement as fully as they could have done. Yet, the quick changes of level from being upright to suddenly low and grounded was greatly refreshing.

A conversation between Ware and the other dancers follows Nash’s lyrics, reminding us of the sincerity of Nash’s love song and the narrative unfolding in front of the audience. One dancer breaks away from the others and mimes along to Nash, ‘you look well nice’, emphasising Simpson’s quirky choreography.

Despite the complexity of the steps, overall the movement was slow and relaxed. Nash’s touching Birds added an element of girly sincerity to the work. With the addition of dim lighting and shadows that seem to obscure the dancers’ faces, Simpson effectively creates a summery evening feel.