Celebrating 25 years and Counting….Review

In celebrating the past, present and future of East London Dance, Thursday 12 & Friday 13 September saw a huge variety of performances come together under one roof at Stratford Circus in the London borough of Newham. The abundance of vitality, passion and talent was overwhelming in the celebration of East London Dance’s 25 years, with the first piece of the evening even gaining a Royal seal of approval. ‘Family Tree’ was originally conceived as part of the Coronation Festival earlier this year, with a scaled down excerpt of the performance presented for East London Dance. Featuring performers from Middlesex University, Kingston University, University of East London and One Youth Dance, the piece was packed full of energy and celebrated the influence of the Commonwealth on contemporary Britain.

Also featured as part of this special evening was an excerpt of Wayne McGregor’s ‘FAR’, inspired by the controversial Age of Enlightenment. As a previous neighbour of East London Dance as the Redbridge Council dance co-ordinator, McGregor’s work epitomises the aesthetic qualities of contemporary dance today in the twenty-first century. Stunning to watch and particularly representative of McGregor’s specific performance style, the two dancers truly represented the prestigious company of such a renowned choreographer and his huge repertoire of work.

In a different turn of events Folk Dance Remixed presented ‘Step Hop House’ which was thoroughly successful in merging live music, folk and break-dance, clogging and even beat boxing in an eclectic mix. The event was a true crowd-pleaser and worked to demonstrate the sheer versatility and variety of all East London Dance has archived the last quarter of a century. The narrative strand gradually introduced through the many individuals performing was a unique combination of humour and skill, and even some signature Michael Jackson moves.

It was the representation of youth dance throughout the evening however that truly celebrated East London Dance, the organisation’s future. Companies such as Avant Garde Youth and Unity Academy were fierce, slick and professional in their sharp expression and conveyance of their material. The young dancers were incredibly talented and gave much hope for the future of dance, particularly in the East of London. It is presumed that there were more than one set of goosebumps throughout the audience during the performances of these dancers in particular!

The sheer dedication of all the dance artists involved in celebrating East London Dance’s 25 years were full of optimism, championing the many skills and concepts seen on the stage as just a snapshot of what national and even international dance can offer in the future whilst carrying on the legacy of East London Dance.

The full line up included:Jeanefer Jean-charles & The Dhol Foundation (Family Tree), Benji Reid with Generation XYZ (L’Enveloppe), Wayne McGregor | Random Dance (excerpt from FAR), Folk Dance Remixed (Step Hop House), Avant Garde Youth, Unity Academy, Caroline Bowditch with Candoco Artists (Internal Rupture), Botis Seva (Street Stories), Rosie Whitney Fish, Sean Graham, C-12 Dance Theatre, Katie P, Myself UK Dance, Unity UK & Avant Garde Dance.

Review from Jessica Wilson (Dance Direct & Whatspeenseen)

Photo: Alex Rumford

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