Saturday, 31 December 2016

Terpsichore Titles: Contemporary Company of 2016

(c) 2016 Jane Lambert
All rights reserved

I've seen a lot of contemporary dance this year:  the National Dance Company of Wales and BalletLorent in Huddersfield (see Cambriophilia 19 March 2016 and BalletLorent  3 Oct 2016), Rambert at the Lowry (see Red Hot Rambert 1 Oct 2016) the Royal Ballet's Wayne McGregor triple bill at Covent Garden (see McGregor Triple Bill 18 Nov 2016) and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and Nederlands Dans Theater 2 at the Bradford Alhambra (see Prickling - NDT2 in Bradford 1 May 2016 and Alvin Ailey in Bradford 29 Sept 2016) and the Lowry (see NBT2 at the Lowry 24 April 2016 and Alvin Ailey in Salford 8 Oct 2016). But for me, 2016 was the year of Phoenix.

It is 35 years since David Hamilton, Donald Edwards and Vilmore James founded Phoenix Dance Theatre in Leeds.  As the tour page on the company's website put it:
"From small beginnings in inner-city Leeds, Phoenix Dance Theatre has grown to be one of the UKs leading contemporary dance companies."
The company has some of my favourite dancers such as Carmen Vazquez Marfil, Sandrine MoninSam Vaherlehto, Vanessa Vince-Pang and Prentice Whitlow. It also has in its artistic director, Sharon Watson,  an excellent choreographer and it has just commissioned for the first time a work from one of its own dancers (see Calyx 8 Dec 2016).

As I said in Phoenix's 35th Anniversary Tour 18 Feb 2016:
"Phoenix contributes much to the cultural life of the North of England and the nation not only through its performances but also by its educational and outreach work which includes workshops on tour, academies for young people in Leeds and the North East and schools partnerships. The statistics are impressive. According to the programme for yesterday's performance there were 641 workshops engaging 2,379 young people in Leeds between 2014 and 2015 and a further 228 engaging 1,360 young persons outside the city with a total audience of 91,128."
The "performance" to which I referred was a celebration of Phoenix's 35th anniversary at the West Yorkshire Playhouse on 17 Feb 2016 with Sharon Watson's Melt, Kate Flatt's Undivided Loves and Itzik Galili's Until.With/Out.Enough.  It was a very special evening.

For all these reasons Phoenix Dance Theatre is my contemporary company for 2016.

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