7 November 2010

Spanish story. French music. Slovak dancing. Great drama.

I love dance and am trying to find ways to see more of it. Mostly this means getting myself more organised!

The latest opportunity came via my Czech/Slovak connections through whom I learned that the Slovak Dance Theatre were performing their version of Carmen for two nights only at Jacksons Lane in Highbury.

I did not know anybody else who was going but I was free that evening and Highbury is not that hard to get to (when the Northern Line is working) so I thought that I would give it a go. And I'm glad that I did.

The first good news was that the tube strike had no impact on my travel and the second was that some people that I knew were also there. One of them, Ruzena, is Vice Chair of the British Czech and Slovak Association (BCSA) and she had done some publicity for the event and had been rewarded with a ticket. A quick word with the organisers from here and I had a reserved seat too.

Jacksons Lane, a former church, looks to be an excellent community venue. The theatre seats around 120 people, there is a nice cafe that boasts a good selection of vegetarian food, a small bar and a mix of community spaces some of which were also in use that evening.

I had a little idea of what to expect from a short video but that's never a fair way to judge anything so I sat in my seat in the middle of the second-back row with an open mind.

The first thing you notice is that it's a small group so each of the dancers has several roles, sometimes crossing genders to do so.

The dancing is energetic and expansive making full use of the depth, width and height of the stage. The set remains constant and largely anonymous as a series of scenes are played out before it, smoothly flowing from one to the other as the story unfolds.

The tension of the drama is maintained throughout (there is no break) as we watch the various couples come together, argue, split, flirt, reconcile and, eventually, kill.

The standing ovation at the end was well deserved.

This is only the second time that I've gone to see dancing by myself at short notice and it's worked better than expected both times. Must do it again.

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