Dance in Manchester: Dance in the New Year

Deb Ashby

Dance Manchester round up the city’s best dance events in the early part of 2015 – including Hofesh Shechter, Richard Alston at The Lowry and DV8’s new masterpiece, John.

Iconic voices open 2015’s dance programme, with Richard Alston, Wim Vandekeybus and Lloyd Newson all showing they still have more to say. Their unique and contrasting approaches provide the landmarks that have guided and inspired the steps of many of the next generation of choreographers – and now, they’re returning to Manchester with new work, and well-loved classic pieces.

First up, Richard Alston – the choreographer who established the first independent contemporary dance company in the UK. Coming to The Lowry on 10 February is Rejoice the Lamb, a triple bill that celebrates the relationship between dance and music. Two of the works – the title-piece and Illuminations – are choreographed by Alston, and both are set to the music of Benjamin Britten. Alston dedicates his new work to Walter Hussey, who commissioned Britten but also introduced his young neighbour Alston to a world of contemporary classics. The third piece is a work by Martin Lawrence called Burning and set to Franz Liszt’s Dante Sonata, which will complete this stunning line-up.

The city’s very best dance events in the early part of 2015

From new to old work: What the Body Does Not Remember was the debut work of dance company Ultima Vez in 1987, led by choreographer Wim Vandekeybus. It still remains a vital work 28 years later, and is soon to be revived at the Lowry (13-14 March). Vanderkeybus describes the aims of this work as being raw emotion, physical power and guts – all of which the dancers combine to achieve, with split second timing and moves on the edge of danger.

DV8 Physical Theatre’s John, meanwhile, looks at a life of crime, drug abuse and a struggle to survive. Drawn from interviews with more than 50 men, Artistic Director Lloyd Newson fashions an intimate and explicit portrayal of one individual; John is laid bare through movement and spoken word. Established in 1986, the award-winning DV8 Physical Theatre have been an incubator for many outstanding UK artists, including Nigel Charnock, Wendy Houston, Jeremy James and not least Lloyd Newson himself. John is a co-production with the National Theatre; catch this candid piece from a highly-influential company on 26-27 February at The Lowry.

Joining the list of influential names coming to Manchester this season are Jasmin Varimon Company – who bring Park to The Lowry on 3 March – and Hofesh Shechter Company, whose new work The Bad is part of the trailblazer in the run up to the opening of HOME (30 April – 2 May). But who is following in the footsteps of these dance giants?

Rising star Aakash Odera returns to Manchester with a full evening of his own work for Murmur and Inked at Contact theatre on 25 February. Smallpetitklein, meanwhile, present Within This Dust, a moving visual work inspired by photos from 9/11 at The Lowry (5-6 March). This is followed by Falling in Love with Frida, in which Caroline Bowditch explores the live and loves of painter Frida Kahlo (20 March, The Lowry). Finally, Rosie Kay brings an adaptation of her 2010 stage work 5 Soldiers to Rusholme Army Reserve Centre on 29-30 May, presented by HOME.

Last but not least – a festival. Turn is an annual micro festival of dance, presenting up to 15 new works from choreographers from across the North West and brought together by the partners hAb, Contact and Dance Manchester. Over two nights at Contact (27-28 March), you can pick out the artist who you think will inspire the future – and whose landmark work you can say you saw here first.

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