Manchester Dance: A bumper harvest

Deb Ashby
Photo of a dancer lit gold

We’ve squeezed rather a lot of shows into our roundup of the autumn dance season in Manchester – there were just too many good ones…

First up, the superheroes of dance (or perhaps comedy) who are behind the New Art Club bring Hercules – A Dance Cabaret to Contact on 29 October. Once local likely lads, the company’s artistic directors Tom Roden and Pete Shenton have gone on to world domination with their own unique comic take on contemporary movement. In this show the paragon of masculinity in Greek myth proves he can dance, too. Who knew?

Also towards the end of October – and during half term – the Whitworth will be taken over by STRIDE, a young men’s dance project from Dance Manchester and Company Chameleon (24-31 Oct). There will be public performances in the galleries; for an idea of what to expect, drop into the free taster session at Z-Arts on 12 September.

Over at The Lowry, meanwhile, you can be transported to a traditional Mãori village, meet magical digital creatures, see Taniwha puppetry and experience dance, song and the Haka. The Kapa Haka Tale by Corey Baker Dance (20 Oct) takes rare look at Mãori culture in New Zealand, the country where Corey did his classical dance training.

Akram Khan returns with a revival of Kaash, featuring collaboration with sculptor Anish Kapoor

Little people can also enjoy Birmingham Royal Ballet’s children’s version of Swan Lake, (suitable for 3-7, 25 Sept, The Lowry). Here, a storyteller introduces the characters and sets the scene, offering bite sized chunks of this ballet staple. For adults, BRB’s full length Swan Lake is also on The Lowry’s stage 23-26 September.

October also sees the return of the hotly-anticipated Manchester Science Festival, which includes a dance and technology performance at the Museum of Science and Industry called Body of Light, for which washing machines, microwaves, hair dryers and fridges combine to create a cleverly crafted soundscape (2325 Oct). Choreographed by Manchester based Darren Pritchard and co-presented by Dance Manchester, movement in the show will create colour and light through the use of Kinect One technology.

Perhaps less likely to be on your radar is the fact that this year marks the 20th year of a collaboration between the Olivier Award-winning choreographer Russell Maliphant with lighting designer Michael Hulls. Conceal | Reveal at The Lowry (22 Oct) revives the iconic ‘Broken Fall’, originally danced by Sylvie Guillem and the Ballet Boyz, now danced by Maliphant’s own company, alongside a specially commissioned solo for former Royal Ballet dancer Dana Fouras. This in contrast to a harsher view of life with Northern Ballet’s staging of George Orwell’s 1984, at The Palace Theatre (14-17 Oct).

Equally tough in subject is Dark Arteries from the UK’s oldest contemporary dance company, Rambert. Inspired by the 30th anniversary of the miners’ strike, it pays homage to this infamous struggle for survival with the added musical muscle of a brass band (30 Sept – 2 Oct, The Lowry). Dark Arteries is the centrepiece of a triple bill that also includes The 3 Dancers, based on Picasso’s work of the same name, and the atmospheric Terra Incognita.

Two final shows to mention at The Lowry. First, Erhebung, inspired by ‘Burnt Norton’ from T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, combines Indian dance with a sculpture created by Jeff Lowe and a soundscape by Bill Fontana (20 Sept). Then stunning choreographer and dancer Akram Khan returns with a revival of Kaash, his company’s first full length work (6-7 Oct). Featuring collaborations with sculptor Anish Kapoor and musician Nitin Sahwney, Kaash reaches across the border between classical Kathak (a South Asian dance form) and contemporary dance – and is, perhaps, the highlight of the season.

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