Manchester dance: Autumn round-up

Deb Ashby
Photo of Akram Khan hanging upside down amid a maze of paper

From Halloween specials to incredible solo performances, here are the dance events you won’t want to miss – brought to you by Dance Manchester.

Halloween seems to become a bigger event each year. So, whet your appetite for the dark side with Mark Bruce Company’s Dracula, which won the South Bank Sky Arts Award for dance in 2014. Coming to Contact on 10 October, the production merges Gothic novels and contemporary dance, and is performed by an ensemble of ten dancers. They include Jonathan Goddard in the lead role, the first contemporary dancer to win the Critics Circle National Dance Award for best male dancer. Dracula is followed up by Beauty of the Beast by Company Chameleon at The Lowry (22-23 Oct), after which Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands takes a fresh look at Tim Burton’s magical modern fairy tale (25-29 Nov). Lots to sink your teeth in to there (sorry).

Witness one of those rare moments when a phenomenon is born

Villains continue to pervade the autumn season: telling the story of when, in ancient times, an evil emperor used sorcery to harness the five elements is The Five and The Prophecy of Prana (The Lowry, 11-12 Nov). Superhero comics, manga, kung fu movies and hip hop combine in this show by Boy Blue Entertainment. Boy Blue is also involved in the Signatures Youth Greater Manchester dance showcase in January 2015 (to apply, see Dance Manchester’s website). Back to the professionals. Mixing classical ballet and Latin dance styles is Grupo Corpo from Brazil; it brings 22 performers to The Lowry for two nights only (17-18 Oct).

Some years ago I was lucky enough to witness one of those rare moments when a phenomenon is born. Sitting in a church in Newcastle, alongside dance industry professionals from across the world, I witnessed Akram Khan pull off the remarkable feat of impressing a critical crowd with a Kathak solo (Kathak is a traditional dance form from Northern India). Almost 15 years later, and the Akram Khan Company is still the hot ticket. Revisiting this intimate solo, Khan returns to his homeland for Desh (The Lowry, 13-14 Nov). Visuals for the performance are by Tim Yip, who was behind the costumes and art design for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Or try Rising (The Lowry, 28-29 Nov), the debut production of one of Akram Khan’s former mentees, Aakash Odera. It’s an evening of four solos, performed by Odera and choreographed by dance giants Russell Maliphant, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Akram Khan himself. Unmissable.

Finally, the Leeds-based contemporary dance company Pheonix Dance brings a triple bill to The Lowry, including two world premieres. Its Mixed Programme includes See Blue Through, a piece set in an undersea world that looks set to be stunning (2 Oct). So, from thrillers to astonishing solo pieces, autumn has a whole lot of dance to offer.

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