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 Post subject: Hip - 2002
PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2002 7:42 am 
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<img src="http://www.londondance.com/images/Storypics/Brenda_Edwards_hip1.jpg" alt="" />
<small>Brenda Edwards</small>

Hip @ the Place
For a second year, Hip a celebratory season of Black British Dance runs at the Place from 21 November to 4 December. From the londondance website.

Achingly-hip is a phrase that springs to mind, but the only ache likely to be experienced here is the jaw-dropping and the heart-stopping of the audience as they witness Hip’s mesmerising blend of audacious agility and eclectic experimentation in this dynamic week-long event of black dance, workshops and talks. The diverse line up accesses all areas of dance, from African to Ballet to Jazz, to capture the coolness, the inventiveness, the energy – in short, the hipness – of black British dance today.

Artistic Director Brenda Edwards was the first black woman to dance with the English National Ballet, and through Hip she continues to challenge our perceptions of black British dance and to reinvent the language and boundaries of movement.

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 Post subject: Re: Hip - 2002
PostPosted: Tue Dec 03, 2002 3:27 am 
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Location: Michigan USA / London UK
HIP 1 + 1, Wednesday 27 Nov 02
A one-man carnival. Jamaican born and based artist, Frederick “Tippa” Moncrieffe, dances an informal “demonstration” of Jamaican Dance Hall. Rambling with charm. 100% & full 100 has no focus other than Tippa’s own flirtatious yet humble personality. This innovator of contemporary Caribbean dance wanders around the stage to popular tunes such as Sean Paul’s “Jus Gimme Da Light” and a lively Reggae mix of Michael Jackson’s “Rock My World.” He wears a manila t-shirt with baggy, torn trousers displaying his name in felt tip. Backlit by lighting reminiscent of the Jamaican flag, he lip-synchs, mimes football kick-ups and kindly addresses the disrespectful man in the audience who’s on his mobile phone. The younger members of the audience are dancing in the aisles near the back row. They honour him as some Ambassador of Ragga. Everyone in the audience participates by clapping in Tippa’s rhythm game. Then seven enthusiastic volunteers join him on stage to “wiggle it.” And just when the final applause dies down, Tippa pops back on stage with a burst of show stopping, adorable energy.

After a 20-minute irritatingly unannounced interval, HIP 1 + 1 brings us "Go." Gerard Gourdot's delectable hour of dance theatre during which, like when you eat too much chocolate, the bits eventually all taste the same and you become nauseous. Benin-born, France-based Julie Dossavi shines in this one-woman epic. She certainly outlasts her audience. Dossavi leaves you with barely enough energy to get yourself home. She portrays a Black woman struggling between the culture of her roots and that of contemporary techno. Accompanied by a live, seated DJ and a dizzying video, she floats across the stage as an African priestess, combines humour and dignity, performs a complex musical composition with just her mouth, and transcends rigidity. A half-hour into her performance, Dossavi is released by the sounds of Reggae. Her face and hips are liberated. She spins into climax and the audience erupts in applause. It’s beautiful and orgasmic. Unfortunately, Dossavi now begins to move again. She has begun another section of the piece, slow and stale. The moment has been ruined. And so this climax then re-start then climax then re-start occurs for another 30 minutes...to the point of utter exhaustion. The audience watches the piece end so many times, they have no idea where they ultimately end-up. Yet wherever and whenever that occurs, Dossavi emerges strong and victorious.

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 Post subject: Re: Hip - 2002
PostPosted: Tue Dec 03, 2002 5:54 pm 
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Location: London/Chicago
Witnessing Hip: 12 x 1

By Thea Nerissa Barnes

I saw Hip: 12 x 1 on Saturday 30 November. The theme of the evening was to spotlight the eclectic line of African, Caribbean and black British dance and capture the essential “hipness” of its practitioners. Having “hipness” though is definitely just a starting point to describe the dance works presented in this program. Sitting in the back to the left of centre so I could have my panoramic view of the stage and a soft light to write my notes, the Howard theatre did have a noticeable electric buzz. The gathering was like a city meeting of dance makers and aficionados gathered in this corner of the African Diaspora to witness, acknowledge, and respect the dance work that all its members do. Choreographers, professional dancers, scholars, managers, friends, movers and shakers were present.

Hip: 12 x 1 illustrated a diversity of singular approaches to the composition of a dance solo and as lights dimmed and a long silence, I witnessed the telling of experience as only these dance artist could do. How do you make a dance solo? What choices are there and the guidance behind decisions to share the result of time spent examining self and the circumstance a person finds her or him self in? Each solo, some choreographed by the dancers themselves, found its source in lived experience that was then visualised through movement. Hip: 12 x 1 actually presented 14 solos by artists who each in her or his own way encapsulate a phenomenal amount of embodied knowledge. Synthesis and manipulation of movement nuances, sense and sensibilities learned in the Diaspora that individualise contemporary dance and classical ballet vocabularies offered altered significance. The use of African/South African, Caribbean, and streetdance lexicons of moves and moods also illustrated the breath of movement expression used to achieve singular modes of art practice. For me Hip: 12 x 1 illustrated how a person can take embodied knowledge and weld it to exemplify her or his life. These solos illustrated how “I” have lived, what “I” have seen and how “I” have dealt with the joy, the teachings, the pain, tolerance, my satisfaction or diss-ing, my fight to be all that “I” am.

Namron’s “Missing” is a reflection on his son who is missing. As Namron sat on a chair centre stage, turned his head from side to side with searching gaze and with a cane rose and moved into postures relating elder to youth, I empathised with his loss and sensed that this work was a metaphor illustrating a part of his life that was dear but now only remembrance.

Francis Angoli’s “Dancing Proverbs-Hidden Meaning” with music by Black Enigma travelled along a corridor of white light interpreting text that was not known to me. I longed to read the words that had inspired such clarity in African dance that took Angoli into the floor and in the air with intricate polyrhythmical and polycentric movements. Despite this I admired Angoli’s dance, sculpted movements from his chosen lexicon of movement that revealed the complex configurations of his individualised intrepretation.

Melanie Teall spoke as she moved in her choreography “The Invitation”. Some of the words I missed but those I heard indicated a conversation in which a woman shares her apprehensions and her need for reciprocation when offering self. Teall’s movements were 3 dimensional and like surround sound her arms and legs reached, bent, and soared in every direction in a lyrical but somehow punctuated way. Teall’s expressing spoke through the sensibilities of contemporary dance and with soft music playing underneath her voice at times a whisper, I felt as if I were ease dropping on a pray.

Alan Miller’s Physionyx had live singers, Zena Edwards and Randolph Matthews dressed in white standing in the upstage right corner. At first Miller’s static poses mimed the words but I soon understood the movement choices that illustrated a particular effort. It is an effort to be all things to everyone, and even more of a demand to change muscles and thinking so much you almost forget who you are. I can empathise with the effort of embodying several lexicons of movement with their diverse aesthetic requirements. The anguish when my efforts are not respected no matter how “well” I achieve them. It can drive a person mad as Miller illustrates as he moves on a diagonal performing a ballet phrase, a contemporary dance phrase, a Caribbean/African movement phrase in increasing speed that for me was a metaphor for a scream. Miller’s plaintive reach towards the end was for me the period at the end of his testimony of embodied knowledge illustrating itself in an effort to examine experience.

Diane Mitchell moved in silence at first then the music of Nina Simone and Cyro Baptists accompanied her. “Know Di I” is a Rastafarian text and signifies just what is says; know your “self”. Mitchell used a skirt poetically manipulating postures that signify her experiences of woman-ness. Mitchell’s moves tap her contemporary and Caribbean dance expertise and conjure familiar images of myself and other sistas who despite neglect and disrespect manage to stay gorgeous and glow as we turn a walk into a sassy, defiant strut.

Tippa does Ragga in his own way, Jamaican Dance Hall culture that has sources in 1980’s Reggae sound and rhythms. With Africa in the root Tippa’s moves have varied sensibilities that seem American city, streetwise and electronic. Flashing lights and Michael Jackson moves with tick, wave, body locking, Tippa flowed in and out of the Jamaican Dance Hall vocabulary. His stride is attached to Jamaican shores but touches the varied street dance sensibilities of the African Diaspora.

Yvette Perry Campbell presented “Holding On”, a work illustrating her personal dilemma of balancing motherhood with her aspirations in dance. Campbell’s embodied knowledge is vested in American contemporary dance with that Alvin Ailey edge. For me she danced defiance and with empowering reaches with her right arm, to the sky, to the Creator, or maybe its a reach to save her dreams, she seemed to proclaim, “I will not fail my child or myself”.

Stewart Arnold performed “Redemption” with Somesh Henry playing guitar and singing Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”. Sitting on a black box centre stage, Arnold began with an open white shirt. Bondage and suppression are overcome as Arnold moved from the limitations of the box to the openness of full stage and similarly leaving the “white” shirt balled up on the floor. These solos indicated for me what “we” have been through revealing autobiographical, first person statements interpreting inspirational passages or about real-life angst. Displaying the struggle and offering a way out each solo is testimony of how to endure. The music perhaps not the best choice or maybe the physique not delivering the message intended but all were evidence of existence in the African Diaspora. Digging it (this existence) or ripping it apart, each tells a life story, an inspiration, or an incident that needed to be danced about. Metaphor or abstraction each solo exemplifies embodied knowledge of Africanised vocabularies to portray something felt in a singular life.

In the second half Sheron Wray’s solo presented 3 statements, each needing a different arrangement of the lilac velour that she wore as wings, veil, and coverlet. This solo also presented a singular interpretation from a woman’s perspective that with the lilac velour dress accentuated Wray’s power as a contemporary dance artist. Modulating her dynamics from poetically interpreting the spiritual music of Derek Bermel to varied postures of strength and resolve to inevitable passing away, Wray used her embodied knowledge to illustrate her sense of the music.

Andile Sotiya admits that his solo “Migration” is still a journey. Sotiya though is a powerhouse of intense unwavering focus and brick house physical strength that doesn’t allude to uncertainty. Sotiya embodied knowledge of contemporary dance supports his vocabulary to literally fly through the air and jumps not inches but feet with arms that work just as good as his legs. As the solo progressed though I am led to believe that even though every move is confident, Sotiya is wandering in this landscape, reaching and focusing in every direction. This place is his imaginary Kalahari/Sahara desert and he seems lost with the backdrop, wings and the audience a mirage that does not offer direction.

Brenda Edwards’ “I cry alone. Always” with music by Lady Blacksmith Mamboza was lyrical and pensive, Edwards bending and arching further than is thought humanly possible. Edwards embodied knowledge has a strong ballet leaning but incorporates the polycentric aspects of Africanist movements, her legs doing one thing and arms expressing another. With black tutu and hooded shirt Edwards was the black swan respecting the memory of William Louther and honouring Namron an acknowledged father of dance.

Noel Wallace’s “Xcon Icon” was a theatre work, lights, staging, and movement brought together to make one statement. A huge Frankenstein of a “white” man carries Wallace cradle like from upstage centre to centre stage. This “white” man partners or is it manipulates this “black” man who is feminised by the black slip, a silver bra, and red lipstick. Wallace pokes fun, mimics sexual acts, then seemingly escapes to do his ballet thing while the “white” man stands by. Eventually the “white” man beckons the “black” man and as the two move up stage I imagine “black” man is only allowed to “be” because of “white” man, “black” man is “white” man’s id, the personification of secret yearnings or as willing clay be a siren for dance making.

Zena Edwards accompanied Jane Sekonya choreography “Day 1”. With a beam of intense red light enhancing full body ripples of Sekonya’s torso and Edwards reading, then vocalising, Sekonya transformed into something felt. This was a deep female knowing and feeling, Sekonya’s body waves like a metonym for a secret sensing, the quality of which I could feel in a liminal way of knowing.

Benji Reed pushed an office chair towards a centre special of white light and did, as only Reed can do, his particular body popping and stand up comic skit. You can marvel at his skeletal joint and muscular flexibility then laugh uproariously at his vocal text dissing those folk who use ballet to define the grade, qualify and support monetarily what they believe is dance. Even Reed’s direction to the audience to make the rhythm we clapped sexy by modifying the emphasis of the clap makes Reed an accomplished performer who has spent years perfecting his craft.

There was much experience present in this part of the show, cathartic moments, neurosis, tenuous moments, rage, and sarcasm. For me the whole evening plucked many emotional strings on both sides of the fourth wall. The artists had bits of embarrassment, exaltation, fudged moves, overshooting, and triumphant accompanying occasional mishaps of live theatre. Regardless, each solo illustrated a point, communicated an inspiration, taught through example or explained through caricature. The solo dance has many varied compositions and Hip: 12 + 1 delivered multiple configurations. Witnessing the curves, muscle flex, hearing the music or spoken voice, breathing, height of jump, nuance of gesture tells you the time spent refining, curtailing and augmenting to make a vision come true. I saw the experience, the in-depth study to perfect a particular way to move. The dancer’s instrument is his or her body but in these solos the “person” is the canvass upon which the dance maker draws a dance that personifies instances of living.

<small>[ 12-05-2002, 18:30: Message edited by: THEA NERISSA BARNES ]</small>

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 Post subject: Re: Hip - 2002
PostPosted: Wed Dec 04, 2002 7:57 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 25, 2002 12:01 am
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Location: London/Chicago
Witnessing Hip: 1 + 1

By Thea Nerissa Barnes

I saw Hip: 1 + 1 Wednesday 27 November. It took place at the Robin Howard Dance Theatre. Hip: 1 + 1 occurred as a blackbox with backdrop and no wings but the 2 solo artists offered altered audience relations. Every performer situates the space they perform in and his or her enactment obliges the audience to be spectator or participator. For Tippa 100% & full 100 performed by Fredrick Moncrieffe, the audience seemed prepared to remain fixated but were soon roused to join in. Tippa does this hand gesture above his head that provides the finishing touch for bending knees that mime his whole body bouncing like a ball or dropping inch by inch into some invisible hole in the ground. This is his signature step that on occasion has struggled to teach to others. In the end this move is truly Tippa’s: the result of his particular embodied knowledge. Tippa does Ragga in his own way, Jamaican Dance Hall culture that has sources in 1980’s Reggae sound and rhythms. Yes Africa is in that root but these moves have varied sensibilities that seem American city, streetwise and electronic. The flashing lights and Michael Jackson moves with tick, wave, body-popping and locking flowed in and out of the Jamaican Dance Hall vocabulary. This illustrated Tippa’s stride that is attached to Jamaican shores but touches the varied street dance sensibilities of the African Diaspora. A deliberate walk around the stage to check the backdrop out that says “hip”, then a hat that changes Tippa’s dynamic and encourages a different caricature.

There is also a moment of two coned shafts of light where Tippa’s lip singing describes and indicates an encounter that we are left only to imagine. There is no story to tell here just a sharing of energy. One movement phrase with dance hall sounds after the other is a view to different ideas that Tippa’s bodily narrative exposes for the audience to vivify. Some of the moves are recognised by audience members and Tippa’s energy gets a response complete with gleeful shouts. They too can revel in the exuberance that recognised visceral experiences provide.

Tippa lying on the floor speaks: “Why is it so quiet?” I thought Tippa had sought an opportunity to break the fourth wall but this was only because the music had stopped. Till this point Tippa seemed isolated, gliding then gyrating around and through the space with the audience indicating only bits of reaction. This “theatre” situation distanced us from Tippa’s clear invitation to join in the revelling. Tippa then invited audience members to join in either clapping two different rhythms or moving on stage to steps he demonstrated. Fourth wall broken all in the space shared the energy to move, to shout, feel the textured rhythm, lights and sound, each in her or his way; sitting, swaying, jumping. Afterwards audience back in their seats a younger more spontaneous group of onlookers yelled, arms waving to demonstrate their recognition and alliance with Tippa; I thought this should have been like that from the beginning.

Julie Dossavi born in Benin and working in France is a different performer. Her solo “Go” asked or was it clearly a demand to experience vicariously her visceral recollections. “Go” for me was an autobiographical telling, an inside out perspective of this woman’s consciousness revealing lived experience. For me these were the experiences of exodus that precipitate a challenge to design survival. The movements deliberate, strong, subtle and clear their intricacy like fine hand woven tapestry. I could see the years of labour each thread took, each step yielding a colour, a dynamic in itself and woven so tightly you couldn’t see the transitions.

There was a strong choreographic structure, chosen movement vocabulary, video presentation, and costume design that made strategic use of her physique and skill. Given these deliberate choices, Dossasvi’s moves gave evidence of her embodied knowledge of percussive torso hips moves, darted legs, configured jumps, facial expressions, walking on ¾ foot and sculpted arms. Her arms were silky, punch, wave, and lock, elastic extensions that were a movement vocabulary on their own. Alone the arms spoke of many journeys that with her head accentuated her facial gestures and varied focuses. Every look, head curve and angle was animated. Priestess in the form of bird, dunking water from a pool of light, sitting transfixed or standing steadfast, Dossasvi was a creature discovering a different terrain transforming into night dancer.

A Bob Marley cut backed-up facial expression and physical contortion signifying the troubled fears, anguish and revived resolve that a person lives and conjures when faced with disenfranchisement. Dossasvi moves are a vocabulary so well known to her there is no conscious recall just the delivery of posture, gesture, turn, walk, jump and pulsation. Her’s is a multidimensional bodily narrative expertly performed through a strategy of simply stated vignettes exposing amongst the poly rhythm and poly centric moves androgynous, feminine, pubescent, and neutered postures. Dossasvi took herself and those who recognised her vivid subtleties to a liminal place, a place not nameable but felt.

A shift from set to set is a controlled manoeuvre demonstrating discipline. This kind of discipline loosens that which is embedded in the bone and through the dance is freed to wield its particular significance. Freedom ensues because the idea is so complete it’s manifestation transforms cognition into embodiment. Dossasvi tranced with pedal turns injected with varied shoulder moves and speed that was amplified with light projections that split her upper body from hips. Split in half metaphorically gave me a metonym of remembered senses recalling muted screams drowned with loud music and dancing; dancing to “get back” life, dancing to save my “self”. Her moves took me to a place of remembered fear and hope: leaving home of birth or comfort to find oneself in a place and be ever defining and re-defining identity.

Dossasvi’s dance went on forever wearing some audience members out but her ferocity was relentless and she never faltered. The last posture with arms raised facing upstage, her right figure waving simply said it all for me. Oh that was so familiar; with flashes of my great Aunt Gwen, her mother and all the men and women I have known in my life who are reconstructing and re-defining the status quo and offering alternative perspectives and crafted choices that have helped me know who I am. All I could think was, I hear you, sista!

How do you pack an autobiography into an hour and it is an autobiographical telling of a soul that has journeyed to and from many kinds of “shores”. Migration does funny things to a person’s self and this solo illustrated many years of considerations and nurtured purpose. Illusionary effects were created by video footage of tunnel drives and lights and with music by Hubert Cesarion and DJ Karim & DJ Abel heightened the purpose behind the presentation. Lights that emphasised an environment and dynamic of one image become a stream of red that Dossasvi traversed. Speckled and striped lighting designs on the floor enhanced a mystified location. Is it jungle or cavernous skyscrapers? A bird like creature by an imaginary stream portrayed in the beginning was repeated and enlarged towards the end but this rendition was brittle, somehow fractured and did not have the simple etchings of the first. It reminded me of those plastic dunking birds in the back of taxies and the notion of manufactured concrete tributaries of a city came to mind. These connections made in my mind through the craft of Dossasvi’s movements served as a metonym indicating the transformation of self from pliable innocence to hardened wryness. Jubilation was the choice as the dance took over and with the music loud the solution was a well executed body pop, hip wave lift leg stomp. My own experiences melted with Dossasvi and I as spectator felt the meaning down to my bones.

<small>[ 12-05-2002, 00:56: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

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 Post subject: Re: Hip - 2002
PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2002 12:17 pm 
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Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 2172
Location: London
Hip: 12x1
Friday 29th November, 2002
The Place

My review of the vignettes of dance offered by Brenda Edwards, Producer and Artistic Director of HIP, for the second programme in this year’s “Hip @ the Place,” comes rather late in the day. Yet I wanted to make sure that I had put something down to record the joys of that evening. In part I was prompted by the editorial in this month’s ‘Dance Europe’ which focuses on the lack of black dancers on stage. Although the article centres on ballet, the same issue affects the whole of the dance world. Indeed, the figure cited for contemporary dance where there are more black dancers than for ballet, is that out of 750 applicants for the current school year, 10% were black. So it was good to see a programme - indeed an annual dance event, for that is what HIP has become – celebrating Black British Dance.

Various dance styles are included in the programme and street dance gets equal billing with contemporary dance. The dancers have in common that they are masters of their art. Each piece was brilliantly executed by a fine dancer and each piece of choreography left you with ‘something.’ Just think about the endless pieces of ‘nice’ unmemorable dance that we have all seen over the years. It is refreshing to look forward to the next item on the programme rather than groan at the prospect of more of the same.

Benji Reid sticks out in my mind. His hip-hop street dance brand of dance and drama is so compelling that you just don’t want his view of the world to end. Contorting his rubbery body on the floor so that he looks like an upside down bowl of fruit, he delivers a line that you know you will use one day: “I was so far down I had to reach up to touch the bottom.” Brenda Edwards’ take on the Dying Swan swathed in black chiffon in “I cry alone. Always.” is a perfect subversion of Plisetskaya’s signature piece. Melanie Teall’s breathless rendition of the spiritual poem “The Invitation” is a joyous celebration of life which should make you want to read the poem from cover to cover if you have not done so already. Stewart Arnold’s “Redemption” showed him to be a fine dancer and I am sorry that I have not seen him dance before. He is obviously a mature and evolved dancer and I feel as if I should have seen him before. Alan Miller’s “Physionyx” was set to poetry and music delivered by Zena Edwards and Randolph Matthews with the use of no instruments. Every sound came from the human voice and the timing between the two ‘musicians’ and Miller was seamless. The highlight of my evening was seeing Sheron Wray dance “Portrait of a Moon.” The audience was, as ever, mesmorised by her performance so, even though I have a clear conflict of interest being director of her company, the audience just enjoyed and responded to sheer talent.


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