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 Post subject: Cas Public - If you go down to the woods today
PostPosted: Wed Dec 04, 2002 4:22 pm 

Joined: Sun Dec 01, 2002 12:01 am
Posts: 2
Location: London
Dancing a solo, nasty diseases and spiders – just some of the fears that Genevieve, Sonya, Stephan and Pierre shared with us when they went down to the woods on Saturday 9 November. They were performing in Helen Blackburn’s magical and mesmerising dance work for 6 to 12 year olds at The Robin Howard Theatre in London.

Blackburn’s first foray into dance for a young audience appealed to both adults and children alike by emphasising that we shouldn’t shy away from our fears, but work to face up to them.

One of the keys to the success of ‘If you go down to the woods today’ was the audience’s inclusion in the choreographic exploration. The performance began with Sonya explaining to the children how the dance had developed from gestures representing the dancers’ fears, and finished with a question and answer session for the children to probe further.

We even got the chance to learn one of the sequences from our seats. As the performance unfolded we were able to recognise the movements, which the children could use as a springboard for their imaginations.

Blackburn had used her daughter’s own thoughts and emotions as a very honest source of inspiration. This engendered a warm spirit of openness within the piece and between dancers and audience.

Blackburn chose not to use the narrative so often favoured in children’s dance performances. So, we were told that the choreography would be something like a dream sequence, a collage of movement and spoken word rather than a step by step story. And then off we went to the woods and beyond….

The paper confetti, which formed the forest floor, flew into many guises in the next hour, as did the dancers. Their clean moves and fluid limbs tickled, teased and taunted each other to a lively and almost surreal sound track of Paganini interjected with Abba. Slick and speedy pas de deux, a hallmark of Blackburn’s adult choreography, featured alongside other devices, including tricksy quartets of a more contemporary ilk.

We were also treated to the dancers own bilingual ruminations on their varying plights. These were particularly humourous, and well delivered by the performers, who showed themselves to be strong verbal, as well as kinesthetic, communicators.

It was unfortunate that more families were not there to experience and contribute to the event, despite the fact that the Robin Howard Theatre had worked hard to make it accessible by running pre-performance workshops for the children and for younger siblings during the performance.

I would highly recommend Blackburn’s work to any parent wanting to introduce their children to contemporary dance in an accessible way. If you go down to the woods today you’re in for a great surprise!

 Post subject: Re: Cas Public - If you go down to the woods today
PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2002 5:12 am 

Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 19616
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Kerry, it sounds like a fine experience and many, many thanks for telling us about it. Welcome to Criticaldance and I look forward to hearing more about your visits to dance events in the weeks and months ahead.

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