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 Post subject: The Place Prize 2006
PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2006 10:46 am 
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Reviews of the Place Prize Previews from 5 & 7 September on Londondance.com

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The Place Prize is the dance equivalent of the Mercury Music Prize: credible, sexy and focusing only on the creative product; “the music on the album” or, in this case, the new choreographic work. Anyone choreographer can apply for this competition by video entry and twenty semi finalists are selected by an international panel of experts.

The Place Prize kicks the Mercury into touch, though, as it invests, courtesy of sponsors Bloomberg, £5000 in each of the semi-finalists so there’s a level playing field from which to create the competitive pieces. Additionally, they have access to studio time, the benefit of the Place Theatre’s top notch stage crew and the performance platform of the Place itself.

The previews give the artists a chance to air their works before judging proper begins with the opportunity to tweak pieces in the light of experience. Equally the stage crew get a dry run at tackling the diverse sets and lighting designs required by the five disparate works (no mean feat). There’s no doubt that the semi-finals will provide diverse, challenging and entertaining programmes, not to mention fierce competition in this egalitarian and intensely exciting choreographic prize. Just a snapshot of the previews gives a sense of how creativity flourishes in such an inspiring and professional environment.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 3:23 am 
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The Place Prize 2006 Semi-Final, The Place, London
by ZOE ANDERSON for the Independent

This semi-final offered impressive dancing standards. All performers moved well, and distinctively, and there were some promising dances here. The competition has generated a buzz, and spectators can influence the prize, as one of the five finalists will be selected by audience vote.

published: September 15, 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 5:05 am 
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Press release:

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Five Finalists for The Place Prize for Dance 2006 Unveiled

· Stunning choreographic talent, with a range of traditions including integrated, classical Asian and conceptual dance forms

· Choreographers from a diverse range of backgrounds, from Italy, to India and to Ghana

· Contributors include Anthony Minghella and leading Indian musician Y Yadavan

· Covers contemporary subjects as diverse as flat pack furniture, the pace of today's business world and the quest for the body beautiful

www.theplaceprize.com

The five choreographers selected to go through to the final stages of Europe's largest and most prestigious choreography prize, The Place Prize for Dance, sponsored by Bloomberg, are revealed today. Jonathan Lunn, Freddie Opoku Addaie, Nina Rajarani, Luca Silvestrini and Lucy Suggate will each go forward to compete for the £25,000 prize.

The biennial Place Prize was created by The Place in 2004, and takes place for the second time in 2006. The Place is the UK's premier centre for contemporary dance, uniting training, creation and performance in one unique building. Over 500 dance works are made in Britain every year, which are not always particularly visible to the general public. By creating 20 new works, all with a life-span beyond the prize itself, The Place Prize aims to bring new choreographic talent in the UK the recognition it deserves.

The judging panel for The Place Prize is chaired by John Ashford, Theatre Director of The Place, and comprises Robyn Archer, performance artist and festival director; Guy Cools, dance dramaturg and producer; Brian Eno, musician, producer, artist and author; Rose Fenton, independent arts producer and co-founder of LIFT; and Chris Ofili, artist.

In May 2006, twenty of the hottest contemporary choreographers working in dance today were selected to compete for The Place Prize. Their works have been performed to packed audiences and the judging panel throughout September at The Place in London.

The Place Prize finalists were selected by an unusual combination of audience participation and judging panel expertise. The semi-finals took place between Wednesday 13 and Saturday 16 September. Over these four days, each of the 20 pieces were performed only once ? just one chance to impress the audience and the panel. The judges selected four works to go through to the finals and the best piece as voted for by the audience brought the total number of finalists to five.

The competition's five outstanding pieces will be performed together in a mixed bill of the finest new British choreography. These final performances take place between Wednesday 20 September and Saturday 30 September. Each night, the audience will choose its favourite piece, with the winner that night winning a £1000 prize. After the final performance on the Saturday night, the judges will announce the winner of the £25,000 Place Prize, sponsored by Bloomberg.

"The judges were unanimous in their decisions. We were all impressed with the high standard of dancing and production throughout." Comments John Ashford, Chair of the Judges and Theatre Director of The Place.

About the five semi-finalists:

Jonathan Lunn Self Assembly

Danced to a script by Anthony Minghella, a witty duet about how to make a relationship work, following flat pack instructions.

Judges comment: "A jewelled mechanism, its perfection relying on the pieces never quite fitting together."

Lunn, 51, has been nominated for the Olivier Awards twice. He was a dancer and choreographer with London Contemporary Dance Theatre, and has had a successful career working in dance and opera.

Freddie Opoku Addaie Silence Speaks Volumes

Five dancers using movement to convey what words cannot. An incredibly eclectic cast, including dancers from Italy, Ghana and Korea, bring a mix of styles and influences to the piece.

Judges comment: "An awkward originality and determined ambiguity surprised us into wanting to see the piece again."

Freddie, 26, is formerly a member of The Place's youth dance company Shift and a graduate of the London Contemporary Dance School. He is an emerging choreographic talent, whose work was last seen at The Place?s White Christmas season. Born in London, he spent many of his formative years in Ghana.

Nina Rajarani, QUICK!

Dancers and musicians in business dress convey the hurly burly of modern commerce using the classical Indian form Bharatanatyam.

Judges comment: "A work of unstoppable energy that places Bharatanatyam firmly in the world of London business."

Thirty-six-year-old Nina Rajarani is one of the UK's most accomplished Bharatanatyam artists, who combines touring with her company Shristi with teaching classical Indian dance in Southern England.

Luca Silvestrini B for Body

This finalist was selected by the audience, with an average "star" rating of 3.98 (out of five), the highest of the 20 pieces presented

A satire of gym culture, in which a woman struggles to live up to the ideal of perfection embodied by two physically perfect men, who dance the piece with her.

Judges comment: "We fully endorse the audience's choice. Very good choreography disguised by humour."

Luca (39) is Artistic Director of Protein Dance. He is holder of the World Record for the largest dance class ever, with 8,000 people having taken part in his class for Big Dance in July 2006.

Lucy Suggate Postcard

Explores the differences of the experience of going on a day trip to the seaside for an able-bodied couple and a man without legs.

Judges comment: "Carefully layered material, donkeys, pink Lycra and white fun-fur offer some answers to the questions that are usually silent."

Twenty-eight-year-old Lucy Suggate is based in Leeds and is building a body of political and humourous work around issues of disability.


Listings Information:

The Place: Robin Howard Dance Theatre,

17 Duke's Road, London WC1H 9PY

Finals 20-30 September 2006 (not Sunday 24)

All performances are at 8pm

Box office: 020 7121 1100

Book online: www.theplaceprize.com

Tickets: £5 - £15 (no booking fee)

Nearest tube: Euston


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2006 4:25 am 
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My review of the Place Prize finals from Weds 27 September. Originally written for londondance.com:

The Place Prize Final has shaped up to be a genuinely exciting and diverse programme of dance. All the work resonates with relevance to contemporary life. The pieces tackle, respectively: the collision of classical traditions with urban city life, our love affair with flat pack furniture and the trials of modern relationships, disability, sex and discrimination, the power of non-verbal communication and our preoccupation with the pursuit of the perfect body. It’s a treat of a programme spanning different styles and approaches and an ideal introduction to contemporary dance. There’s no doubt about it: The Place Prize is cool.

Quick by Nina Rajarani

Twenty four hours in the working life of four Asian city boys is superbly portrayed in this wholly integrated piece comprising dance, film and live music. Rajarani sets the expressiveness, intricacy and energy of traditional Bharata Natyam in opposition to the blank face of urban commuter office life. Both dancers and band participate in this energetic and entertaining performance that travels through the working day from the journey into work, to battles round the boardroom table, to late night drinking and ultimate collapse before the whole cycle begins again. Quick leaves you beaming because it dazzles but it lacks depth. There’s no attempt to explore anything serious beneath the frenetic surface and I think this may stop Rajarani from running away with the prize come the weekend.

Self Assembly by Jonathan Lunn
This duet lays bare the perils of modern relationships likening them to the hazards of constructing flat pack furniture. Lunn’s dancers interpret the wonderfully deadpan instructive voiceover of Anthony Minghella in alternately interlocking and repulsive movements. The piece explores the emotional dynamic between the two dancers, cleverly boxed in by careful lighting design. The choreographic style is fluid and although the dancers have different ways of moving (the emphasis here being that people are different and must work at being ‘together’) they chime together and collide, enacting both desire and its malfunction. It ends suitably unresolved. This is an entirely pleasant and well thought out piece but it fails to challenge or say anything new or different. This piece won the audience vote tonight but I don’t think it’s got the originality or impact to cut it on Saturday.

Postcard by Lucy Suggate
There’s something very moving about POSTCARD although ultimately I was left wondering what. It’s a piece that deals directly with attitudes to disability both through a humorous talking head film and the use of dancer, James O’Shea, a double amputee. The choreographer creates a great deal of sexual tension between her cast, stripped down to suggestive bright pink catsuits, in all possible permutations and not shying away from simulations of sex. Suggate’s writhing choreography for the three on a white fur rug was beautiful. The performance is strong, funny, poignant and interesting yet the seaside postcard theme seems fairly arbitrary and peripheral to the heart of this piece but I couldn’t tell you what it is.

Silence Speaks Volumes by Freddie Opoku Addaie
This piece has transformed since it was first performed in the previews. Back then, I was interested and impressed with parts, yet it didn’t seem to hang together as a complete work. Tonight, however, Silence Speaks Volumes was seamless. The choreographic style, mixing lyrical contemporary dance, Capoeira, body popping, sheer athleticism and delicate, subtle motifs came across as truly innovative. The muted screams of the disparate cast of five are incredibly effective and underscore the theme of communication and silence that travels through the choreography. Addaie has created a genuinely new and distinctive dance work with a relevant, urban, multicultural sensibility. His vision has come into its own, just in time.

B for Body by Luca Silvestrini
Silvestrini’s pair of homoerotic gym instructors could have stepped straight out of a Hitler Youth propaganda video; all firm six-packs, white shorts and manly wrestling over a massage table. B for Body is funny and terrifying. A neurotic woman, dressed only in black knickers, faces up to her deepest fears about her body and puts herself in the hands of the Adonis-like pair, allowing them to exercise, manipulate and pulverise her, ultimately sending her under the cosmetic surgeon’s knife in order to attain to the received ideal of physical perfection. This is a well performed and cleverly observed piece of dramatic dance theatre that addresses a very real societal obsession but its dependence on the powerful comedic performance of Sally Marie as the unfortunate woman at the heart of the story detracts, for me, from the choreography itself. The piece depends on humour more than dance.

Tonight the sponsors were in and the vocal enthusiasm of the audience was energising. The Place’s electronic voting system worked a treat and it was great to see a real spread of support across all the pieces at the end of the night. Jonathan Lunn walked away with tonight’s cash prize of £1000 but in my book, it’s Freddie Opoku Addaie you need to watch out for come Saturday.

More here


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2006 4:46 am 
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Quote:
The Place prize finals
by JUDITH MACKRELL for the Guardian
published: September 26, 2006

The nicest surprise is Nina Rajarani's QUICK!, in which four guys in city clothes dance the most testosterone-infused bharatanatyam I have seen.
more...


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Quote:
The Place Prize
by DEBRA CRAINE for the Times
published: September 27, 2006

There’s no doubt in my mind who deserves the big prize. Nina Rajarani, who runs her own company Srishti, is competing with Quick!, a terrific piece for four men in shirts and ties who strut about like peacocks in the workplace.
more...


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2006 4:53 am 
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Nina Rajarani wins The Place Prize 2006


The Place is delighted to announce that Nina Rajarani has won The Place Prize for Dance 2006. The £25,000 Prize, initiated in 2004 and sponsored by Bloomberg, is Europe’s most prestigious award for choreography.

Nina Rajarani, from London, was presented with a cheque for £25,000 by 2004 Place Prize winner Rafael Bonachela. She also received a specially commissioned bowl designed by contemporary glassmakers Bi-Me.

Rajarani was one of 20 choreographers commissioned to make an original 15 minute work for the competition. These works were viewed by audiences and the panel of judges who produced a list of five finalists from which Nina’s work, entitled QUICK!, was selected as the overall Prize winner.

The panel of judges included Brian Eno and Chris Ofili. The judges said,

“This work of unstoppable energy places Bharatanatyam firmly in the world of London business. A dance work with something new to say about how the world is today, it is a clear winner of The Place Prize 2006.”

The other four finalists were Jonathan Lunn, Freddie Opoku Addaie, Luca Silvestrini and Lucy Suggate.

Uniquely amongst major arts prizes, the audiences at semi final and final performances at The Place had the chance to vote for an audience favourite. The choreographer of the favourite piece each night of the final performances received £1,000. Rajarani won this accolade five times during the ten performances of the finals. The audience vote was also won by fellow finalists Jonathan Lunn (on two occasions) Freddie Opoku Addaie (on two occasions) and Luca Silvestrini (on one occasion).

The biennial Place Prize was created by The Place in 2004. The Place is the UK’s premier centre for contemporary dance, uniting training, creation and performance in one unique building. Over 500 dance works are made in Britain every year, which are not always particularly visible to the general public. By creating 20 new works, all with a life-span beyond the prize itself, The Place Prize aims to bring new choreographic talent in the UK the recognition it deserves.

The judging panel for The Place Prize 2006 was chaired by John Ashford, Theatre Director of The Place, and comprised Robyn Archer, performance artist and festival director; Guy Cools, dance dramaturg and producer; Brian Eno, musician, producer, artist and author; Rose Fenton, independent arts producer and co-founder of LIFT; and Chris Ofili, artist.

In Rajarani’s Prize-winning piece, QUICK!, four male dancers and four musicians in business dress convey the hurly burly of modern life in London using the classical Indian dance form Bharatanatyam.

Nina Rajarani – background

36 year-old Nina Rajarani is one of the UK’s most accomplished Bharatanatyam artists, who combines touring with her company Srishti with teaching classical Indian dance in Southern England. She has toured across the UK, Europe, India, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia. Her company Srishti is regularly funded by Arts Council England and international organisations including the British Council. Nina has strong commitment to education work and runs successful schools in Harrow, Reading and Warwick.


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