Prime Impulse was a 45 minute presentation of some of the work the students on the Dance and Performance course at The Arden School of Theatre in Manchester have been working on over the last few months.
We were shown 13 short pieces covering the four main disciplines of ballet, jazz, tap and contemporary. Some of the work had been choreographed by the students themselves and some by their tutors, and the whole thing coordinated and directed by tutor Belinda Grantham.
Twelve of the students performing their work were in the first year, and the remaining four being second years, and ranged in age between 18 and 21; except for one, Emil Horvarth who had taken a ten-year break from dancing and had now joined the course to bring himself back up to standard, and he delighted us with a short extract from Giselle, and with a string of consecutive entrechats, he proved that he still had it!
The variety of performance ranged from an Austin Powers mickey-take with the whole group starting the show, through Expressive, Interpretive and Show Dance to a rather powerful and dramatic finish with the whole company coming back together again dancing The Seven Deadly Sins.
Some dances worked better than others and indeed some dancers were obviously better than others too, but the whole auditorium buzzed with energy and enthusiasm. Possibly because the audience was full of fellow students who screamed and shouted encouragement and whipped and wooed the moment anything even slightly upbeat and sexy was being presented!
My personal favourites were a lovely modern ballet duet called 'My Sister's Keeper', performed beautifully by Megan Pinder and Abigail Fox; a street dance interpretation of Footloose and Flawless; and a really rather nice interpretation of The Mistake Waltz ballet. This required the dancers to be able to deliberately make larger than life mistakes making it look like they are making a mistake by accident in order to create humour. This is certainly not an easy thing to do, and in order to pull this off has to be completely solid in the first place. It really worked well, and was very enjoyable.
I did notice as I was watching a couple of noteworthy individual performances in amongst the ranks, and I would have liked to have named them here... but I will give a brief description, and then maybe someone reading this will be able to help. I have already mentioned Mr. Horvath and the two girl ballet dancers; there was also a young male dancer who impressed me simply by the commitment, energy and power he put into every single step, and I believe his name was Courtney Hung. Further to this there were two girls who appeared in several of the dances, both of whom had light brown hair (?? but stage lighting can be deceptive), one longer than the other, and both seemed to end up front centre at some point in the routines, one of whom was the girl who came up to the boy front centre stage right on the word, "envy" in the final number. Sorry but without any further knowledge of either of you, I cannot name you!
There was one major costume error (?) which really irritated. In one routine, all the dancers wore black except one who wore dark red for no apparent reason since she was not the lead dancer nor did she do anything different from the others! Also, I thought it very bad form to show, as one of the items in the presentation, one individual dancer's showreel. This was not an agency event and had nothing to do with casting directors. This was a public dance show of the students performing LIVE! Totally out of place and completely unfair for all the other dancers who also want to show their showreels too! Keep that for the industry, not for the public!
Without a programme - [even a plain A5 sheet of paper with a typed list of dances and dancers would have sufficed!] - then non-students wishing to watch this performance are at a complete loss as indeed I was; so I had to ask for a little help at the end of the presentation with names of both dances and individual dancers; therefore if any are wrong, I apologise.
Reviewer: Mark Dee
Reviewed: 28th January 2016