Yet another successful performance by students at The Arden. This time it was the turn of first years on the BA (Hons) Dance And Performance programme who took the spotlight. This 50 minute 'showcase' entitled, 'Not Another News Story' was co-ordinated and directed by Belinda Grantham with choreographies from tutors Craig Bennett, Megan Elliott, Ben Manuel, Hannah Thompson, Sina Williams, and Tomas Simon.

It started extremely well. A bare stage with 4 blackboard flats to the sides, and an upbeat and easy-to-watch dance - all about news and using newspaper - enfolded using all ten of the show's performers. It was 'No bad News' from, 'The Wiz'. 

This then segued into a truly lovely idea, which, for want of a better phrase, I shall call comedy mirror dancing. The idea was excellent, I just found both pairs a little under-rehearsed as the complicity and timing were not as together as they should have been.

There then followed, starting with 'In The Mood' a long section which was a massive cri-du-coeur for female equality, and not to be recognised simply as objects of sex. A need to be respected, loved, and treated equally, regardless of body shape, make-up or liposuction!  It was well done, if not a little over done. Sitting alone, a middle-aged male, who had never thought of himself as being anything other than emancipated and pro-feminist, I was still feeling a little awkward here.

In the midst of all this, The Moonlight Sonata took us to another very dark and serious avenue. And as the song started, 'I Died In A Car Crash Two Days Ago' this was interpreted and danced in front of us. sadly the spoken words by the cast were not loud enough to carry to the back of the auditorium where I was seated, and so missed some of what was being said, but was able to glean the majority. Either the music should have been turned lower for the voice to penetrate, or the performers needed to project more.

There was more very dark and emotive dancing with these four blackboard / flats being put imaginative and excellent use, whilst this very bleak section came to an end with a single girl stomping repetitively, almost ritualistically unaccompanied. The image was indeed powerful at this point. Bringing the music back in towards the end, for me, spoilt and diminished its power.

But of course, they couldn't finish there, and so the final section, again, quite long and varied, was a joyous hip-hop, street, freestyle mega-mix, which, since majority of the audience this afternoon were fellow students, gained the most applause and reaction.

Advertising this as 'a variety show', seems somehow wrong. Majority of the content was too serious and too contentious, and using such a title suggests frivolity and laughter. However, it was extremely well presented and the 10 young dancer / performers deserve to be praised highly for their achievements. They were; Reece Bates, Danica Durr, Emily Griffin, Georgia Mills, Rachel Myler, Yandass Ndlovu, Molly Kavanagh, Samantha Martin, Daisy Pitchers, and Megan Reed.

Reviewer: Mark Dee

Reviewed: 11th May 2017