Review - Ignition Dance Festival by Tia Asterope

The fourth Ignition Dance Festival, a collaboration between DanceWest and the Royal Borough of Kingston, was a successful celebration of talent and vision.Eight choreographers created seven short works that explore a variety of ideas and themes through dance. 

Tim Casson's playful They Dance is the perfect beginning for a contemporary dance festival. He and Chloe Mead tilt, spiral and hit their foreheads with their hands ‘like they did a terrible mistake’, as professional audio describer Alice Sanders explains. Casson and his friends use wry humour to engage us with the issues that can arise when dance is translated into words and vice versa. As a solidly joyful perception on how difficult - if not impossible - it is to dance what you say and say what you dance, They Dance prompts the thought that maybe we don't have to explain everything we see onstage but instead just surrender to it. 

The kathak-trained choreographer Urja Desai Thakore delves into the Unbearable Intolerance Of Being, performing along with Parbati Chaudhry, Shyam Dattani and Sonia Chanderia-Tilu. The intense encounters between this dynamic quartet drag the fragile threads of human relationships to the edge. Thakore in particular captivated me with a magnetic solo stretching invisible intolerance to a breaking point between her hands. In the end, the cast unites as a human nucleus bonded by both patterns of commonality and difference. At the very end, we could hear a tentative rhythm flowing out of their voices as they exited, possibly lost in a pitch-black darkness.

Dane Hurst collaborated with the composer Anna Appleby to create the trio Citizens. The lyrical pyrotechnics of Appleby's sound score cum opera Citizens of Nowhere embraces every moment of this tautly and expressively choreographed piece which abounds with sometimes emphatic yet often conflicted partnerships. Ryan Taylor, Zunnur Sazali and Eleanor Stephenson thrilled me with their skilful performances, striving for identity, belonging and fellowship but all too often blocking each other's attempts to achieve this. With admirably ethereal artistry they teetered between drama and romance, suffocation and freedom. 

In The Tainted Hero Maria Yacoob dives into Greek mythology, and specifically the tasks of Heracles, in a fresh and invigorating manner. Paaliba Abugre's electric virtuosity in the title role is more than effective. With twirls, judders and sky-high jumps, he tries to capture the tortured psyche of an epic hero. Videography and choreography blend as we see Heracles run for his life, climb mountains, swim deep and do battle with the obstacles placed in his way by the cruel and bored goddess Hera (Celia Francis) who nevertheless enjoys herself making Heracles' path as hard as she can. His misadventures unfold in a seductive theatrical atmosphere.

In Queen Have & Miss Haven't Eleanor Perry & Daniel Hay-Gordon, aka Thick & Tight, frame in a ridiculously funny way the roles of Queen Victoria and Miss Haversham. These two iconic figures share an extravagant and immoderate yearning for love. Garishly made up to look like their particular personas and both wearing hoop skirts (black and white respectively), Perry and Hay-Gordon employ detailed and hilarious movement to radiate horror and tenderness at the same time. Their sharp-gestured choreography is perfectly paired with Messiaen's glorious score. Radical, sensitive and surely ahead of its time. 

After several years' hiatus Henri Oguike is back on the dance scene with The Middle Way. Aurore Vigneron, Caitlin Taylor, Isabel Alvarez and Oliver Chapman are the moving pawns within his choreographic game, yet as it unspools they each win a life of their own. These fine dancers glide and writhe, forming multiple patterns and fluctuating the piece's tempo as they take us and themselves on a journey with no clearly-defined destination. 

Speaking of the unknown, what if you lived in a secondary solar system? Even more than that, what if you danced in it? Holly Noble's Trappist 1 traverses through the universe via space-fantasy costumes and video footage mainly culled from popular culture and newsreels. As the human embodiment of planets, Richard Bermange, Ashley Morgan-Davies and Casey Nokomis reconnoitre not only an undiscovered dwarf star but the audience too, balancing between deconstructed ballet movement and an implied intimacy with us who are watching them.

Ignition Dance Festival was a victorious showcase of highly varied and charismatic choreography.  If you missed it indoors at the Rose Theatre, Kingston there is still a chance to see these dances presented outside at the Lyric Hammersmith Plaza.

Ignition Dance Festival 2017 Gigi Giannella

Past events - Dance in the Square - Monday 26  - Wednesday 28 June (13.00 & 17.00) 

Watch highlights and snippets of the choreographers work for Dance in the Square a festival curated by DanceWest. 

Lyric Square, King Street W6 0QL (Free) 

Monday 26 June

  • Maria Yacoob
  • Urja Desai Thakore
  • Tim Casson 

Tuesday 27 June

  • Dane Hurst 
  • Holly Noble

Wednesday 28 June

  • Thick & Tight
  • Henri Oguike

Past events - Choreographers platform - Friday 16 June (19.30-21.30) 

Now in its fourth year, Ignition is West London's Dance Festival. The Choreographers Platform on June 16th features imaginative new work commissioned by the festival from seven outstanding artists. Watch Kathak, Contemporary, Neo-classical and Dance-Theatre. 



Ignition Dance Festival - Choreographers Announced

Now in its fourth year the festival supports community dancers, emerging artists and mid-career choreographers to create new choreography. After a nation-wide search and an overwhelming 725 applications, DanceWest is delighted to announce the seven recipients of prestigious bursaries to mid-career choreographers. The line-up includes artists from a Kathak, Contemporary, Neo-classical and Dance-Theatre background producing new work for the same stage. Ignition 2017 demonstrates the extraordinary breadth, depth and diversity working in the UK today and the appetite for the festival. 

Maria Yacoob (Solo): a choreographer based at London’s Pineapple Studios. She loves creating emotive, passionate dance with a strong narrative drive. She works across opera, musical theatre, contemporary dance, cabaret and film/television.




Eleanor Perry & Daniel Hay Gordon (Duet): Thick & Tight are a British based dance theatre duo who create avant-garde cabaret style shows using contemporary dance, literature, a diverse range of music, lip syncing and drama to present characters who collide on the dance floor.




Dane Hurst (Trio): Dane has travelled internationally performing with Rambert, Phoenix Dance Theatre and Company Wayne McGregor. In 2013 he was nominated for Outstanding Modern Performance and in 2014 received the Best Male Dancer of the Year award by the Critic's Circle National Dance Awards, U.K. Dane has received commissions from The Place Prize, Stuttgart International Solo Dance Theatre Competition, Barbican, RichMix, Wilton's Music Hall, Dulwich Picture Gallery.


Tim Casson (Trio): Casson & Friends make accessible interactive dance work that engages audiences in innovative, joyful, and meaningful ways. They bring together diverse collaborators including composers, computer programmers, and often the public. Our work strives to be accessible to everyone, celebrating the creativity within us all, and helping people to feel part of something bigger.


Holly Noble (Trio): Holly works as an independent choreographer undertaking commissioned work and projectswith people such as English National Ballet, Glastonbury Festival, The V&A, Sadler’s Wells, Northern Contemporary Dance School and Company Wayne McGregor.




Urja Desai Thakore (Quartet): Urja is the UK’s leading Kathak dancer and choreographer. Her energetic choreographic style is highly regarded by both traditionalists and contemporary audience.





Henri Oguike (Group): Henri has been dubbed as one of the most musical choreographers of his generation. Oguike has been commissioned to make pieces for Phoenix Dance Theatre, Holland Dance Festival, Southbank Centre, Ballet Black and Rambert. Henri has now relaunched himself as a freelance artist recent projects included a new creation for Scottish Dance Theatre and a unique collaboration with Orchestra Of The Age of Enlightenment.




Ignition Dance Festival - News

Read more about the festival line up in London Live, The Stage and London Dance! More here




Ignition Dance Festival 2017 photos by Gigi Ginnaella 

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