Explosive: Dance Consortium Presents Grupo Corpo at the Birmingham Hippodrome

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A truly explosive feast of a show, last night’s Grupo Corpo transported the vibrancy and liveliness of the Brazilian carnival to the darkness of an autumn evening in Birmingham.

Combining fluid, fast-paced dancing with a rich musical tapestry woven from diverse instrumental strands, Part 1 begins slowly before bursting into a series of breathtakingly dynamic set pieces. The South American dance troupe leap across the stage, each dressed in intricately decorated, individually-made suits designed to give the impression of full-body tattoos. All classically trained, their work is a unique, innovative fusion of traditional ballet and the movements of everyday life in Brazil’s urban centres. On Tuesday night, the pounding rhythms of the music soon proved irresistible even to viewers, who struggled to sit still in their seats.

PARABELO3520MIt isn’t all relentless energy, however: the buzz occasionally subsides to make room for more intimate, gentle duets. As the group explained in a post-show Q & A, parts of the performance draw on centuries-old stories of women who lost their men to the sea. The sadness and longing of the stories lend these quieter moments an immediacy and emotional resonance that makes them deeply moving even without the background information. The historical inspiration is also carried through elsewhere, surfacing in the swaying, tidal movements that flow throughout Act I.

In Act II, the brilliant, summery colours give way to a darker, more sombre vibe. Dressed in autumnal greens and browns, the dancers move more thoughtfully and purposefully against an eerie backdrop of expressionless heads. Towards the end, this backdrop is transformed into a collage of faded photographs, evoking all the joy and sadness of a nostalgic look through an old family album. This serves as a background for dance sequences with more modern inspirations, that mark a return to the fast-paced energy and bright colours of Act I.

SEMMIM3054MIn addition to showcasing some fantastic dance and music, the evening also served as a trial for a new project the Hippodrome is embarking upon, with members of the press invited to participate in “Tweet Seating”. Light-shading boxes were distributed, and those taking part were seated in a side section in order to minimise disruption to surrounding audience members. It was really fascinating to read the thoughts and observations of fellow audience members during the show, and you can now read a Storify selection of what people had to say about it. However, it did prove tricky to concentrate on more than one thing at once, and this is probably something that would only work for particular kinds of shows. In a more narrative, dramatic performance, it would be easy to lose the thread of a story by attempting to tweet about it live. Still, it was a fun experiment, and it will definitely be interesting to see where the theatre takes it next!

Find out more about Grupo Corpo and watch the trailer by visiting the Birmingham Hippodrome website, or read about Tweet Seating on the Birmingham Hippodrome blog.

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Coming Up at the International Dance Festival Birmingham 2014

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With the International Dance Festival Birmingham 2014 now over a week underway, there are still plenty more exciting shows to look forward to before the month is through.

After their eagerly anticipated openings last night, both Sylvie Guillem’s 6000 Miles Away and the Aakash Odedra Company’s double bill Murmur & Inked will be returning this evening to the Birmingham Hippodrome, on the main stage and in the Patrick Centre, respectively. Widely hailed as one of the world’s greatest dancers, in 6000 Miles Away, Sylvie Guillem performs William Forsythe’s Rearray and Mats Ek’s Bye, set to Beethoven’s last sonata. Meanwhile, in Murmur and Inked, Aakash Odedra collaborates with choreographer Lewis Major, the Ars Electronica Futurelab and Oliver Award-winner Damien Jalet, to explore themes of dyslexia and the transformation of the body through scarring and tattoos.

Bye, solo choreographed by Mats Ek for Sylvie Guillem 2010

From Thursday through to the weekend, you’ll be able to catch some awe-inspiring acrobatics from groundbreaking Montreal circus company Les 7 Doigts de la Main in Séquence 8 at the Birmingham REP, as well as some impressive work from Birmingham City University’s School of Architecture, which will be displayed in a Millennium Point open exhibition titled All of Birmingham is a Stage.

OOn Friday and Saturday, Company Decalage will present a world premiere double bill of Match & Half Way to the Other Side in the Hippodrome’s Patrick Centre, while outside, Corey Baker Dance will be giving passers-by the chance to experience some traditional Maori Haka dancing in Centenary Square.

Lord of the Flies

Next week’s festivities will kick off on Tuesday with Border Tales from Luca Silvestrini’s Protein, a witty, satirical show blending dance, dialogue and live music, and taking place in the Patrick Centre. From Wednesday, the Hippodrome’s main stage will be taken over by Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures for a chilling yet beautiful dance adaptation of William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies. Finally on Saturday, those a little more strapped for cash can enjoy an array of free, outdoor dance performances at Put Your Foot Down in Spiceall Street, near the Bullring.

There’ll also be lots to see and do during the last week of the festival (more on this soon), including DJs, dancers, workshops and demonstrations and Sadler’s Wells’s Breakin’ Convention, and an exploration of Argentinian tango in Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s M¡longa, both in the Hippodrome theatre.

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For more information on all upcoming shows and to book tickets, visit the IDFB website.