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Review: VERVE by Northern School of Contemporary Dance at Rhodes

Shutdown by Noa Zuk and Ohad Fishof.Picture by Nicole Guarino (10517473)
Shutdown by Noa Zuk and Ohad Fishof.Picture by Nicole Guarino (10517473)

Not for the first time, I’m sitting in a nearly empty Rhodes theatre, watching a mesmerisingly beautiful show – in this case VERVE, a collection of four pieces from the MA performers at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance – and wondering why it’s not better attended.

Surely there are more than 15 of us in Stortford who appreciate finding sparkling gems amid the cultural wasteland of locally available options?

The hypnotic first work of the night – The Sea Tells A Story, set to songs by Douglas Dare (Spotify him, you won’t regret it) – created a magical atmosphere and drew me in instantly. I loved the moments of silence where all we heard was the swishing of the dancers’ fluid costumes.

My nine-year-old daughter was especially taken with work 3, Team V’s light-hearted exploration of the voice and body, which pushed boundaries by combining contemporary dance with comedy, vocal performance and a quite unexpected finale.

The second and fourth works were provocative and complex, sparking lots of conversation between my companion and me about what we’d seen, what we liked and what we didn’t... wewent home zinging with energy and woken-up brains.

The saddest thing about the sparse audience is the fact that the foyer, when I arrived, was full of dance mums awaiting their kids to exit their lessons. So WHY wasn’t this gorgeous show sold out with trips organised by our many local dance schools for all the budding Darceys to see and be inspired by some ACTUAL modern dance?

Sure, parts of it were dark, edgy and challenging, but, seriously, don’t you hummus mums long to occasionally chuck off your Boden pumps, to break out of the stultifying bubble of school fetes and vapid Prosecco-based charity fashion shows and quiz nights and lose yourself instead in the muscle and sinew of strong, skilful dancers?

To remember what it feels like to sweat, then go home and f*** your husband like you used to before you got sucked into the middle-class vortex of criticising your cleaning lady and whining about parking?

Dance isn’t about extortionately priced leotards and overdone little girls in lipstick competing over their shuffle ball changes – it’s moving, it’s playful, it’s sexy, thought-provoking, stirring, liberating.

You don’t need to know anything about dance to love it, that’s the beauty of it – dance is communication, expression, life.

Dance is raw, visceral connection – and God knows we can all use a bit more of that in our lives.

by Polly Bloom

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