Tap Factory 

On Friday evening my SO, his sister and I went to see Tap Factory at the Watford Colosseum! There were loads of young dancers in the audience eagerly awaiting the start.

The show was not what I expected at all! All the dialogue was in that kind of mime speak (think Tony Hart’s plasticine figure Morph, if you used to watch that), coupled with exaggerated facial expressions and physicality that made it so funny and captivating.

The setting was an industrial chemical factory, with scaffolding, ladders and oil drums, which served as just some of the percussive instruments. The guys (the workers) were wearing overalls and the boss and supervisor wore army camouflage trousers – the star of the show was a comedic little guy (Small Joe) who arrived late for the first day of work and had to prove himself amongst the others and their strength and masculinity.

The show was a mixture of amazing tap dance, incredible acrobatics (from a very smooth smiley guy who popped up every now and then), contemporary, break and street dance, flute playing, singing, and some audience participation with some call-and-response clapping…There was so much variety! My SO said it reminded him of Stomp if you’ve ever seen that show.

A great night out!

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42nd Street 

Last night a dance friend and I went to watch 42nd Street at the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden’s Drury Lane, which I believe is the West End’s largest stage. On arrival we just HAD to take a photo opportunity with the chorus girls before going into the theatre! We originally had tickets for the upper circle, but we were *upgraded* to the grand circle a tier below where we got an amazing view of the entire stage! I don’t know if this is because the theatre wasn’t full or because of the heatwave (those old theatres can be saunas), but heat rises, and they seemed to have some sort of of aircon going where we were, thankfully.

Programme

The show was absolutely amazing! The sets were brilliant, the costumes captured the 1930s Hollywood golden age and I loved the chorus girls’ colourful tap shoes! The songs were great, with a few you would recognise (such as We’re in the money, and Keep young and beautiful) but the choreography and dance was spectacular! Of course I was watching the Tap Dance from a tap student’s perspective where you are trying to recognise steps…  and it was just amazing how talented these people are! Of course they’ve been tapping since they could walk, so there’s no point comparing starting to learn as an adult!

I was also keen to see the show because a couple of dancers who were involved with the Brighton Tap Festival last year are in it (plus I also spotted the sister of a former school friend in the programme).

My verdict: A visual spectacular! If you love musicals, dance, the Hollywood golden age or just want a great night out, go and see it!

Alvin Ailey UK Tour 2016

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On Saturday I went to see a matinee of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater UK Tour at Sadler’s Wells (the home of dance!) in London. To save faffing about changing tube lines from Marylebone, we caught the 205 bus directly outside Marylebone Station all the way to Angel! Easy peasy.

I’ve only seen them once before when they were last in London, at Sadler’s Wells in 2010, so I was really excited to see the show. I went for Programme C, more for the timings than for the particular pieces, because all the programmes contained Revelations, Ailey’s fantastic signature piece, of which I have the soundtrack.

(Programme C: LIFT / Awakening / Cry / Revelations)

We were up in the Second Circle, but still had an excellent view, compared to when I’ve been to watch shows in some of the very old theatres (e.g Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre, starring at the scaffolding)!

LIFT was a fantastic, African-inspired varied piece, with lots of musculature. Lively moments and reflective moments.

Awakening woke me out of my stupor. It very futuristic in the way that it balanced “chaos and resolution”. Loud, jolty music, jolty dancing in white outfits. I won’t say I enjoyed that piece particularly, but it was very avant garde, interesting and unpredictable.

Cry was choreographed by Alvin Ailey himself for his mother, and I felt it captured the mother’s spirit perfectly. Wonderful, colourful dancing.

Revelations is my favourite, and clearly everyone else’s favourite too, as the audience applause was deafening! I love the songs, the dances and the setting of the Deep South, God-fearing church-going, ladies in hats waving fans, men in suits days. Fabulous!

 

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Image courtesy of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater