New York manufacturer of fine dance apparel for women and girls.
Click here to see a sample of our products and a
list of web sites for purchasing.
With Body Wrappers it's always performance at its best.
Go back to Flash Reviews
Review 2, 9-30: One Big Umbrella
Dance Umbrella Turns Silver, with a Little Help from its Friends
By Josephine Leask
Copyright 2003 Josephine Leask
LONDON -- Dance Umbrella
celebrated its 25th anniversary Sunday with a glamorous gala at
Sadler's Wells, one of London's oldest dance venues. Started by
the heroic yet humble Val Bourne, who is remarkably still its artistic
director, this autumn contemporary dance festival has grown and
flourished in both companies and audiences. Dance Umbrella boasts
the work of (now) prestigious national and international companies
who have been nurtured over the years by Bourne herself, who treats
her artists like cherished family. As it was movingly pointed out
during the gala by choreographer Richard Alston, who performed in
the first Dance Umbrella, Bourne has always loved dance, has always
programmed only what she really loves and only what she thinks an
audience will love. And, he hastened to add, she has usually got
The gala aimed to represent
the spirit of DU with short pieces from nine choreographers: Alston,
Trisha Brown, Wayne McGregor, Bill T. Jones, Charles Moulton, Mark
Morris, Siobhan Davies, Shobana Jeyasingh, Matthew Bourne and William
Tuckett. The odd one out was definitely Tuckett, who is a principal
character artist of the Royal Ballet, but then again the evening
saw a large embracing of the ballet world with dancers from the
newly refurbished Scottish Ballet, English National Ballet, and
the Royal. This for me was less a reflection on the eclectic spirit
of Dance Umbrella than of the recent craze of contemporary choreographers
being invited in by ballet companies to make work for them. Personally,
I don't think this work looks good, particularly that of McGregor;
on classically trained dancers, his interesting sharp angular style
is reduced to a virtuosic display of high leg extensions and pointe
work. I also fear that this ballet bug will just morph individual
contemporary styles into ballet.
Luckily, the work of
artists such as Brown in "If You Couldn't See Me," Morris in "Serenade"
and Jones in "Ionization" restored my faith in the future of the
festival, as did the comical brilliant ball passing in Moulton's
"Nine Person Precision Ball Passing." Charisma, wit and a sense
of history abounded in each.
Special highlights for
me included Davies's "The Swan," a solo for a male dancer and a
duet performed to a gripping piece of text by Caryl Churchill ("She
Bit Her Tongue"), and McGregor's solo and world premiere "Xenathra."
Davies's work is just so unpretentiously beautiful and honest, particularly
in Sunday night's context, and McGregor's work always looks fascinating
when performed by himself. His way of moving is so alien and cyborgian
that he seems to extend the parameters of what is possible in contemporary
The curtain fell amidst
shrieks of laughter on the camp comedy "Spitfire" by Matthew Bourne,
a piece for six strapping men in their underpants based on underwear
advertising, which had been lovingly reconstructed from the far
and distant past.
Behind the silver balloons
and the clinking wine glasses you could sense the nostalgia for
a time when contemporary dance really seemed way out.
But while the evening
was not without its disappointments, what came over clearly was
a deep respect and admiration from both audience and artists for
Val Bourne and what she has done for dance.
Dance Umbrella continues
through November 8.
Go back to Flash Reviews