Saturday, April 26, 2014

HeadSpaceDance and London

Moira and I have just returned from a couple of days in London. Maybe it’s our age, but, these days, all our trips to the capital seem to involve overnight stays – we fit in a lot of activities, but at a pretty gentle pace!
The main reason for our visit was to see a performance by HeadSpaceDance (“If Play Is Play”) in the Linbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera House on Thursday evening - the final night of its run. One of the HeadSpaceDance directors, Charlie Broom, is the wife of actor Sam Alexander… who is a long-standing friend of our daughter Hannah and son-in-law, Felix (they were part of the wonderful Thame Youth Theatre back in their teens!)… hope you’re following all this?!
Anyway, back to the dancing…
Although I love live performance, I think I’ve only seen two or three professional dance performances in my life. However, I HAD seen some impressive video footage of some of their earlier productions and so had a sense that we might be going to see something very special… and that is EXACTLY how it turned out!
I know very little about dance but, from start to finish, was completely blown away by the sheer brilliance of the dancers and the programme of three dances they performed. I’ve been trying to think of appropriate words to do justice to the evening, but don’t think I can… mesmerizing, inventive, athletic, intricate, funny, articulate, delicate, powerful, unsettling, stunning… simply beautiful. I was completely “hooked” by the second piece (“Before The Interval”) in particular – in which three of the dancers take a tongue-in-cheek appraisal of themselves as performers (complete with dialogue!). Absolutely captivating to watch and very funny to listen to. Quite, quite brilliant!
As a former sporty person who’s now well past his sell-by-date and about to undergo a hip replacement, I found their flexibility, athleticism, humour, timing and elegance completely entrancing - even if I ended up feeling very old, stiff and inflexible - and just a “little” jealous of ALL their massive talents!
An exceptional evening (and great to meet up with Charlie+Sam again afterwards as well).
In an effort to save some money, we decided NOT to see the acclaimed Henri Mattise, David Bailey, Vikings exhibitions (and, no doubt, countless others)… but we DID visit the following (all free):
1.     BORO (at Somerset House): an exhibition on the Japanese textile tradition of boro – translated to “rags” in English.
2.     National Portrait Gallery (one of my favourite London galleries and spaces).
3.     Sir John Soane’s Museum (an amazing, bizarre house, designed by Soane himself, and filled with his antiquities and works of art).
4.     The British Museum (I particular love Norman Foster’s Great Court space – great for people-watching!)(we also spent over an hour doing the museum’s mini-tour – so MANY things to see, you could visit every day for a year and still see “new” things).
5.     And, of course, just walking around London is always an experience in itself – this time incorporating the Embankment, Covent Garden, Lincoln’s Inn Fields and loads, loads more.
Photo: Christopher Akrill and Gemma Nixon performing “Two”.    

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