Local Group ‘Seren’ Ready for Britain’s Got Talent Stardom

Adam, Chelsea, Deryn and Cersha were only together as the all singing, all dancing pop act ‘Seren’ for two weeks before auditioning for Britain’s Got Talent in Cardiff. After a long day of auditioning, Seren eventually made it through to the producer’s round. The group, who are from Sandra Gage’s Stage One Productions, are now waiting to hear if they will make it through to the live shows in front of the celebrity judges.

Take a look at the following video and see these talented little superstars in action.

The Dance Disciple

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National Dance Company Wales’ Autumn Tour 2013: Review

The National Dance Company Wales returned to Cardiff’s Millennium Centre earlier this week

Royal Welsh College Symphony Orchestra

Royal Welsh College Symphony Orchestra

along with some help from the Royal Welsh College Symphony Orchestra. I was there to see what the company dancers had to offer this year.

The first arrangement, named “Virtual Descent” by choreographer, Eleesha Drennan, was a thought-provoking piece of contemporary dance. The company dancers gracefully manipulating a large staircase that descended from the wings. Ultramodern looking cut out costumes added to the illusion of a futuristic setting but it was the use of isolations that really gave the sense of a future life.

NDC Wales dancers performing Virtual Descent

NDC Wales dancers performing Virtual Descent

Frantic arm isolations contrasted with fluid upper body ripples to present a juxtaposition of the robotic and the free. Similarly, moments where the dancers were in unison opposed the highly individual based arrangements. It seems, therefore, that Drennan’s choreography successfully captures the idea of modern technology in opposition to the need for traditional communication in an evolving dystopia at the bottom of the stairs.

Dramatic scenery with a large staircase catching the eye on the left of the stage

Dramatic scenery with a large staircase catching the eye on the left of the stage

So, if it is easy-going, carefree dance that you enjoy, then this arrangement will certainly not be your cup of tea. Overall, the technicality of the piece should be applauded- dancers were strong throughout, excluding moments when lateral extensions could have been cleaner. I admire this unique and deeply inspired arrangement but propose a warning to those who don’t fancy a hard hitting, philosophical twist on your standard contemporary routine.

Meanwhile, Angelin Prelijocaj’s “Noces” was entirely different again. The arrangement seemed enthused with Eastern European folk dance and influenced by the choreographer’s experience of Balkan tradition. The male-female partner work added to this with athletic lifts and real energy as the men fling their women into the air.

Passionate partner work in Noces. Photographer: Roy Campbell-Moore

Passionate partner work in Noces. Photographer: Roy Campbell-Moore

But as with the previous arrangement, Noces is far more thoughtful than a purely aesthetic inspired choreography. Prelijocaj uses a number of soft mannequins in the shape of lifeless brides to present a poignant and cynical perspective of the wedding day. The brides are tossed violently around the stage and the story the dancers tell appears more tragic than celebratory. One word that I will use to describe Noces is passionate. The dancers are full of passion throughout and the choreography manages to preserve a balance of being dynamic, entertaining and mentally stimulating all at once.

The mannequin brides in Noces. Photographer: Roy Campbell-Moore

The mannequin brides in Noces. Photographer: Roy Campbell-Moore

Finally, we came to what I suggest is the pinnacle of the tour- the emphatic highlight of the evening that was Stephen Petronio’s “Water Stories”. The piece is a collaboration of stunning dance sequence, breathtaking photography of Welsh landscape projected onto the backdrop and an incredible score by Atticus Ross- composer of the score for The Girl With Dragon Tattoo and The Social Network. The piece was cleverly amalgamated to incorporate all of these elements in a lyrical masterpiece. Dancers glided across the stage in a wave of assemblé en tournants, mimicking the waterways that appeared behind them.

Stunning backdrops in Water Stories. Photographer: Rhys Cozens

Stunning backdrops in Water Stories. Photographer: Rhys Cozens

My only criticism would be of the opening sequence. While the penchés were precisely elegant they seemed slightly unbalanced due to the dramatic difference in stature of the two solitary dancers.  But this is me being intensely pedantic as my decidedly blank notepad proves. I was truly swept away by both the stunning choreography and the dynamic music that really did propel the choreography.

All in all, a hugely successful evening for NDC Wales and a tour that presents an eclectic trio of contemporary arrangements.

Company dancer, Neus Gil Cortés in Water Stories. Photographer: Rhys Cozens

Company dancer, Neus Gil Cortés in Water Stories. Photographer: Rhys Cozens

Welsh Street Dance Championships 2013: What to Expect

This is quite literally the biggest street dance competition that Wales has EVER seen.

Guest judges and BGT finalists 'Flawless'

Guest judges and BGT finalists ‘Flawless’

Over 2,500 dancers are competing in the Welsh Street Dance Championships in Newport at the end of the month (in front of a crowd of around 1,600 people). And the stakes are high with many hoping to qualify for the 2014 World and European champs in Glasgow and Germany respectively. Win the Worlds and you win an £8,000 prize fund!

I caught up with Kate Lewis, project manager at UDO (United Dance Organisation), the company who coordinates not only the Welsh Champs but also 12 other regional qualifiers across the UK. They are a global company running street dance competitions worldwide across America to Spain and even countries in Africa.

So who are UDO?

And if you needed any more convincing of just how BIG this event is going to be, the judges for the competition will be the members of Flawless from the 2009 Britain’s Got Talent Finals along with some other famous names…

So watch this space for videos, interviews and more straight from the Welsh Street Dance Championships on Sunday 24th November at Newport Leisure Centre.

In the meantime, take a look at previous competitors in UDO’s 2012 European Championships X-Flave. Watch more videos at UDO’s youtube page.

Uniting Two Worlds: Dance Meets Rugby as 500 Community Dancers Take Centre Stage at the Rugby League World Cup Opening Ceremony.

But can this innovative new style that blends the two together really be pulled off in a stadium full of rugby fans?

Rugby League World Cup 2013 ambassador, Gethin Jones at the 2012 conference

Rugby League World Cup 2013 ambassador, Gethin Jones at the 2012 conference

Exactly 1 year, 7 months and 3 days ago, I watched Rugby League ambassador and television smoothy, Gethin Jones announce the 2013 Rugby League World Cup would be in England and Wales. At no point back then did I think any form of dance would be incorporated into a sport where large, angry men slam each other to the ground. Elegance and poise combined with raw and aggressive athleticism… hmm. Strawberries and cream, fish and chips, Ant and Dec- all formidable duos, right? But rugby and dance?! Not got quite the same ring to it, has it? I was sceptical.

That was until I met with the dancers of Stage One Productions. They explained to me that the routine, one they will be performing in front of potentially 57,000 spectators in the Millennium stadium on Saturday,

Dancers Conall, Edie, Eva and Erin with their teacher and Stage One Productions Director, Sandra Gage outside the Millennium Stadium

Dancers Conall, Edie, Eva and Erin with their teacher and Stage One Productions Director, Sandra Gage outside the Millennium Stadium

embraces all kinds of elements from the sport. “One of my favourite parts is when we all come together to do a scrum” explained Conall, one of the dancers. It dawned on me; maybe rugby and dance aren’t so different after all…Both are extremely energetic, need precise footwork and require an exceptional level of dedication for success. Even choreographer, James Wilton (a lifelong rugby league fan) admits his routine is overwhelmingly influenced by rugby ‘moves’. “The dancers sort of throw themselves at each other in the way that rugby players tackle each other”, he says.

The routine will be performed before the opening game between England and Australia. Rehearsals have being going on for months and organisers faced the challenge of coordinating a total of 3,000 dancers. 500 of those were young people selected from different communities around Wales and the South West of England. Suddenly we see a heart-warming analogy emerge. The bringing together of dancing communities mirrors the performance on the pitch; one which artistically unites the competing nations in a sort of dance-rugby pastiche. For risk of sounding sickeningly lovey I will resist the temptation to claim the world is united by a passion for dance…

So, I have come to the conclusion that I was wrong to ever doubt it. I’m converted! Although Rugby-Dance is a style that I don’t think will EVER catch on, what I do know is that this Saturday’s opening ceremony will be an aesthetic explosion where sport blends with dance in one huge world cup firework. But watch it for yourself and make your own decision. Does it work? With the likes of Gethin Jones, ex rugby pro Martin Offiah and Strictly’s Camilla Dallerup and Erin Boag all showing off their own moves, it is a must watch for dancers and sports fans alike.

If you’re still confused by this mishmash of “Rance” or “Dugby” (ok, never going to happen) then check out this video posted by the RLWC 2013 website on http://www.rlwc2013.com/community_initiatives/dance_programme

Happy viewing and keeeeeeep dancing!