Lisbeth Gruwez, AH/HA

“With little warning, laughter rips through the performers’ bodies. It splutters and vomits out of their limbs, climaxing in a mosh pit of throbbing arms and torsos. They cackle, bark and squawk, fragments of laughter are tossed between the dancers and hurled at the audience.”

You can read my full review here:


GOlive Festival 2015

GOlive  Festival 2015

Burton Taylor Studio, Oxford Playhouse

18 July 2015

Susan Kempster My Own Private Movie

Drishti Dance QuickSilver and Silent Melody

Susie Crow Shades of Tisiphone

Marie-Louise Crawley Myrrha

Sue Lewis/Ffin Dance Fascination

We are up close and personal in the Burton Taylor Studio at the Oxford Playhouse. Presenting dance in small space makes fresh demands on performers as well as those of us watching. The proximity of the dancers intensifies the experience. The degree of intimacy is a little unsettling, but we are a friendly crowd and a warm camaraderie fuels goodwill.

Curated by Donald Hutera, GOlive is in its third year. Introducing the programme Hutera is like a kid in a sweet shop and his enthusiasm is infectious. All six works had something new to offer. My Own Private Movie choreographed and performed by Susan Kempster involves some of the audience entering the performance space and engaging in very simple improvisations. Kempster gives us all MP3 players with unique soundtracks. In something akin to my daily commute, my head and my body are in two different places. And perhaps this is Kempster’s point, the delicious contradiction of social media: together and not together, caught between the virtual and the physical but unable to belong wholly to either.

Anuradha Chaturvedi shimmers in QuickSilver. The music ripples through Chaturvedi’s hands and fingers and the sound of her feet snapping at the floor beautifully contrasts the lyricism of her upper body. The blue and gold of Chaturvedi’s dress swirls around her legs as she twists and turns and the undulating curves of her arms are like the wings of birds. Chaturvedi is enchanting. Her eyes twinkle as she dances, bringing to life the nuances in John Thurlow’s musical score.

Inspired by the trio of figures in Picasso paintings, the dancers in Sue Lewis’ piece Fascination eat up the space with ravenous intent. They duck and weave, tumble and expand; bursting forth like the vibrant colours and jutting angles that explode in a Picasso canvas. Lewis plays around with several juicy choreographic ideas, but perhaps too many, as the work loses its way at times. Powerfully danced, it is an exciting and dynamic finale to the evening.

No doubt, Hutera’s curation is eclectic, but GOlive champions the work of dance makers who are rattling the cage of performative norms. I’m left wondering whether Hutera – dance critic for that most traditional broadsheet The Times – is quietly sowing the seeds of a rebellion. Is this the first whispers of a Judson Church-style revolution? Over the last two decades we’ve been riding a wave of elitism in dance. Elitism is not a bad thing, but arguably it has passed its peak and is now narrowing, rather than expanding, the possibilities of the art form. A new era of experimentation in British dance is long overdue and GOlive is emerging as catalyst for change.

GOlive 2015 has toured in London and Oxford and finishes this week at the Chesil Theatre in Winchester on 24th July.

Philippa Newis


Reflections on Paradise

InTRANSIT Festival of Art                                                                                                                       Chelsea Arts Collective Paradise on Earth: Give and Take                                                                 Sunken Garden, Sutton Dwellings, London SW3                                                                                     Sunday 28th June 2015

“And I think to myself, what a wonderful world” sings Donald Hutera, co-curator of Paradise on Earth: Give and Take. Nestled in Sutton Dwellings – a social housing project in Chelsea, West London – the Sunken Garden, provides a small but perfectly formed performance space where artists and visitors mingle freely. Sunshine winks through the leaves of the trees and I feel like I’ve stumbled into a treasure trove brimming with humanity and creativity.

Donald Hutera, co-curator of Paradise on Earth: Give and Take
Donald Hutera, co-curator of Paradise on Earth: Give and Take

I came to watch. Ready with my notebook and pen I planned to write down my considered observations, but after a few minutes I’m itching to join in and I’ve stuffed my dance critic paraphernalia back into my bulging handbag. It is a bit like falling down the proverbial rabbit hole, I find myself hula-hooping (badly) with Mil Vukovic, being serenaded by Gordon Raeburn on his harmonica and Nicholas Minns reads poetry to me, whilst sitting on the knee of another audience member.

Nicholas Minns reading poetry

Together with Lilia Pegado, Hutera creates a rainbow utopia; a snapshot of what happiness might look like in the here and now. Resplendent in a red satin corset, Hutera is the ring master guiding the performers through a series of task-based improvisations. Running through Paradise is a warm hearted inclusivity. The creative contributions of professional and non-professional performers are treated with equal respect and enthusiasm. I’m a kid in a sweet shop, but standout moments include a tender intergenerational duet danced by Riccardo Attanasio and Andrew Downes. The ebb and flow of their shared physicality whispers gently in the breeze and Kali Chandrasegaram’s  majestic solo captivates my imagination with his cut glass gestures and improvised accompaniment by Miriam Gould.

Kali Chandrasegaram
Kali Chandrasegaram
Riccardo Attanasio and Andrew Downes
Riccardo Attanasio and Andrew Downes

After two hours, we’ve bonded over spontaneous silliness and shared creative endeavours. Residents are coming out of their flats to get a closer look at the brightly-coloured menagerie of artists occupying their garden. I walk back to my car past the grand apartments, posh shops and eateries decorating West London’s elite SW3 postcode. The trappings of money-can-buy luxury jars uncomfortably with my free-to-all encounter with Paradise. I feel consumed by warm, fuzzy feelings of contentment and connectedness, and – yes – I do think to myself, what a wonderful world.

Philippa Newis

Paradise on Earth: Give and Take was presented by Chelsea Arts Collective and is part of the ninth InTRANSIT Festival of Arts.

Photo credits: Paolo Coruzzi. Contact: