Category Archives: Uncategorized

Take 2: Dating Etiquette

So… this was a while ago, and I have since had a very good dating experience, but here are my initial thoughts on joining the online dating world. There’s a lot to be said for it as a new way of meeting people, but it isn’t quite like meeting people in person.

Dating Etiquette: Virtual Judgement

online-dating

I recently went on my first ever date with a stranger. Not completely blind, mind you – but we had never met before. Some weeks ago, I realised that I hadn’t met anyone new since I moved to London in October – in a non-professional, non-living-in-the-same-house scope anyway. So, on a Saturday morning 2am whim, I joined a dating site. You know, the free one that has vague religious affiliations.

I quickly discovered that there’s a helluva lot of self-marketing going on here – and I am told that women get far more positive responses than men, which may tell us more about the gender doing the judging than the gender being judged – so you really have to think about how you’re likely to be perceived.

Click the link in the title to read the full article on Aliljoy.

One of those days…

Yesterday I had one of those crappy crystalline moments when I realised I not only did not have my keys with me, but I’d left my Oyster card at home too. I managed to get to Angel for an evening of dance – albeit spending more money than is usually required – where I treated a housemate to my spare ticket, and she of course had house keys. Today though, I’ve left my phone at work – it’s pathetic memory week apparently – but I’m convinced I’ll live without it for 15 hours.

It does remind me though of my shitty experience sans purse and sans Oyster, when I cried on the tube thinking I was in an invisible Cas World bubble.

sliding-doors

On The Line: Crisis on the London Tube

Thinking back to this, I’m curious: why do we  assume that, because we live in a big, busy city we’re automatically faceless and invisible to the people that surround us?

Yes, they are strangers, but that doesn’t make them people any less. I think it says a lot that Londoners tend to expect almost a complete disconnection to other Londoners in public places.

Click the link in the title to read my article on Aliljoy.com

Is it valuable to judge another form of cultural performance on our own terms?

Last Saturday I saw the famous Gansu Ensemble performing their Silk Road in London for the first time since it was revived for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. I had mixed feelings about the piece. I was struck by the focus on sheer spectacle – Silk Road was full of glitter and large ensemble numbers that did little for the storyline – I was perhaps expecting something subtler. In fact, I was expecting something very culture-specific to Northern China – something nuanced and highly technical – but I didn’t feel that was what was being presented by the ensemble. I found the imitative use of Thai and Indian dance forms a little difficult because they felt culturally insensitive, and the same goes for some of the costumes.

Another thing I found very strange was the audience. At first I found it odd to see an almost entirely Chinese audience assembled in their best clothing for the occasion – I had expected more interest from culturally-curious Londoners like myself, but apparently there had been little uptake – even on press tickets. Secondly, it was very strange to sit among an audience who didn’t shut up. People talked throughout every second of the entire piece. There was no audible hush when the lights went down. Instead, every time the curtain went down (between every one of six acts, a prologue and epilogue) the whispering voices rose to full conversation volume, and took a while to return to whispers even after the next act began. I was astounded! But the unspoken rule of silence during performances clearly doesn’t apply in China, and hasn’t penetrated the Chinese community in London. This difference between audience approaches got me thinking…

Writing my review for this piece raised several questions for me, particularly pertaining to my position to pass judgement on such a production. Clearly, I came to Silk Road with different expectations than the majority of other viewers in the audience. I had quite a different reaction to another reviewer I spoke to, and I left the venue with ambivalent  feelings.

I didn’t enjoy the piece as much as I had hoped I would. Why? Had I got carried away with knowing that this was a particularly famous piece of dance-theatre? Or does my knowledge of Asian theatre and performance actually make me more judgmental? My overwhelming reaction was that the piece was little more than a spectacle pigeonholing “Asianness” and playing to stereotype. I found it very strange that a production that has toured the world for decades representing China is presenting the country like this. I must admit, it probably hasn’t been developed hugely since it was originally created in the late 1970s, and originates from a country that’s not exactly known for it’s respect for freedom of expression. It’s a complex topic and it was a memorable production – perhaps not for the intended purposes though. Nonetheless, I managed to write something reasonably concise that hopefully won’t offend anyone!

Opening scene of Silk Road © Gansu Ensemble
Opening scene of Silk Road © Gansu Ensemble

Gansu Ensemble’s Silk Road in London

Gansu Dance Drama & Opera Ensemble’s Silk Road is a colourful, vibrant depiction of an ancient Chinese tale, taken from the famed Dunhuang Frescoes of the Gansu province of China. This production was originally created in 1979 by the then Gansu Opera and Dance Troupe as Tales of the Silk Road, and was adapted for film and toured around Europe and Asia in 1982. Silk Road was reconceived in 2008 in celebration of the Beijing Olympics, where it was performed in its current form by the Gansu Ensemble. The piece has been performed in 400 cities worldwide in the 34 years since its creation, but this is its first performance in London following the Beijing Olympics six years ago. Watching Silk Road in Sadler’s Wells’ Peacock Theatre in was a thoroughly enjoyable and unique experience.

Follow the hyperlink in the title to read my full review on Bachtrack.

Première of Renaud Wiser’s Metropolis

On the 9th December, after a glass or two of wine with colleagues, I hurried my way from work to RichMix, a venue I had never been to before. Although it’s not a major venue for dance, it’s got some interesting dance and theatre pieces there every so often, and seems to me a pretty dynamic place, with a lot of music, cinema and exhibitions.

Awaiting the arrival of a friend in the lobby, I met Donald Hutera, who reviews dance for the Times, and had conducted the post-show discussion at the previous event I had reviewed, only a few days before. I sidled up to him and spoke briefly to him about the previous event. He forgot my name almost immediately, so I gave him my card. My friend and I ended up sitting next to him, right at the front of the audience, close to the action. As ever I scribbled away in the dark of the black box space, and more in the interval, at which point we noticed several of the Rambert dancers, there to support Renaud Wiser. It was an informal and very interesting evening.  There was a visible network of dancers, choreographers and artists of other capacities – a certain crowd I was just outside of and wish so to join. That’s quite an incentive I suppose.

Metropolis (Dancers: Aaron Vickers and Lisa Welham)
Metropolis (Dancers: Aaron Vickers and Lisa Welham)

Renaud Wiser has the weight of Rambert behind him

Budding young choreographer Renaud Wiser presents two dynamic, experimental pieces, his choreography bearing the hallmark of his dancing experience.An ex-Rambert dancer, Wiser is a founding member of the New Movement Collective and this evening’s presentation is supported by Free To Fall, an artists and producers development programme. These things enable – not define – Wiser and his work, which remains individual. There is a visceral, up-close-and-personal quality to these pieces which, in the small studio theatre of RichMix, make a vivid impression.

Click on the here to read the full review on Bachtrack.com

World première of Shobana Jeyasingh’s unique new Strange Blooms

 

Shobana Jeyasingh's Strange Blooms premiered in London © Chris Nash
Shobana Jeyasingh’s Strange Blooms premiered in London © Chris Nash

World première of Shobana Jeyasingh’s unique new Strange Blooms

Shobana Jeyasingh presents an evening of detailed precision in two highly unique works spanning a career of over 25 years. This double bill in Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall pairs a revival of Jeyasingh’s most prominent early work, Configurations, with the world première of her latest work, Strange Blooms. Although they differ vastly in aesthetics and movement style, both works demonstrate the meticulous detail and structural complexity of Jeyasingh’s work. The two commissioned scores lend extremely well to the choreography: music and movement are partnered very closely in these works.

The images of this newest creation are absolutely stunning. However, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed – having seen these images ahead of the performance – that the projections were not visible with such clarity during the piece itself.

Jeyasingh's unique new Strange Blooms © Chris Nash
Jeyasingh’s unique new Strange Blooms © Chris Nash

Please follow the link in the title to continue reading my review. All images are taken from Bachtrack Dance.

Don’t date a girl who reads

Don’t date a girl who reads

“The girl who reads has spun out the account of her life, and it is bursting with meaning. She insists that her narratives are rich, her supporting cast colorful, and her typeface bold. She has dreamed, properly, of someone who is better than you are. She will accept nothing less than passion, and perfection, and a life worthy of being storied.”
 
This article is both dismaying and beautiful. I wonder how many people go down that easy road of life, content but not excited, never fulfilling their full capacity to love, live, laugh. I refuse to live like that.
 
“Of all things, the girl who reads knows most the ineluctable significance of an end. She is comfortable with them. She has bid farewell to a thousand heroes with only a twinge of sadness.”