Contact Dance Company premier performances of ‘Human Range’ and ‘Being Seen’

Contact Dance Company performed two new pieces in front of a sell-out audience at
The Walker Theatre, Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury.

The first surprise for the audience, in this eagerly awaited show, was that seats were aligned in two long rows, facing each other across the performance space. In the front row we rested our feet on the dance floor: we were going to be close to the action.

The first piece was a duet entitled Human Range. Two dancers, one of whom used a wheelchair, explored the limits of their own and each other’s human range. A fresh and energetic soundtrack, by composer Nils Frahm, accompanied the piece. Human Range was choreographed by Shropshire Inclusive Dance directors,
Rachel Liggitt and Ray Jacobs.

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Dancers, Delphine Wise and Poppy Mansfield, used gestures and sweeping movement, combining equal measures of clear, sharp focus and physical power and fragility. Delphine manoeuvred her chair with grit and grace. Poppy Mansfield added playfulness and liquid smooth movement to the piece. When in close proximity, the dancers’ bodies, gestures and sight lines reached across the space in a series of near misses and fleeting moments of contact.

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As the work progressed the contact became more frequent and physical; human range became a metaphor for emotional and physical support. The long dance space, with audiences either side, acted as a corridor for playful and sometimes competitive travelling sequences. Audiences, so close to the action, were truly part of what they had come to see.

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‘Being Seen’, choreographed by Jo Fong, took the audience by surprise. Eight performers entered the stage to the joyful fanfare of Handel’s Zadok The Priest. As an audience member, I felt I was constantly being offered: ‘This is me and This is me and This is me’ as dancers gazed towards us from different parts of the stage. This was a great introduction to the dancers that make up Contact Dance Company: dancers of different ages, dancers with different bodies, dancers who kept their feelings in, dancers whose smile and fears spilled out. It was joyous.
In the programme notes the choreographer, Jo Fong, asked: ‘Do you see the disability or the person?’  I saw humanity in all its diverse beauty.

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Cue the second big surprise of the evening, as ‘Zadok the Preist’ moved to its choral climax.  Dancers draped a huge floating sheet of white linen down the entire length of the ‘corridor’ and then, during the next frantic ten seconds, littered it with everyday objects, transforming the performance space. Pot Plants, photos, prosthetic limbs, children’s toys and all kinds of paraphernalia lay around the performers, who lifted, placed, rested on and moved the objects, offering disjointed and unexpected images, sometimes dystopian, sometimes comical.

The piece never failed to surprise, moving through sections where performers conducted the audience like an orchestra, to a bold, sensuous duet, accompanied by a dark Nick Cave love song.

20190715-_DSC4795The audience were truly riveted; there was so much to see, including the reactions of each other across the dance space. There were further chances for the audience to get to know the performers as each dancer talked one to one to audience members about their very own special object; Dancer Amal Neffi shared the story of her prosthetic legs and the geographical and emotional journey it was for her to get to the point where they could be discarded, in favour of being seen for who she is. Dancer Andrew Kelly, shared the love of his Star Trek costume and the joy of being seen as a different person.

 

 

 

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As these monologues progressed, dancers began to congregate in a melee of movement, shifting and being shifted as an ensemble across the space. It was like watching an anamatron of limbs, bodies, arms, wheels and legs, moving in, out and between each other. The faces of audience members next to me looked bewildered at the speed, complexity, and sensitivity of this improvised movement. No time for the eyes to settle on one person – continual meeting, engaging and leaving.

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The final section of the work felt like the slow transformation from sunset to dusk, as intimate duos closed their eyes and began slowly moving each other. The dancers continued long after the stage lights receded, creating a sense of something without end, whether seen or not.

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Being Seen was performed by Chloe Shepherd, Amal Neffi, Mervyn Bradley,
Kevin Shepherd, Anna Belyavin, Becky Keir, Andrew Kelly, and Rachel Liggitt.

Directed by Jo Fong

Music was by George Frideric Handel, Antonio Vivaldi, Nick Cave, and Kiasmos.

Lighting Design – Jonathan Tritton

Costume Design and Fitting – Sue Hall

Jo Fong is an award-winning director, choreographer & performer working in dance, film, theatre, opera and the visual arts.

Contact Dance Company is part of Shropshire Inclusive Dance.

For more information about the company, visit http://www.sidance.live

 

Lift Off! Rehearsals have begun for Contact Dance Company’s new show ‘Being Seen’

‘Contact Dance Company’ have begun rehearsals for a brand new dance piece entitled ‘Being Seen’, to be premiered at Theatre Severn on July 20th, 2019

Choreographer, Jo Fong, is working with a cast of eight dancers with and without disabilities, to craft this new dance work. Jo, who has worked with international companies such as Ballet Rambert and the Welsh National Opera, has been enjoying day one of rehearsals:

‘It’s so exciting to be at The Hive in Shrewsbury, with Contact Dance Company. It feels like a brand new era for the company- something fresh and energised. I’m finding myself constantly inspired by the dancers’ generosity and creativity’.

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 Amal Neffi, a company dancer with a disability, reflects on the first day working with the choreographer.

‘We challenged ourselves as dancers, learning how each other move, and building our confidence to work in close contact, supporting, moving and listening to each other.

 

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The new dance, ‘ Being Seen’, will be a treat for Shropshire audiences. Contact Dance Company has built a strong reputation for its powerful brand of contemporary inclusive dance, full of depth and connection. Choreographer Jo Fong wows audiences with her refreshing, energetic and playful dance-making; the combination promises to be a feast for the senses.

Audiences for ‘Being Seen’ performances will be invited to sit close to the action. Shropshire Inclusive Dance co artistic director Ray Jacobs states:

‘It’s really important that audience members see the details of the dance and feel the connection between dancers. The smallest gesture, the qualities of contact between dancers, is a delight to watch. Witnessing the show will be a sensory experience’.

This new dance piece is funded by Arts Council England and Shropshire Council.

Seats for ‘Being Seen’ can be booked via the Theatre Severn box office or online here  but hurry, tickets are going fast!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contact Dance Company begin an exciting new performance project with dance artist Jo Fong.

Contact Dance Company performers spent two fabulous & creative days with Jo Fong, gathering ideas for a new piece to be premiered by the company at Theatre Severn in the summer.

Jo Fong invited the dancers into her physical, energetic, and dynamic style of dance.

How close can we dance together?  How small can our dances be?
How much noise can we make while we dance. Can we all dance in this tiny space here?

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Jo’s invitations to move were enthusiastically accepted by the company dancers.
Dances of an incredible range were explored over the weekend, subtle small dances in pairs, wild chaotic dancers with the whole company in small spaces, moments of quiet tenderness, lots of laughter and applause, the work was beautiful, powerful and funny to witness.

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Jo Fong is a director, choreographer and performer working in dance, film, theatre, opera and live art. Her eclectic career includes performances with DV8 Physical Theatre, Rosas (Belgium) and Rambert Dance Company.

 

Talking about her work Jo states’

‘The work creates shared experiences, as an audience member, performer or as participant. It seeks to invite an open exchange and immediacy through arts creation and opportunities that aim to promote and support inclusivity and the value of art to everyone’

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Jo Fong and Contact Dance Company are a great match. Jo, during the workshop shared her observation of the incredible physical and creative connection shared between Contact Dance Company dancers. Jo likes to see the work she is making with Contact Dance Company,  with all its diversity, connection, humanness and dynamism, as the future, the new normal.

 

 

 

Ways of Being Together. A two day workshop with Jo Fong. March 5th/ 6th

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‘Ways of Being Together is a series of workshops, discussions and performances facilitated by Jo Fong centred around the idea of of Belonging. A sense of belonging is intimate and powerful, connected, optimistic, unknown and curious making’

Members of Contact dance Company were joined by dancers from around the region to dance under the energising and inspiring guidance of dance artist  Jo Fong.

Jo Fong is a director, choreographer and performer working in dance, film, theatre, opera and the visual arts. Her eclectic career includes performances with DV8 Physical Theatre, Rosas (Belgium) and Rambert Dance Company. Recent collaborations include working with Wendy Houstoun, Sonia Hughes, Deborah Light, Unfinished Business, Skye Reynolds, National Theatre Wales, Welsh National Opera, Hull Dance and Quarantine

Jo really immersed us in movement; her own joy of moving (whole heartedly and energetically) was contagious. Jo built energy in our bodies and throughout the group and facilitated a climate of listening, physical playfulness and openness to change.

When Jo set us simple movement based tasks, for example  ‘listening to a partners spine’, ‘dancing in partners, hands placed simply on shoulders’, or following our gaze to initiate movement. The tasks were explored with appetite, verve and sensitivity.

We also listened to the whole group dancing and our place in it,  the ensemble as an animal, improvising, listening, accelerating, quieting and resting

It felt by the end of the two days as if the group had been really stretched, challenged, had worked hard physically and got a lot of joy from moving and being together.

 

Above are some images of the 2ndday of the workshop when Jo was working with Contact Dance Company. Photography is by Ewen Macintyre.

 

 

Growing Together – Open Workshops

Shropshire inclusive Dance invites you to ‘Growing Together’  

Spring Open Workshops

 A series of workshops led by highly skilled practicing professional dance
and performance makers, 

open to disabled and non-disabled dancers

The workshops will take place at The Gateway Centre in Shrewsbury.

 The aim of our workshop series is to support, inspire and stimulate dancers and practitioners in their ongoing development as performers, facilitators and dance makers. The Workshops will pay particular focus on movement exploration as a source for improvisation, dance making, performance and inclusion.

A limited number of places are available to dance practitioners, with at least 2 years dance experience and an interest in inclusive practice, to join Contact Dance company members in an explorative workshop setting.

Joanna Young
Ways of being in unknown places
Wednesday 21st February, 10am  – 4.30pm.

Working with improvisations and scores (creative movement tasks and instructions), open to individual and a group interpretation, the workshop explores how we can navigate, compose and find comfort within the unknown.  Co-creating an environment of care, sensitivity and intrigue, this workshop is a place to be tactile, playful and curious around the relationship between bodies, objects and environment.

Joanna has a passionate interest in collaborative and inter-disciplinary work as well as the facilitation of creative process in others.  Her approach to facilitating is inclusive, generous and responsive.  Exploring our full sensory range within a somatic and improvisational process the workshop aims to re-arrange our modes of perception and the borders we create around things, places and people.

Jo Fong
Ways of being together
Monday 5th March, 10am – 4.30pm

 ‘Ways of Being Together’ investigates the idea of Belonging by moving together – I’m interested in meeting people, encouraging awareness, listening and noticing. These workshops are part of a larger conversation about inclusivity and participation… thinking about what it is to thrive both individually and as a community.

I believe a sense of belonging is intimate and powerful, connected, optimistic, unknown and curious making. And at this time it seems essential to work on our Ways of Being Together. Please join me!

Jo Fong is a director, choreographer and performer working in dance, film, theatre, opera and the visual arts. Her eclectic career includes performances with DV8 Physical Theatre and Rambert Dance Company. Recent collaborations include working with Wendy Houstoun, Welsh National Opera, Hull Dance and Quarantine.

As an independent artist she has toured her choreographic work throughout the UK and international venues. Her work has been recognised and awarded by The Critic’s Circle National Dance Awards, Creative Wales Award and Wales Theatre Awards.

 Aya Kobayashi

The whole body in spontaneity and play
Wednesday 4th April, 10am – 4.30pm

Aya’s workshop will explore the embodiment using whole body with sense of spontaneity and playful characterisation.
We may use some materials to make wearable sculpture or object. Through improvisations and various games we will explore the effective choreographies with the particular materials.

Aya is an independent dance artist working in the field of performance and movement exploration. As a performer she has worked with choreographers/ companies  including Rosemary Lee, Charlie Morrissey, Lila Dance, Kerry Nicholls, and Pete Shenton (New Art Club) and Gecko Theatre.

Booking details

 Cost per workshop

£50 – Participants from funded dance organisations

£40  – Dance Professionals

£20 –  Concessionary rate for low waged dancers / participants.

Booking is on a first come first serve basis. Booking can be made through

Email : directorsidance@gmail.com

Telephone : Rachel Liggitt 07855931214 or Ray Jacobs 07817194644

Venue Details: The Gateway Centre, Chester Street, Shrewsbury SY1 1NA

The venue is fully accessible. The venue is close by to Shrewsbury train Station.

Car Parking can be found nearby at

Raven Meadows, Shrewsbury SY1 1PL or Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury SY3 8HQ

A suggested accommodation list can be provided if overnight accommodation is required.