Shoreditch Takeover, Shoreditch Town Hall, London

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Shoreditch is the centre of cool in London at the moment, so you would expect its contribution to the Dance Umbrella Festival 2017 to be cutting edge and innovative. On both these counts it certainly delivers. Shoreditch Takeover is made up of four very different pieces, happening in separate spaces within the beautiful old building that is Shoreditch Town Hall. Twenty first century art within nineteenth century architecture.

First is Rays, Sparks and Beating Glows. This is choreographed by Julie Cunningham and is an intense piece, about gender and feminism, for four dancers. It is performed without music, although there is some spoken word towards the end.

Next is Vanessa Kinsuule, who is a wonderful poet. She is, witty, insightful, nostalgic and honest. She has a winning personality, who can really involve an audience and the introductions to the poems are almost as good as the poems themselves.  Her whole set is great and the poem about an evening, dancing at a nightclub, is a highlight.

The third set is Lizbeth Gruwez dances Bob Dylan, a personal interpretation, exploring the edges of dance. For “Knockin’ on Heavens Door”, Lizbeth stands with her back to the audience at the front of the stage and walks, slowly and beautifully, to the back. You haven’t seen minimalism in dance until you have watched this. The Bob Dylan tracks are played on vinyl and are quite scratchy at times, invoking images of drunk and stoned nights in 70’s bedsits.

The final work is a film, The Shadow Drone Project, cleverly filmed from above, where the actual bodies of the dancers can hardly be seen, but instead we watch their shadows interact with each other. Some of this appears choreographed and some not, blurring the line between formal dance and how our brains make patterns.

All in all, a varied and interesting night in a lovely venue, a good addition to the Dance Umbrella Festival 2017.

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The Comedy Loft, Camden, London

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The Comedy Loft in Camden has got lots of things going for it.

It serves food; burgers, nachos, chicken wings, falafels – we ate and it was good quality.

The drinks are reasonably priced for central London – and you can pre-order them and have them delivered to your table during the intervals. Very sophisticated!

The show starts at 8pm, which is enough time to get a couple of drinks and chat before the start.

The 8 o’clock start means that the crowd is still restrained enough for the performers to deliver their acts without having to shout over drunks and sober enough that if there is a heckler there is a chance that they might be funny.

The reception and service were the best I’ve ever had in a comedy club.

The comedians were funny – that’s always good in a comedy show.

Finally, if after all this, you still haven’t had good night; it’s in Camden, so you are very likely to get offered drugs on your way back to the tube!

 

Rising Stars at 229 The Venue, London

Saint Agnes

Rising Stars is a showcase for up and coming music artists. The events are organised by Time Out and take place in famous venues around London.

On May 17th at 229 The Venue, Great Portland Street, the bands I saw were: Emily Capell, David Stewart, Saint Agnes and Jackaman.

Emily Capell is a singer/songwriter with a good voice, witty songs and a good stage presence. Her songs are poppy and catchy and have a nice sing-along feel to them.

David Stewart has a really strong voice, writes clever (sometimes harsh) lyrics and has great delivery. He exudes confidence and appears very relaxed on stage.

Saint Agnes are a prog rock, riff heavy band. Their songs were fantastic, great vocals, good harmonies. Their guitar riffs were excellent. They were visually interesting and really got the crowd moving. They got the best reaction of the night and I will definitely go to see them again.

Jackaman are an Indie rock outfit fronted by Lynne Jackaman who used to front St. Jude. They are on the rockier side of Indie and their songs and vocals are strong. Very enjoyable.

Rising Stars nights happen around London about 6 or 7 times a year. They are not expensive to get into and from what I have seen the music is always high quality. It is a great way of getting to see new live bands and a very good value night out.

The photo is of the band Saint Agnes

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