Category Archives: Culture

6 ways to be more Danish

Yes, I know, there are lots of ways to be Danish, and we’re all meant to have taken our rose-tinted spectacles off when it comes to our Nordic neighbours. But Ant and I just had a long weekend in Copenhagen, and I’m obsessed. So here are some of the little ways I’d like to make my life slightly more Scandi.

Rethink your interior design

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Think white walls festooned with huge art prints. Bare wooden floors edged with rows of potted succulents. Candles everywhere – and by the way, mobiles aren’t just for kids any more. I could definitely take on board some of the minimalist, functional, everything-has-it’s-place principles of Danish design.

Stop complaining about the weather

Copenhagen is colder and just as rainy as Leeds, yet somehow the weather isn’t a daily topic of conversation. Also, when it’s raining, Danish people still arrive at their destination looking, on average, much more beautiful than me. I have a theory that this has a lot to do with coats and boots. Danish people wear a stunning variety of sleek coats and heeled boots, which also repel wind, rain, and the struggles of a daily commute (I assume).

Go green

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Fun fact: Over a third of Denmark’s electricity is generated by wind turbines. Another one: Denmark plans to be fossil fuel free by 2050. Danes love their recycling and they are gradually reducing the amount of energy they’re using. Add to this the fact that they cycle EVERYWHERE and you’ve got a seriously green nation. Am I likely to take up cycling? No, considering every which way seems to be uphill in Leeds, but I could significantly reduce my energy consumption and do more to support green energy.

Take the top off your sandwich

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It’s time to level up your lunch. Baring your butty’s contents means you need to think a bit harder about what you’re putting in there, which might explain why smørrebrød is one of the best looking snacks around. Beef, salmon, prawns, egg, pâté, chicken, beetroot: you name it, they’ll slap it on a slice of rye and pile on some salad, herbs and dressing. Alongside that, you’ll need a cup of really good coffee and a pastry. Whether it’s a sweet and sticky cinnabun or a fat, flaky fastelavnsbolle, you’ll be glad you didn’t skip dessert.

Stop saying please

Okay, this one’s a bit extreme. But this weekend I found out the Danish don’t have a word for please, and…. I kinda liked it. Even though part of me likes the idea of a word that’s pure social lubrication, aren’t there other ways to ask nicely? And with a decade of waitressing experience under my belt, I can promise you that just because someone says the word please, does not mean that what they are saying is polite. So whilst I won’t be dropping please from my vocabulary any time soon – Britain is so not ready for that – I will be thinking hard about other ways to make people feel appreciated.

Take care of your skin


The green philosophy definitely extends to the beauty department in Denmark. Brands like Rudolph and Olé Henriksen embrace natural luxury and organic ingredients. I’m not sure about the science stuff, but I do know that I’ve never seen skin like it. Every time we went anywhere, I found myself gazing at someone with high cheekbones and translucent skin in the corner; do Danes even have pores??

Are you still as obsessed with Scandi style as I am?

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The Kite Runner at the West Yorkshire Playhouse

kite runner west yorkshire playhouse

I’ve got a busy week this week! All my weeks tend to be quite busy, what with a full time job, an internship and a blog, but this week I’ve also got two theatre visits and a bonfire to attend. It’s tiring but so nice to be seeing lots of lovely people, since working evenings can rob me of a social life somewhat.

Last night I went to the West Yorkshire Playhouse with some of my favourite work people to see The Kite Runner. We loved the book, and we were so excited to see how Giles Croft would bring Matthew Spangler’s adaptation to one of my favourite Leeds stages in the Quarry Theatre.

If you aren’t familiar with the story: rich Pashtun boy Amir grows up in Afghanistan with his Hazara servant Hassan as his closest friend. One snowy, kite-running day, an awful act of cowardice by Amir destroys their friendship, tearing the boys apart and leaving Amir racked with guilt and unsure how to seek redemption.

Ben Turner is truly the star of the show as Amir, a superior, selfish child, desperate for his father’s attention, who isn’t that much more pleasant as an adult. Nicholas Karimi merits a mention too as the terrifyingly sociopathic Aseff and Andrei Costin’s Hassan is loyal and vulnerable without being pathetic.

The sparse staging is used effectively, but much is still left to the imagination and as a result some of the continent-spanning majesty of the source material can be lost at times. There’s not enough contrast between dusty 1970s Kabul and San Francisco on the turn of the century, which means you lack a sense of how hard Amir has worked to distance himself from his childhood home, and of the differences between his life then and now.

However, this production really packs its punches emotionally. Amir’s youthful mistake has consequences he couldn’t have imagined, and his journey to redemption isn’t easy. By the time the play draws to a close, there’s barely a dry eye in the house. The final twenty minutes are raw, touching, harrowing, even, but never schmaltzy.

There’s a reason this production is going to be packed all week. It’s beautiful, a really hard look at a tragic story that shows friendship, betrayal and family ties transcend locations and cultures.

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Of Mice and Men at the West Yorkshire Playhouse

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What with house moving and illnesses and so on it’s been a good while since Ant and I have made it to the theatre, which is a huge shame since it’s one of our favourite things to do together. With that in mind, for Ant’s birthday last week I booked us tickets for Of Mice and Men, West Yorkshire Playhouse’s latest.

I always have high expectations at the Playhouse, just because I’ve seen so many outstanding productions there. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Mary Shelley, Loserville, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Annie….all absolutely top notch. Of Mice and Men absolutely lived up to my expectations, and then some.

The story follows George and Lennie, two itinerant ranch workers and close friends, as they start a new job. Their friendship is the focus of the play; Lennie worships George and George protects Lennie from those who don’t understand him.

The staging is gorgeous as always. Standing water at the front of the stage adds a dank, closed in feeling but as soon as the hundreds of lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling light up, that’s forgotten and you’re out beneath the stars in the wide open fields.

There’s such an oppressive atmosphere for much of the play, and the music is largely responsible. Heather Christian is musical director, composer and performer, and her Americana style adds so much to the mood of the play.

There’s not a weak link in the cast. Every performance is absorbing, and despite the large amounts of dialogue, you don’t lose interest for a second. It just means the well timed silences are all the more tense and even harrowing, when they come, to help propel you toward the inevitable but horrendous crescendo. The sense of a rush towards the finale is overwhelming, and the interval was agonising. I wanted to be immersed in the play again, but I didn’t want to see what I knew I would have to see.

This has flown straight into my top 3 of the Playhouse’s productions. Bloody brilliant night out, incredibly moving and never boring.

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Digital Zoo at Trinity Leeds

If you’ve been to Trinity over the weekend, you might have noticed a few interesting additions to the usual shoppers fare. That’s because, until the 23rd February, the shopping centre is hosting an exhibition from London’s Furtherfield Gallery.

Digital Zoo: Life from the World Wide Web is a series of pieces that explore links between people and wildlife, and draw similarities between our online presence and a specimen in a zoo.

The piece that emphasised this the most was Kay’s Blog, by Essex based artist Liz Sterry. Sterry followed Canadian blogger Kay’s posts over a few months, printing out pictures and taking notes, and eventually she was able to perfectly recreate the girl’s bedroom. This physical manifestation of Kay’s online presence sits in a wooden box outside H&M, and the swarms of people stopping to stare through the window, peek in the door and gawp at the scruffy bedlinen resemble nothing more than daytrippers at Chester Zoo.

Just down the nearby escalator is another physical representation of human life to be examined, in the form of Leeds Wall. Thompson and Craighead have amassed two weeks’ worth of social networking traffic from within a 2 mile radius of Trinity. The wall must be 15 feet high, but you almost don’t notice it. Yet, once you do see it, you can’t stop looking! Each tweet or status or comment is a tiny snapshot of human thought, activity or behaviour. The life and vibrancy of Leeds bursts off the wall in all its highs and lows

Animacules, by Genetic Moo, is the last thing you’d expect to see in the middle of a shopping centre. Five people at a time are handed torches and ushered into a dark tent, where a dark blue circle is projected onto the floor. Shine your torch into this circle, and suddenly it’s transformed into a deep pool crammed with sealife. The animations are based on real sea creatures, but made up of human body parts, so a starfish is five beckoning fingers. It’s a little creepy but incredibly absorbing, and you could watch it for ages.

The last two pieces are living in the Customer Service Lounge. Mary Flanagan’s [borders] is inspired by Henry Thoreau’s theory that walking around is the best way to really get to know your environment. Flanagan has applied that theory to Second Life, and has spent hours walking around real places in a digital environment. Flanagan is interested in the edges of this world, where the coding falls short or the illusion collapses, so her film stutters around looking into gaps where you can almost see the strings holding the experience up.

Finally, we have Crow_sourcing. This fun, interactive piece looks at the way nature has influenced human language. Scan the barcode on one of the many animals hung on the board, and on the screen a list of idioms associated with that animal flashes up. These idioms have been crowd sourced via social media. It gets even more exciting behind the installation, where you’ll find a blank wall, a handful of black markers and some stickers. No-one’s ever asked me to draw on an artwork before, and I doubt it’ll happen again, so I got involved despite my furious lack of skill!

Along with CultureCode, Furtherfield are hoping to challenge the idea that art belongs in galleries by bringing their pieces to shopping centres around the country, including the White Rose Centre and the Bridges in Sunderland. But if you’re in Leeds then don’t forget to catch this at Trinity before it leaves on the 23rd!

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In other news…

After checking out the exhibition, we hopped over to Trinity Kitchen for some lunch. I had Pizzaluxe for the second time which confirmed that I love their pizza! The wedges are equally droolworthy.

I’ve been doing the 100 Happy Days challenge! Learn more about it here and follow me on instagram to see my posts.

I love this Cracked article about the roles men never play in movies.

 

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Leeds&me on tour: London

A couple of weekends ago I finally made it down to London to see my bestie Amy who’s at medical school there. It’s been a while since I saw her, and even longer since I’ve been to the Big Smoke, so we had a lot to do in two short days! We lazed on Clapham Common, ate great food at Bodean’s, avoided Wimbledon which was just down the road, gobbled crepes, walked along the Thames and even got a quick glimpse of Big Ben.

Ever since I saw this post on For Books’ Sake I’ve been dying to visit the Persephone bookshop in London. Persephone publish unloved, forgotten titles of the twentieth century, mainly written by women, and they sell them almost exclusively in their own shop. Each book has a matte silvery blue cover, lined with a different vintage print for each title, and you get a matching bookmark, too. Seriously, this place is like my spiritual home!

The books are £12 each and we’d just narrowed our selections down to 2 each when we spotted a small sign saying they were 3 for £30. Another book for half the price…rude not to! Then we’d finally picked a third one when the sales lady told us because we’d bought two or more books we could have a free cookbook! I picked one called Plats du Jour, which claimed to offer simple French and Italian dishes, and it’s already provided us with much hilarity. About the section on fungi: “This chapter has been written for people who combine an experimental approach to cooking with an interest in natural history.” For a salsa verde recipe: “Reduce the following ingredients to a molecular state using a heavy chopping knife or mezzaluna.” On poultry: “It should not be forgotten that a platter of oysters is the best prelude to roast goose.”

Next up was Covent Garden for crepes and gelato (from the amazing Venchi, which we fell in love with in Italy last year), a short break in St James’ Park then off to the Tate Modern, where I remembered how much I like Magritte and Picasso, and how much fun it is to flick my eyes across a row of masterpieces and instantly dismiss three of them because I don’t like the colours. You can do things like that in a place like the Tate Modern: there are so many incredible paintings, you can pretend they’re ten a penny and look down your nose at a few!

The gallery shop is always a bump back to earth, though, when I realise I can’t even afford the reproductions 🙂

Looking at the pictures I took, I was really drawn to steampunky cogs and wheels and interlocking geometrics.  Perhaps this means I like a sense of order and tidiness? (If this is true, it’s in my mind only, and definitely not in my house!)

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This lady is an opera singer who was performing in the lower courtyard at Covent Garden when we were there. She was amazing, and the acoustics were surprisingly good! The only downside was the man collecting donations for her – I assume he was on some kind of commission because he was very pushy and quite rude to some people who were just walking past and really not listening to her at all! I understand that the lady was there to make a living but as someone who also gets by thanks to tips, I accept that not everyone can afford to tip or feels comfortable doing so. Anyway the music was gorgeous, have a look at the singer’s website here.

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Featherweight Theatre’s The Red Tree

The Red Tree

There’s a first time for everything, and this week was the first time I saw a piece of theatre based on a picture book.

Featherweight Theatre have recreated Shaun Tan’s book, The Red Tree, using puppetry, mime, dance and a whole host of other little tricks that add up to a heartwarming, captivating experience. For a full hour, I felt mesmerised by the cast’s movement, the inventive props, the quirky soundtrack. Everyone has bad days, days where nothing goes right and everything feels like hard work and apathy takes over; I admired the way that Featherweight expressed those feelings wordlessly but still so articulately.

We watch The Girl, played expressively by Madeline Shann as she navigates a dark day in which she is thwarted at every turn. Everyone around her has it together. Everyone else knows who they are and where they are going but she feels lost and alone. It’s hard to describe the heartwrenching poignancy with which Featherweight bring Shaun Tan’s simple but never simplistic words to life: I felt genuinely moved. This performance could easily have been all about the visuals, which were gorgeous, but it had a big heart, too.

The clever use of props helps to create a storybook aesthetic. Little torches and a paper boat are used to show a storm at sea, Shaun Tan’s words are projected with paper stencils onto a screen, a huge sheet of thin plastic is the sea, then a jellyfish, then an eel, then a cage. It’s literally like watching the most elaborate popup book, where each page reveals a marvellous new scene just as delightful as the last. The whole process is witty and imaginative, and perfectly pitched at older children, who will love this.

I saw a preview of The Red Tree at Headingley Heart. The show will be playing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year. Featherweight are still raising funds for this so if you’ve seen The Red Tree or if you want to help them out, then take a look at this link.

Featherweight very kindly gave me a complimentary ticket to The Red Tree. However I donated the price of my ticket to their Edinburgh fundraising project.

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Sneaky Experience: 80’s edition

I’ve been following Sneaky Experience on Twitter for ages now and knew it was something I wanted to try. They screen secret films at secret locations with extra touches that add to the fun and make it more than just a pop up movie theatre. Their latest project, featuring cocktails, a roller disco and non-optional 80’s fancy dress, seemed like too much fun to miss out on so a group of us booked tickets and went along at the weekend.

Before any of their events, Sneaky will post a whole host of clues and instructions online, so you’ll want to connect with them on Twitter and Facebook. We had to choose one of three groups (opportunity, dreams or wellbeing), and were instructed to wear sunglasses and an ID badge ‘to easily identify fellow recruits.’ This, along with the fact we were greeted by military types in flight suits, tipped us off that the film would probably be Top Gun, and we were right!

The group we chose was opportunity, and it was definitely a good call. After being put through our paces outside, with salutes and marches, we were the first group allowed to get inside the venue, a TV studio on Kirkstall Road. This meant we were also the first ones to hit the bar! As everyone had had to make their way to the venue in broad daylight in various extremes of 80’s attire (I salute you, girl dressed as a Rubix Cube), there was an audible sigh of relief as we started sipping the cocktails expertly mixed by Twist Mixology.

Once I’d polished off my first Cosmo, I was ready to hit the roller disco! This was an absolute riot: I thought that despite having not touched a pair of skates in almost 20 years I would probably pick it up alright, but actually I was INCREDIBLY WRONG. Think Bambi times ten and you’re almost there! To add insult to injury, there were some blatant professionals whizzing around making me look even worse! I still had a great time though, despite my damaged pride, and I did avoid falling, which I’m chalking up as a personal victory.

Outside there was even more to do, with the Diamond Dogs hot dog van serving up great hot dogs (including one topped with pulled pork and one slathered in hot sauce and jalapeños), and The Marvellous Tea Dance Company selling retro sweets (Wham bars! Pink shrimps! Refreshers! Oh happy days) and cupcakes topped with flying saucers and the like. There was also a graffiti artist at work, a sale of retro video games and board games, and a volleyball court, as well as at various stages, actors in costume acting out scenes from Top Gun.

The film at this point seemed almost like a distraction from the fun, but nevertheless we settled in for the screening. I’d never seen it before, so wasn’t sure what to expect, but now I’ve watched it I appreciate what Sneaky do so much more! Top Gun is over the top and cheesy and the evening was matched with it perfectly. They always create an evening that’s perfectly in tune with the film, such as their screening of Nosferatu with live orchestra at Left Bank, or Indiana Jones at Temple Works. Every detail was chosen to complement the experience and make it a great night well worth the £12 or so ticket price. In that spirit, once the film finished the chairs were pushed aside and we danced the night away to 80’s classics.

I also loved the local slant put on the event. Enjoyed the roller disco? Hang on to the Leeds Roller Dolls leaflet on your chair. The food? From Yorkshire suppliers. The actors? Local volunteers. Crafts and art? From Leeds based artists. It was a triumph! We had a fantastic time and I’ve been telling everyone about it ever since. If you get chance to attend one of their events then don’t hesitate: they’re tons of fun. The night wasn’t perfect – I’d have loved shorter queues at the bar, for example, though the generous measures were right up my street – and there were a couple of technological hitches, but I say this purely in the spirit of honest feedback. Overall it’s a wonderful, unique experience and one that I’m sure will continue to get even better as it grows.
(Added bonus: I never got the Tom Cruise thing until watching Top Gun. The character’s a tool, but back in the day Tom really had it!)

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National Media Museum

I haven’t set foot in the National Media Museum since I was about 12, and it was just a museum of film and photography back then. We were there to see a film, and I recall only the sense of a cramped, narrow building, and a claustrophobically large cinema screen. My expectations when I was invited to a bloggers event there this week were, let’s say, limited.

It took about 15 seconds for me to realise I’d underestimated the place. I couldn’t say whether it was as I walked through the door set in the huge glass wall, as I was greeted at the entrance to a welcoming sofa area in the new cosy cafe bar, or as I tucked into the delicious flatbread pizza laid on for us along with countless varieties of salad and some perfectly gooey chocolate brownies, but at some point I checked myself, thinking, hang on: I need to take this place a bit more seriously!

After a drink and a nibble we headed up to have a look at a couple of the museum’s temporary exhibits.

Until 16th June, there’s an exhibition celebrating 100 years of Bollywood, and we were treated to a guided tour by Irna Qureshi, the curator and a real Bollywood expert. I learned so much in such a short time! Quite apart from the colourful, almost psychedelic aesthetic of the film posters themselves, this exhibition has a lot going for it. If, like me, you don’t know a lot about Bollywood I’d recommend using the intelligently placed QR codes which will fill you in on some background.

It was such a privilege to hear from Irna. Among other things, she told us that Bollywood films are often known in India as masala films, because they contain a little of each of the spices of life, and that when it comes to these films, nothing matters so much as the cast. Often real life couples are a huge box office draw, because people want to see them together, and the stars can reach a stratospheric level of fame. It’s estimated that one third of the world’s population know who actor Shahrukh Khan is, despite his relative obscurity here, and chances are you will have heard of Amitabh Bachchan, Bollywood patriarch, or perhaps his daughter in law, Aishwarya Rai.

Sometimes I feel dizzy in a kind of excited way when I think about all the things I don’t know about. It was so humbling to get a snapshot into this world, so similar to and simultaneously so different from Hollywood and the Western film industry. If you want to learn more, I cannot recommend Irna’s blog, Bollywood in Britain enough: she tells the story of her upbringing as a British Asian in Bradford using her favourite Bollywood films and songs to illustrate the story. It’s compelling stuff so stay tuned for the next instalment!

Pakeezah: one of Irna's favourites

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After the Bollywood exhibit was a rather different kettle of fish, as the museum’s Press Officer Emily Philippou introduced us to the photography of Tom Wood, who has been taking pictures of the general public for over 40 years. Considering the extent of his work, it was a bit of a surprise that this is his first UK retrospective.

The pictures were primarily taken in Liverpool, Tom’s home for many of those years, and they do boast a certain grim, Northern aspect. But there’s warmth and life oozing from every one of these shots, many taken without the knowledge of the subjects and all a tribute to the drudgery and the whimsy and the joy and the misery of day to day life.

The candid shots are the draw for most people, I think, but for me it’s the portraits among Tom’s earlier work that fascinate. His subjects, almost always strangers he approaches on the street, stare unflinchingly forward, and the lens finds their gaze without fail. The result is an uncomfortable sense of looking further into someone’s eyes than you’d like to, and of being unable to stop.

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The two exhibits couldn’t look more different at first glance, but in reality they both deal with a difficult topic – what it means to be human – from strikingly dissimilar angles.

Many of you are probably aware by now that the future of the National Media Museum is in jeopardy, along with that of York’s Railway Museum and the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry. You can read more about this at the BBC, at the Guardian and especially in the Telegraph and Argus.

This feels especially heartbreaking to me now, because I feel like I only just discovered it again. On Monday night I fell in love with the National Media Museum and I just can’t face it being taken away. It’s a beautiful, engaging, inclusive space, and you just don’t see enough of those around any more. I feel so angry. Angry that such a precious resource might be taken away from us, angry about this prevailing attitude that the North should bend over backwards to protect London’s interests, angry that the community of Bradford should have to fear this loss.

If you feel angry too, then please, please do something about it. Go visit this weekend, sign this petition, write to your MP, tell your friends or neighbours.

Don’t forget too that other cities are facing similar threats. You can sign petitions supporting all of the museums within the Science Museum Group here.

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Gatsby: rebooted


Great Gatsby Baz Luhrmann

Apparently I’m living proof that advertising works. As someone who’s completely apathetic about both The Great Gatsby and Baz Luhrmann, and actually most films, I shouldn’t care less about the new Gatsby film, but since I saw the trailer and realised how well cast and visual it looked, I’ve been hankering to go see it.

Honestly, I wasn’t disappointed! Visually this film is absolutely stunning: the party scenes are as wild and debauched as anyone could wish for, the houses are grand to the point of obscenity and the costumes are fabulously lush. Leo is absolutely fantastic as Gatsby, giving a nuanced, elusive performance that got me much more on side with him as a character than I am with the literary verson. It’s a shame we don’t see more of Isla Fisher, but Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker was a pleasant surprise for me. Carey Mulligan delivers as always with an indecisive, rather weak Daisy, and Tobey Maguire is just perfect as the gauche Nick Carraway, the narrator who is never really part of the events around him.

The narrative is largely faithful, leaving very little out. The story is told well and there are moments of humour and intensity that thrill and surprise. The chemistry between Daisy and Gatsby is electric, and in the scenes when they first met again, there was a passion and fire that I always felt was missing in the novel. On the other hand, though, the directing and the script lack any subtlety at all, and the things that Fitzgerald hints at or guides the reader towards are spoon fed to the audience, often multiple times. If you must baldly state these delicate nuances, at least respect your audience enough to only say it the once, right? I did find myself rolling my eyes a bit at this, but not to the point that it spoiled my enjoyment.

There’s also a queer device used whereby Nick is telling the story of Gatsby from the refuge of a rehab centre in 1929, as therapy. I didn’t feel it added anything to the story and would rather have seen that screen time spent with some of the more interesting characters since these scenes were less than compelling.

I’m being picky, though. I loved the film, really. The first half was like going to one of Gatsby’s huge parties, a fascinating trip through the twenties with great music and illegal booze and everyone who’s everyone, and the second half was like the hungover breakfast the next day, sharing the gossip, cleaning up messes and dealing with the fallout. Fascinating.

We went to see this at the new Everyman cinema in Trinity Leeds, so expect a blog post on that soon! (Spoiler: loved it.)

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Joss Arnott Dance’s Dark Angel Tour

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The New Realities project by Dep Arts, designed to attract new audiences to contemporary dance across Yorkshire, recently brought Joss Arnott Dance to the Stanley and Audrey Burton theatre to perform their Dark Angel tour. As I’ve seen a few Phoenix Dance and other shows there, and really like it as a venue, I leapt at the chance to go and enjoy the performance last week.

In a lovely local touch, the curtain raiser was a piece choreographed by Arnott and danced by students from Leeds City College. They all did brilliantly well, in particular the young man who opened and closed the performance, although I must apologise – I can’t name check him as I don’t have a list of the dancers!

The Dark Angel Tour proper is three pieces, opening with Origin. This was danced by Arnott himself and was unquestionably my highlight of the night. It’s a short piece but completely enthralling: I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the stage. Arnott travels to the limits of what his body can do, contorting and gyrating as a pool of light slowly spread across the stage. He assumes unexpected, uncomfortable positions but maintains a fluid movement and makes the whole thing look completely effortless. The overall effect is mesmerising and I wasn’t surprised to hear a buzz of excitement in the seats around me as the curtain fell. Of the whole showcase, this is the piece that has stayed with me over the past week, as I remember the strange, unconventional beauty of the movements and the scene.

The next two pieces were danced by the all female company. It’s hard not to group 24 and Threshold together in my mind as I felt they shared very similar aesthetics and even themes. They both explore the female body and beauty in an incredibly dynamic, aggressive and powerful way, using tribal beats and violence and darkness. There are beautiful solos and glorious duets but the company was at its best when everyone was moving in perfect, mind numbing unison to the persistent beat of an invisible drum. To call it watchable is a huge understatement: it was hypnotising. Where Origin is about introspection and our relationship with ourselves, 24 and Threshold seem to be more interested in society’s relationship with our bodies and the way we interact with each other.

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A real wow factor for me was the physicality of the dancers. They did some incredible contortions, jumps and flips, sometimes leaping into the air and landing on their knees without any suggestion that it might have been difficult or painful, while the audience visibly flinched. It was amazing to watch and the young dance students sat near me were absolutely gobsmacked! It was so lovely watching them be inspired by dancers who are living their dreams: I only hope that funding cuts or a lack of support for dance don’t stand in the way of this next generation.

The Dark Angel Tour by Joss Arnott Dance will be at the Wakefield Theatre Royal on 11th May 2013 and Barnsley Civic on 1st June 2013.

I was given a free ticket for this event.

Images courtesy of Dep Arts and Joss Arnott Dance

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