Preview: Dance Umbrella 2012 @ Central St Martins

Nigel Charnock's "Haunted by the Future"

In past years Dance Umbrella has been a sprawling beast of a festival dominating the dance calendar across the city. This year, however, thanks to (in spite of?) funding cuts, it’s conveniently condensed into ten compact days of brave new dance at the new Platform Theatre venue at Central Saint Martins, Kings Cross. Here are our highlights:

Take in a spot of dance history, in the shape of Fabian Barba’s A Mary Wigman Dance Evening. Reconstructing the early work of one of contemporary dance’s key founders, Mary Wigman, Barba transplants it onto a male body and explores the tensions this creates. Check out how innovatively modern the movement still is to this day.

Duo Thoma Hauert and Scott Heron present Like More Like Me. This work considers the smallest, most emotional form of human connection, “twoness”. They playfully search for completeness in their finely executed way, with more than a dash of peculiarity and whippet-like movement.

For the sheer joy of form; witness a kind of kaleidoscope of movement in Electric Midwife by Beth Gill — a performance of symmetry and a feast for the eyes.

The charismatic Wendy Houston brings a solo that’s grand in its scope and fine in its detail. Absurd yet very wise, 50 Acts retaliates against ageism with random acts, ghostly appearances, small dances and some lovely big ideas.

The festival is dedicated to the memory of Gill Clarke who died in 2011 and Nigel Charnock, who died in August this year. Charnock’s final completed work, Haunted by the Future, is a witty, deeply touching showcase of his style — pedestrian movement and tangible emotion, mixed with strong physicality and sudden moments of lush dancing.

Outside the studio there are two site specific works. A group of performers who have memorised a book of their choice will become a collection of living books for 1:1, bookable encounters in Time Has Fallen Asleep in the Afternoon Sunshine at Islington Central Library. This is a very rare chance to watch well-known choreographers up (very) close.

Rosemary’s Lee’s Melt Down will captivate and/or bemuse an al fresco audience in and around Granary Square. Performed for the first time last year under a tree in Brunswick Square, this is an arresting and absorbing spectacle involving 30 men (free to watch).

Looking for something unusual? Check out The Host:

Dance Umbrella takes place at Central St Martins, Kings Cross Friday 5 – Sunday 14 October. Most tickets £8, installations free. Book online with Eventbrite.

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