As The Limelight Club, it once played host to the likes of Duran Duran, Boy George and Bob Geldof. But the otherwise disused Welsh chapel on Shaftesbury Avenue now houses another eclectic assembly: The New Movement Collective. With a mix of new-generation ballet and contemporary dance, the anomalous group takes over the church’s three floors of old spiralling staircases and hidden rooms with an interactive, multi-media performance called The Nest, loosely based on Homer’s epic poem Odyssey.
The oddities begin before the show even starts: flasks are given to everyone to wear around their neck (complete with drink of choice). You're then guided to a specific part of the nave, where the 10 performers re-enact the brutal fighting of the Trojan Wars. Dancers scuttle around inside giant cages like spiders trapped in a glass. It’s an impressive start – one that clearly highlights the performers’ esteemed backgrounds at Rambert and The Royal Ballet.
The adventure, however, truly begins once the audience is sent off in different directions. This is also the part where the show’s plot becomes irrelevant, instead focussing on the senses. From the ominous music to the smoke-filled rooms with laser-like strobes – it feels more like a haunted house than Odysseus’s journey back home. Each area portrays a fragment of the story with beautifully choreographed segments. Dancers weave in and around the crowd beneath painted murals. And keep an eye out for the playful pigs.
The show ends with a more traditional dance finale that once again boasts impressive work from lighting technology specialists Marshmallow Laser Feast and music curators Christopher Mayo and Anna Meredith, whose music has been used at London Fashion Week, Last Night of the Proms and even flashmob performances in the M6 Services.
It's a bold attempt from award-winning dancer Jonathan Goddard and the rest of the team at New Movement Collective. Something that is worth checking out not only for the intricate staging and performances but also for the chance to venture through the historic building that once acted as a playground to the rebellious rockers in the hedonistic 80s. New arts organisation Stone Nest plans to turn the church into a permanent experimental space with hopes to make the venue once again a mainstay on arts and culture calendars.
Final two performances are this Tuesday July 23 and Wednesday July 24 at 7.00pm. Tickets are £19.80 / £15 concessions. Purchase tickets in advance at www.newmovement.org.uk or one hour prior to performance (cash only).
NEST will also be exhibited as an installation from September 10-20 at Testbed 1, 33 Parkgate Road, Battersea, London SW11 4NP. Check out the web-site nearer the time for further details.