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Kenneth Tindall - Children of the Mantic Stain; Kit Holder - Wolves are People Too

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I've been meaning to post about these two productions for a while; sorry my posting is so late in the day.


Kenneth Tindall's Children of the Mantic Stain was his second collaboration with the artist Linder Sterling and it featured a rug tufted at the Dovecot Galleries in Edinburgh,  Kenneth used seven dancers from Northern Ballet in the piece.  I was fortunate to see the dress rehearsal at Quarry Hill last Autumn and jumped at the chance to see a performance at the Dovecot Galleries.  The Galleries were a public baths and provided an extraordinary  performance space.  At ground level there was a row of seats right around the dance floor and people could view from the gallery above too.  It was a packed house.


What was good about seeing it in the gallery space was that the seven dancers just appeared and disappeared from within the crowd.  There is a large, mainly red, patterned rug in the middle of the floor.  The dancers dance around it and on it and fondle it.  The commissioned score has sections that are jagged or lyrical or disco and the choreography matches the music.  It turns out that the rug is a spiral that can be unravelled and it is eventually draped around the incomparable Hannah Bateman as she is carried off.  The costumes are best described as de-constructed sports-ware.  For example Nicola Gervasi was wearing what seemed to be a straight-forward track-suit top but when he turned around there was no back in it.  His trousers were similarly constructed.


It was a mesmerising piece and I am so glad I got to see it in a gallery setting which really added to the atmosphere.  The rug is part of a travelling exhibition and the following day I went to see it in place in the British Art Show 8 exhibition.  It is truly a fabulous rug and I would very nearly kill to own one like it!



Kit Holder collaborated with composer and leader of jazz combo Hansu Tori, David Austen Grey and illustrator Nick Robertson to create Wolves Are People Too, Kit's first full evening work.  This is a narrative work that tells of a human/wolf family.  The mother is human and the father is wolf and the children have the characteristics of both.


The costumes are incredibly simple but effective.  The father and children have parkas that have fur edged hoods - it makes them remarkably lupine.  We see the happy family and the children in school then the father goes out to work and never comes back.  We see the mother getting the news that he has died by the simple device of her being given the parka he had been wearing.  The children have to make their own choice as to whether to develop their human or wolf side.


The band plays on stage and the illustrator sits in a corner of the stage.  His drawings start to appear on a giant screen at the back of the stage.  One of the band members acts as a teacher in the first schoolroom scene and the illustrator in the second schoolroom scene.


Kit used five BRB dancers for the production and I thought it was a delight.  Lachlan Monaghan had a beautiful rapport as the father with Ruth Brill who was incandescent as the Mother.  Her duet with the parka was incredibly moving, such beautiful choreography that kept it moving rather than becoming twee.  I cannot deny that I had a tear in my eye at the end of the first act.


The school room scenes used stillness very effectively as the children are being taught and as Laura Day starts becoming attracted to fellow pupil Max Maslen.


In act 2 you see the children wrestling with their future.  Lewis Turner was fabulous as he decided to go with his wolf side.  Laura develops her human side with her relationship with Max (another delightful duet).


For me, this production marks a significant move forward for Kit as a choreographer.  I have particularly enjoyed some of his shorter pieces for BRB - Small Worlds, 9-5 and Quatrain - and now he has shown that he can develop and carry a narrative too.


It's great to see these two choreographers developing their styles in such an engaging and enjoyable way.  I can't wait to see Kenneth Tindall's Casanova next year!




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