Jump to content

Locked Down. Locked In. But Living. - Commissioned by Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield

Recommended Posts

A couple of months ago I got an email from Northern Ballet inviting me to book for a streamed performance at Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield.  The description of the performance was:


"Locked down. Locked in. But living is a world-premiere triple bill of dance commissioned by the Lawrence Batley Theatre and choreographed by Jordan James Bridge (dancer, Studio Wayne McGregor), Daniel de Andrade (Artistic Associate, Northern Ballet) and Gary Clarke (Artistic Director, Gary Clarke Company)."


Of course I booked.  I had a choice of dates and times to book and when you get your time-slot you have 48 hours in which to watch the performance.


If I am honest I was quite surprised by the commission as the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield is not known as a hotbed of dance activity.


I have only been to the Lawrence Batley Theatre once - about 15 months ago - to see Northern Ballet's Puss in Boots.  It's a gorgeous place to visit - the building (which did not start life as a theatre) is set in a courtyard of elegant Victorian architecture.


The photographs are ones I took last year. IMG_4135.thumb.jpeg.2c8064b5a6535f844e4b7b85be953396.jpeg


The three choreographers were given full access to the whole theatre and the courtyard.


Jordan James Bridge of Company Wayne McGregor choreographed a solo - Locked Down - for Izzac Carroll.  Starting on the stage the edgy and tightly filmed movements give a feeling of claustrophobia and desperation.  Suddenly the screen is filled with an inspirational quote and we are then in the outside courtyard where the choreography flows and makes gorgeous use of the space.  There is less a feeling of claustrophobia but we sense the dancer is still locked down.  Ultimately we are left with a feeling of hope for the future.


As this segment fades away with a "thank you for watching" and the credits the music for Northern Ballet's piece starts.  Daniel de Andrade, for Locked In, uses 4 dancers for his piece and they start in the courtyard.




As the four dancers are moving you suddenly realise that 8 more dancers are appearing - clones of the four really dancing!  I think that of the three works this one makes full and best use of filming technique.


The dancers are in street clothes and shoes and mirror each other.  Suddenly the film is in black and white and the dancers have the appearance of being dragged backwards by an unseen force into the building, along corridors, up staircases and eventually onto the stage.  On the stage Sean Bates and Mlindi Kulashe are dancing with what looks like a sheet.  Sean is wrapped up in the sheet.  When he unwraps himself he is wearing a unitard and ballet shoes.  As the other dancers reappear they are also in more conventional ballet attire.  There follows a sequence of solos and duets and sometimes all 4 dancers are on stage again.  Eventually the colour returns to the film and the dancers disappear through windows at the back of the stage perhaps signifying that there is an eventual escape from the restrictions of the pandemic.


As the credits role we move onto Gary Clarke's piece But Living.




But Living is shot almost entirely in black and white and has the feel of an early 20th century film with occasional screen cards appearing with statements.  It sort of reminded me of Alice down a rabbit hole as a dancer dressed as a white rabbit appears from time to time seeming to direct the action.  The action is frenetic and claustrophobic perhaps showing isolation and loneliness.  It is largely a solo for Gavin Coward who throws himself around the stage, corridors and the rather gorgeous spiral staircase.  He seems to be trying to escape and eventually he comes into the courtyard and as he walks to the gates, opens them and walks through I was left with a feeling of hope and optimism for the future.


For me, Locked In worked best out of the three works but perhaps it is a combination of the fact that the dancers (Matthew Topliss and the always gorgeous Sarah Chun as well as Sean and Mlindi) are familiar to me and it is also the most balletic of the pieces.  I also think the way the film was put together was very clever.


In conclusion it was a great move on the part of the Lawrence Batley Theatre to commission these works and I really enjoyed my evening at the ballet.  This evening of ballet is available for booking (the tickets are £12) until 18th October so you have still got a chance to book.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...