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Phoenix Dance Theatre- Particle Velocity bill

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Sharon Watson, artistic director of Phoenix, launched her new programme at West Yorkshire Playhouse on Wednesday with four brand new dance pieces. The overall title of the programme, Particle Velocity, continues the curious fashion for claiming dance's ability to explain science. This is represented by Sharon's own dance, the final piece in the programme, Repetition of Change, which is apparently supposed to demonstrate how DNA works. However, it is necessary to have read the programme carefully to realise this as the cast sheet, which most members of the audience relied on, only listed details of dancers, choreography and music. For me, the music was a put off, a pity as it is a specially commissioned score (Kenneth Hesketh), played live. There are unusual special effects and varied choreography, which Sharon said at the post performance talk on Thursday had involved significant input from the dancers themselves for their solos.

Another piece that required viewers to consult the programme was KI, by Jose Agudo to Vinz. This solo apparently  represents the rise of Genghis Khan! It starts off very slowly but then builds up to an amazing crescendo of visceral movement. A real tour de force for Josh Wille, one wonders how he was able to learn such a complex piece and where he gets such energy from.

Douglas Thorpe produces a duet, Tender Crazy Love, to a range of popular music, including Nancy Sinatra, danced with great emotion by Sandrine Monin and Phil Sanger, a compelling performer. Intended to represent the different phases of a romantic relationship, it seemed bitty, perhaps due to the different types of music and the pauses between them.

The opening piece is a rare work by Richard Alston for a company other than his own. A lovely piece, to Ravel's Sonata for Violin and Cello, less florid than much of Ravel's work, it is a mixture of solos duets and an especially fine trio.  

This quadruple bill is varied and well balanced and the dancers are very good, musical, controlled, expressive, with strong technique.

The company will be undertaking a national tour, including Liverpool, Nottingham, Worthing, Malvern, amongst other venues. They are well worth seeing.

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I was at this performance on Thursday too and agree fully with SheilaC. It is 12 months since I last watched Phoenix and there have been some changes. Sharon is building a strong company of talented dancers and I thought there were some exceptional performances.

Josh Wille is always a pleasure to watch and without a shirt, well.......what is there to say?! :-))))

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