This year’s LUDanS show marked their fifth annual performance, and what a performance it was! As the society’s President, Emily Pollitt rightly said the aptly named ‘Centre Stage’ is the celebration of a massively successful year for the society. They were the most placed university at ‘Durham Dance Fusion’ and returned from the Manchester Dance Competition with four trophies under their belts, including first position for their Advanced Tap routine. The performance showcased an impressive array of talent spanning across the Ballet, Jazz, Street, Tap and Contemporary disciplines. If you bought a ticket hoping to see lively and vibrant performances, it was certainly money well spent. The Advanced Tap girls opened the show spectacularly with an animated group number set to Outkast’s ‘Hey Ya’. What was obvious to me from the outset of the show was that these girls clearly love what they do. They performed with gusto and completely engaged the audience from the moment the lights came up. They let us know what we were in for and we liked where it was going.
Each performance displayed original and impressive choreography. If any of the dancers found it tough it went unnoticed, on the contrary their precision, enthusiasm and energy never faltered once throughout. The Advanced Ballet routine choreographed by Laura Carroll stood out to me as exceptional. The dance told the story of a teacher and her pupils and was set to The Script’s ‘Hall of Fame’. The group was split up into various sections whose interweaving routines provided an impressive backdrop to the teacher, who gently nurtured individual dancers in the foreground to reveal their true potential.
The Street troupes also wowed with clever and demanding choreography. One of their routines, devised by Beth Hallett, involved a girl being lifted up in simulation of a Mission Impossible style heist (with a pair of gold trainers as the loot); it was an absolute showstopper. As alarm sirens sounded, the light hearted comedy was instantly juxtaposed with some downright serious attitude. As the girls slammed their fists to the stage at the end of the routine and the lights went down, the audience were thinking one thing and one thing only… “DAYYYUM.”
The Street performances, together with Tap and Jazz numbers gave the audience a thrill with their energy and pizzazz but some of the most enjoyable moments for me were the more delicate and thought provoking pieces. The One Billion Rising duet, choreographed and performed by Jenny Tait and Charlotte Rutherford was a beautiful dance that explored some of the issues that were raised and contested in the university’s recent production of The Vagina Monologues. The natural talent of these two dancers is undeniable; the raw emotion they expressed through their performance made it a spectacle that, in all its simplicity, was truly moving.
Another moving performance, for me the performance of the night, was the Contemporary routine choreographed by Siana French. The bold spotlighting intermittently illuminated the dancers who, using the American flag as a prop, began the routine to the sound of a few rousing words from Barack Obama. As his words faded into Pink’s ‘Dear Mr President’, the dancers moved without inhibition, mirroring the candidness of the song’s lyrics. The passion and ‘let loose’ nature of this dance was recurrent throughout the show, noticeably in the Contemporary dance set to The XX, the entertaining ‘Through the Decades’ mash-up that opened the second half and the seriously impressive solo choreographed and performed by Emily McMillan, set to Joss Stone’s ‘A Man’s World’.
It was this sense of losing your inhibitions that resonated with me after the show’s finale, which saw the entire cast unite and perform a fun and punchy rendition of ‘You Can’t Stop the Beat’ from the musical ‘Hairspray’. For me, what made the show so enjoyable to watch was seeing how much the dancers genuinely enjoyed performing. They never held back for one moment, their enthusiasm pushing their bodies to the limit, producing stunning results.