One element of the ongoing Circus Street redevelopment is creation of The Dance Space, a community venue that will be South East Dance’s new home once it launches next year. In the meantime, we can all enjoy the second iteration of Our City Dances, an annual free festival designed to ‘whet the city’s appetite’ for the kind of work one can expect from The Dance Space.
Brighton-based dancer and choreographer Anna Alvarez is involved in two shows in the two-day festival. Wheelchair Tango, an Argentinian tango duet – featuring music from Hofesh Shechter Company composer Sabio Janiak – came about after Anna met Mehmet Arik from the Wheelchair Dance Project in Turkey. A workshop and performance by Alvarez and Arik will take place at Brooke Mead (30th, 3pm), a council housing scheme which enables people with dementia to carry on living independently. “Anybody can go to the workshop and performance, they’re completely open. I’m a standing dancer and Mehmet is a seated dancer. The workshops cater for both, and we will be making the workshop very accessible to the residents there.”
Alvarez is also arranging Romeo and Juliet, which is inspired by a few scenes from the first act, when the lovers meet at a masquerade ball. “It’s about feuding families and a disparity between generations, the elders deciding what the young people should be doing. I wanted to use that echo of what’s going on in the country now, so the project is very much a collaboration with the young people at Brighton Youth Centre (BYC).” Alvarez hopes that she can surprise audiences with a modern twist on the classic romance that explores the rebellious nature of youth – “about what people want to do and what they’re told to do” – through working with young people from BYC directly. The final piece will be performed in both Jubilee Square (30th, 12pm) and Tarner Park (30th, 1pm), and is also supported by Mandinga Arts, who will be facilitating workshops with Brighton Youth Centre on making masks for the show. “We don’t want to use the aesthetic of Elizabethan masks because that has a set type, we want to see the more Latin American side. They’re going to be a little bit mythical, probably brightly coloured and quite large.”Elsewhere at Our City Dances, there will be over 15 workshops and events to take part in (ranging from hula hooping to a Charleston-inspired Ceilidh) at Tarner Park on Sat 29th.
On Sun 30th, professional dance commissions will be performed around the city, including Without Touch at BYC, where audiences are asked to close their eyes and to experience the dance through their other senses (2.15pm & 4.30pm). Zoo Humans at Jubilee Square meanwhile, features parkour dance in an alternate reality in which humans have forgotten to move, inspired by the fact that a third of the UK’s young people spend less time outdoors than its prisoners (1.15pm & 5pm).
June 29-30, southeastdance.org.uk