Stopgap Dance Company presents…




On the 6th March 2017 Stopgap Dance Company performed their work ‘The Enormous Room’. The piece opened with the imaginative and well-structured scenery in place, giving the audience a sense of both the performance to begin and the forming of characters portrayed. The performer’s movement was extraordinary, showing fluidity, control and a stunning use of dynamics. A variety of diverse positions were further performed on and around the structure/scenery. This allowed for a vast amount of character building thus allowing for the audience to really connect with the work. The scenery was complex and intriguing allowing for a symbolic touch, giving the dancers a strong connection with the loss of Jackie, their wife and mother. The loss and grief became apparent through different emotions, showing the daughter (Sam) and the father (Dave) to initially react differently to the death of Jackie. The young Sam is shown to become searching and playful with another character within the performance, an outside male named Tom. The duets performed are beautifully executed, allowing for a striking sense of balance and release. The father can be seen to grieve the loss more internally, allowing his head to rest in his hands, shutting away and closing doors to the outside world. An emotional and moving portrayal of the loss of a loved one.

The enormous room showed connection with theme, movement, vocals and evocative text. The superb movement took the audience beyond the point of reality and moved them between worlds. The uplifting and emotional positions created movement that empowered the audience, giving them a great sense of attachment to the piece. The performance incorporated a platform of pioneering movement styles that portrayed emotions and thoughtfulness. The performers moved seamlessly between each other, giving a gathering and cohesive performance. A beautifully natural work with honest intentions, the vocals were well rehearsed and perfectly spoken, giving the audience further connection towards the sentiments and passion behind the work created.

“The mirrors are to reflect us and the walls are to contain us” this being spoken by Dave, the father. This highlighting the father’s new perspective of the room and how the loss has changed him emotionally. The writing being displayed on the frame-less walls of the set, giving the bare walls a sense of purpose. The removal of all visible memories, the torment in which must have greatly impacted their lives. The mother’s soul still remains within the house, within their thoughts. This can be portrayed by two women, one being the mother, the other the wife. Their movement accurately parallel and in perfect unison. There was a sense of truthfulness and natural progression in their movement, it allowed for a narrative to be born. Moving in unison, however still remaining within their roles as a mother and a wife to their husband and daughter. The use of scenery as a prop to entwine and wrap around really created an original and innovative piece of work. The dancers incorporated a sense of embodiment and purpose. Further progression of the separate roles portrayed by the mothers became apparent when in contact with the daughter, showing a differing relationship, a stroke of the cheek, a brush of the hair. This movement was subtle but apparent and really helped to further their roles and gave stronger connections for the audience to relate and respond to.

The positioning within space gave a supreme parallel as the two portrayals of Jackie moved delicately and precisely through the space. This gave a moving approach to the performance, creating a sense of passing time. A simple but symbolic technique that accurately represented the devastation of their loss and Jackie’s ability to remain with them in their home. Time is a clear representation of happenings throughout this piece. It can be seen through a variety of techniques, one being the parents meeting for the first time. The place in which it all began, a change in music and therefore a change in atmosphere. In time, the light and happy scene soon begins to diminish as the dancers begin to fall and collapse in the space. A sense of the passing time and illness baring down on them. Father and wife connect in duet movement that moves across the floor, beautifully controlled and connected. A conversation begins with their bodies as they respond to each other, inviting the audience in.

A section within the performance shows Tom, his naked back facing the audience. The movement was contorted and jerky, giving a controlled and powering sense of movement and symbolism. The dancers move in and out of the cupboards, giving a sense of differing locations within the space.

As the scenery began to move and take a different form, although a little clumsy at times, the transformation was nicely developed. The movement that progressed throughout the performance from duet to group work portrayed perfect and original contact work that had the audience mesmerized. The weight distribution and balance moving around the enormous room was fabulously executed with ease and determination. The choreography was beautiful to watch and it really gave a sense of the company working together. Although the theme of the piece is sad and of a depressing nature some humour became apparent though the performance. A character, Chock, gave a lightened and lifted performance in times of need. I feel at times some movement became a little too intense and created a lack of connection to the theme. The Enormous Room was a fabulous performance, giving a beautiful and accurate response to loss. The piece had balance and a good level of a variety of techniques to create specific connections and emotions.

We thank Stopgap for their fantastic performance within the LEAP Dance Festival and look forward to new works created by the company. It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to watch this performance, it showed an enormous amount of talent and connection as both individuals and as a company.






MDI presents…



On the 5th March 2017, I had the pleasure of attending the Community Showcase offering a vibrant and fun atmosphere at the Make Warehouse. The fabulous showcase presented a variety of works allowing for many companies and local communities to come together showing a good sense of commitment and collaboration.

With multiple song choices and colourful costumes the performers dazzled the audience with their enthusiasm, technique and obvious joy for the art form that is dance. Throughout the afternoon we had the opportunity to enjoy 11 different dance groups performing an assortment of works on a variation of themes. With pupils, students and children from around Liverpool, this really was a production that offered a together and cohesive feel. The audience cheered and got involved as they clapped performances throughout, giving further inspiration and a sense of community. Further interaction also took place within the interactive spaces offered at LEAP, allowing the audience and performers to engage with the space and communicate with friends and family.

Within the performance we had the chance to welcome ‘Merseyside Youth Dance Company’, exploring the stereotypes of women. The performers executed the work with confidence and through vocals gave a true and inspirational touch on the theme through a personal perspective. The sound was enjoyable and the performers used style and creativity when performing. It was a pleasure to welcome the company to the LEAP Dance Festival 2017.

We further greeted ‘Unlock the Box’ by ‘Movema’s youth dance project’, offering a delightful and cheerful performance. The company worked well as a team and showed a great sense of community as they worked together. The performance was beautiful and really allowed us to engage with the performance. The movement was creative and the space was used widely. We thank ‘Movema’ for their fantastic work and for performing at the LEAP Dance festival 2017.

Next we welcomed to the space ‘Knowsley Community College’ looking at their individuality on the theme ‘Camouflage: Seen and Unseen’. This led to further discussion about camouflage within society. The company performed an accurate piece, keeping in precise formation and showing a great sense of team work. The staccato movement was clean and showed fabulous timing and position within the space. An excellent technique performed showing an accurate performance. We thank ‘Knowsley Community College’ for their sharing of work within the LEAP Dance Festival 2017.

The next performance came from the ‘House of Suarez’, a piece called ‘No T and no Shade’.  The performance was fabulously executed and gave a powerful sense, showing a call and response technique that was beautifully implemented. The vogue movement was clear and clean, a pleasure to watch and a strong performance. We thank ‘House of Suarez for their wonderful performance within the LEAP Dance Festival 2017.

Performing next was the ‘MDI Open Contemporary’ class, taking the theme of seek and find. The group used great music that gave a splendid touch to the performance, allowing the audience to move along. The movement scooped across the space as the dancers showed a cluster form that portrayed accuracy and good spatial awareness. The patterns executed were grand and powerful within the performance. We thank the ‘MDI Open Cotemporary class for sharing their wonderful work within the LEAP Dance Festival 2017.

Next on stage was the ‘MDI Dance Stars’, taking time in rehearsals to brainstorm ideas and representing a variety of wild animals, the dancers gave a fantastic performance. The performance was playful and energetic, really helping to show and portray their theme. They were all a delight to watch perform and it was lovely to see such young children performing within the LEAP Dance Festival. The movement was tremendous and showed some great spatial awareness as the dancers moved around the space. We thank the ‘MDI Dance Stars’ for their participation within the LEAP Dance Festival 2017.

‘C.O.L.C Male Dance Company’ performed their piece “…and”, that reflected their diverse personalities and identities. This was clearly shown throughout the performance as their movement style developed and changed. The movement was clever and well-rehearsed giving a very much enjoyable performance. The movement was executed beautifully with constant connection to the theme and movement portrayed. The dancers were professional and a cohesive company was very much shown. The performance incorporated contact work which was refreshing and nice to see within the work. We thank C.O.L.C Male Dance Company for their sharing of the work within the LEAP Dance Festival 2017.

Next we welcomed to the space ‘MDI Beginners Contemporary’ exploring the idea of homeless people, sleeping rough in and around Liverpool. The theme was beautifully portrayed, giving an opening of the public walking across the space, showing little interest for the homeless man. This was a nice touch that gave a simplistic but elegant approach that showed the theme creatively and with accuracy. The performers were controlled and connected well with the theme, showing good use of the space and well executed movement. The music was also beautifully chosen that offered further emotion, we thank ‘MDI Beginners Contemporary’ for their performance within the LEAP Dance Festival 2017.

The next performers were the ‘Open Ballet’, telling the story of a young soldier. The performance was narrative based, showing a beautifully elegant performance with stunning sound. The movement was executed with grace and the company performed with confidence and assurance. The costumes were nicely thought out and the movement transitions were smooth throughout. The technique was nicely portrayed and really gave a sense of passion towards both the style of movement and the theme. The ending was perfect, showing simplicity but thought, and gave a mature and natural response to the theme. We thank ‘Open Ballet’ for their elegant contribution to the LEAP Dance Festival 2017.

The community show further had the pleasure of welcoming ‘Riddim N Roots Group’ performing their collaborative work on the changing and development of the butterfly. This was very much shown through the group’s colourful costumes and up beat sound. This gave a lively and fun feel to the show. The performance was beautifully received with jolting movement that had the audience moving along. The dancer’s attitude and performance skills were fabulous, giving a real sense of community, fun and joyfulness. The group were cohesive and worked well together, we thank ‘Riddim N Roots’ for their energetic and animated performance within the LEAP Dance Festival 2017.

Finally, we welcomed ‘LIPA Sixth Form College’ to the space, performing a duet inspired by the contemporary work Rosas danst Rosas by Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker. The piece was wonderful, showing both inspiration and collaboration. The movement was accurate and executed precisely with good dynamic changes and a continuous flow of energy throughout the performance. The dancers were confident and portrayed a natural attachment to both movement and the space. A beautiful performance. We thank ‘LIPA Sixth Form College’ for their participation in the LEAP Dance Festival 2017.

We thank all the companies for taking part within the LEAP Dance Festival 2017, and celebrate another successful and beautifully performed show. The afternoon was well received and we thank you all for your support. #makemeLEAP

WHITEOUT by Barrowland Ballet

Barrowland Ballet presents WHITEOUT

By choreographer and director Natasha Gilmore

The Barrowland Ballet Company performed WHITEOUT on Saturday 4th March 2017. A beautifully symbolic performance about Gilmore’s personal experiences of marriage and motherhood of bi-racial children and the complexities of relationships. WHITEOUT presents an elegant touch on such an important and strong subject, allowing for honesty and some humour. Gilmore talks about her change in responsibilities as a parent and how becoming aware of her children’s ethnicity effected choices made. Original roles were created by the dancers, this could be seen through their individuality within the performance. This depicted by both the music and their movement style. However, at times using a refreshing amount of unison, it was enjoyable to see this technique used more in practice.

The performance allowed for a beautiful use of music and movement correlation, allowing the music to give an impulse in their style and timing within the performance. Incorporating falling and rising, the dancers gave a sophisticated and graceful use of weight, contraction and stillness. Some movement remained a little restrictive, however showing a more classical approach to choreography. Use of repetition was clear and allowed the audience to engage with the performance, really showing a strong sense of connection. A cultured correlation of sound and vocals were also incorporated into the work, a moving and touching effect that gave individuality and a sense of culture.  Thus adding to the dancer’s exploration of becoming more connected with the performance.

The lighting within the work was powerful and connected well with the movement material. Moving in parallel lines this allowed the dancers to come together and connect via contact. Although not always in direct contact but via the sensing of each other. This was beautifully executed highlighting both the idea of moving together but not always having the ability to remain together. The use of weight, counter balance and holding was clear within the performance, giving a strong symbolic style of love and partnership. The contact and lifts used were nicely portrayed and executed.

The use of video footage gave an added transition from movement, the footage was perfectly created and gave a further deeper emotion and connection for the audience. Thus allowing the audience to engage more within the performance. It portrayed fun, community and family forming a strong and continuous composition of film and dance. Smooth transitions in prop moving was clear with the use of sound to help further this movement.

A further section within the piece was very much enjoyed, allowing for individuality and a fabulous technique. This being the section of found sound used through foot tapping/stomping and vocals. This was executed flawlessly and explored more, expanding the dancer’s abilities and giving more to the performance. This was progressive showing a crescendo in the sound created, giving a fluid and continuous moment in which connected well with the work created. The harmonies really gave some added emotion and exceptional skill, allowing for a further sense of partnership and cohesiveness. WHITEOUT gave a tasteful approach to movement material and showed a clear and elegant connection to the theme, it was beautiful to watch this performance progress and allowed the audience to move with it.

We thank Barrowland Ballet and Natasha Gilmore for their beautiful and elegant performance that provoked emotion and allowed for a variety of classical and explored techniques. We hope to see Barrowland Ballet again soon and look forward to further performances.

Critique and Blog Editor:

Megan Rainford BA

COAL by Gary Clarke


 by Gary Clarke

The Gary Clark Company performed COAL, an outstanding and powerfully executed performance on Wednesday 1st March 2017, ending with a standing ovation. Clarke successfully created within the MDI LEAP Dance festival in association with the Unity Theatre Liverpool, an atmospheric piece capturing a time in British history; the mining industry. The industrial performance located in an industrial space, ‘Make’ allowed for a deep connection from all, really helping to empower the performance and show a frightening parallel to the events that occurred in the 1980’s.

COAL, a deeply personal time for Clarke and so many others allowed for the working class mining villager’s to be heard. This touching performance incorporated a variety of emotions, moving the audience from laugh out loud moments to devastation and loss. The piece continued to push physical and emotional boundaries, sharing and moving through the life of the communities and the people of the working class. COAL really expressed the idea of community and it being at the heart of the mining industry. What it meant to be stuck in the life of mining, being confined and captured within this time. An elegant touch of community as Clarke involved women from local mining villages from around the UK. Thus helping to further this theme of truthfulness and realism, an added feature that not only allowed for a community feel but gave the performance a deeper connection that achieved authenticity and strength. Clarke further engaged with local brass bands to play live music within the performance, giving the audience a singular and individual presentation of the work.

The sound creation throughout the performance, from both live and recorded established a breath-taking environment, beautifully executed in relation to both theme and movement material created. The accompaniment allowed for a development in our overall sensory attachment to the performance, the sounds would alternate from live to recorded and spoken word. A deep connection being shown between the miners and the lift, travelling down into the bottomless cavernous and abysmal location. The sound, continuous and deep allowing for a nervous emotion to run through the body, worried and anxious for what may happen next. This matching the low movement and the progression of lacking visibility, as a foggy smoke filled the entirety of the space.

The movement created not only showed a refreshing take on a new stylistic style, but without being obvious allowed for a profound connection with the theme and the physical strains that occurred when mining. This was visible within the piece, displaying sweat and a continuous amount of power exploding throughout the performance. An immense amount of connection between dancers allowed for an impressive and tasteful exploration of movement, showing an intense and outstanding use of weight, balance and stability. Very much highlighting the brutality and realistic movement carried out in the mines. The dancers’ scrambled, scooped, raised and fell through the space, giving a truthfully inspirational and well-rehearsed performance. The movement worked well alongside the lighting and sound allowing for a greater structure to be created. The orange/yellowing light gave a pressured and heavy approach to the movement, using this spot of light to enhance the tight and small spaces, cramming the dancers into a segment of space. The movement highlighted mining jobs as the dancers worked closely together but never clashing. An impressive technique that explored this mining environment.

Simplistic but significant symbolism became apparent throughout the performance, allowing for interpretation and creativity of happenings that occurred within the mines. A black balloon effortlessly appeared as a miner began to blow allowing it to expand and finally pop. Beautifully highlighting the dark effects and lack of oxygen in which the miner had experienced. This automatically gave a certain bleak and desolate feel to the atmosphere created.

A high pitch and ear piercing bell would ring to announce a change in job role in the mine, this gave the audience a sense of time and anxiousness as the workers continued with their tasks viciously and inhumanely. The smooth transitions in movement, lighting and sound swept the audience into a continuous flow, allowing us to truly experience and become fully involved within the piece. The dancers would shout and command, helping to show a natural and realistic approach to life in the mines, maintaining a staggering stamina and consistent amount of power and role interpretation.

COAL incorporated a variety of roles from Margaret Thatcher to miners and pit girls, touching on all lives within the mining community. This allowed for a political approach, however it did not engulf the performance but added to the already existing negativity and dark realities of the time. The stories told within the performance by the pit girls were pulled from true stories that were given within interviews. This again adding to the realism of the production and the real situations that occurred during that time. The pit girls added laughter, and a more upbeat environment giving a contrast in emotions, this helped to create a lighter atmosphere but still allowed for the darkness to remain at hand. COAL really portrayed the lives of many, giving a fantastic and incomparable performance showing the struggle and sense of community formed.

We thank Gary Clarke and all involved for sharing this truly extraordinary performance, it provoked thought, emotion and connections within the mining community and furthermore, what the people must have gone through at this time. An exceptionally inspirational performance in which has touched so many people’s lives, we look forward to further works by Gary Clarke and hope to see new works created in the future.

Critique and Blog Editor:

Megan Rainford BA

First Post

Blog Editor and Dance Critique

Welcome to the MDI LEAP Dance Festival 2017 blog, celebrating its 25th Anniversary. #MakeMeLeap

My name is Megan Rainford and I am a current MA Dance Student at Liverpool John Moores University. I have a BA (Honours) in Dance Practices. The blog will provide a variety of information supporting and surrounding the LEAP Dance Festival, giving you the opportunity to explore what the festival has to offer.