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Dance United

Posted on October 18, 2012

dance united inbetween brian slaterThis weekend, award-winning charity Dance United presents the London premiere of A Holding Space. This programme brings together professional and non-professional dancers from across the UK, the US and Ethiopia, with contributions from choreographers including Russell Maliphant and Dam Van Huynh. It will be performed at The Place from October 20 to 22.

Dance United uses intensive contemporary dance training to help transform the lives of young people who are affected by poverty, social inequality, crime or lack of opportunity. Its award-winning Academy programme, currently running in London, Yorkshire and Wessex, is an 11-week course based on the discipline of professional dance training. For many taking part, this is a life-changing opportunity. An impressive 98 per cent of those who complete the programme gain a national qualification, while 80 per cent go on to further study. The company, which was one of 26 charities chosen for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding gift fund, also supports international initiatives. A Holding Space highlights this work.

The evening explores how space can be inhabited: for waiting, for meeting a loved one, for safety or escape. The evening is named for a duet created by Maliphant and Adam Benjamin for Ethiopian dancers Junaid Jemal Sendi and Addisu Demissie. In 1996, aged 12, Sendi and Demissie were chosen for Dance United’s Adugna project in Ethiopia. After six years of training, the pair set up Adugna Community Dance Theatre Company – Ethiopia’s only contemporary dance company – with their fellow graduates. This duet explores their journeys, both real and imaginary, across two continents.

Sendi and Demissie have also choreographed Ekul Mizan (Amharic for “balancing scales”). Danced by eight male dancers from Dance United’s performance companies, it explores relationships between the developed and developing world.

Inbetween (pictured) shows off 15 dancers from Dance United Yorkshire’s performance company, based in Bradford. Marsquake has been specially choreographed for Dance United’s London performance company by Dam Van Huynh. Born in South Vietnam, raised in the US and now based in the UK, Van Huynh is Dance United’s first ever associate artist. Roost, choreographed by Kwesi Johnson of Kompany Malakhi, was commissioned by Matrix Chambers to mark World Refugee Day.

A Holding Space will be performed at The Place on Saturday, October 20 at 8pm and on Monday, October 22 at 2pm and 8pm. Monday’s evening performance will be a VIP gala. Tickets are available from The Place website.

 

Picture: Dance United in Inbetween. Photograph: Brian Slater

Zoë was born in Edinburgh, and saw her first dance performances at the Festival there. She is the dance critic of The Independent, and has also written for The Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman and Dancing Times. In 2002, she received her doctorate from the University of York for a thesis on “Nationhood and epic romance: Ariosto, Sidney, Spenser”. She is the author of The Royal Ballet: 75 Years and The Ballet Lover’s Companion.

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