Gemma Hirst

Review: Launch Day @ Dance City

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Never have I been proud to say where I come from till tonight (March 5), as Dance City celebrates the North East’s industrial history via the dance performance of Launch Day.

A performance choreographed by Kristin Kelly-Abbott, the contemporary dance piece is based on Alexander Millar’s artwork of the Gadgies that focuses on the lives of the region’s ship builders.

Very clear what paintings Abbott concentrates on, the images are projected at the back of the stage so that we can recognise how the movements are cohesive with Millar’s work.

Almost as if the paintings come to life, the dancers wear the blue uniform that the workers would have worn on the shipyards and that are iconic of the Gadgies.

I enjoy the dancers wearing the hobnail boots as they move across the stage; the sounds of the boots punctuate the beat of the music.

All five dancers do well to portray an old Geordie ship worker, in that their physicality’s are hunched over and the movements are laborious to highlight the tiredness of the workers.

The music is central to Launch Day as some of the songs that are played in the performance are of well-established North East musician Mark Knopfler. Also featuring in the piece, Abbott uses Lindisfarne’s Fog on the Tyne to tell the story of what the ship workers used to do after a hard day’s work.

The audience seems to enjoy this as they sing along to that classic song that is well-known up here. It is clear to me that the dance performance is North East orientated and very true to the history.

Perhaps not intentional, the stage lights shine onto the dancers and create shadows against the wall of the stage. Especially where we see one the dancers dancing with a ladder resembling the very shape of the Angel of the North.

To see that iconic landmark being represented through dance, it is almost like it is another piece of artwork. The images that Abbott has created in this performance leave this reviewer speechless.

Performed by a North East based dance company, I left the show feeling really proud of not only the performance art industry but the North East heritage.

Launch Day will be touring to Alnwick Playhouse on March 9, Queens Hall Hexham on April 13 and Washington Arts Centre on April 28.

For more information check out Kelly- Abbott’s Facebook page here.

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