August 15 2000
Longford/Berlin ConnectionBackstage Theatre, Longford
By CAROLYN SWIFT
On Saturday night a large and enthusiastic audience at the Backstage Theatre, Longford, had first sight of HugBarrog, a specially commissioned piece by Marguerite Donlon which will open the Berlin Dance Festival on September 5th. Shown as a work still in progress, it featured guest artist Anne-Marie Warburton from Berlin with Orla McFeely, Rebecca Reilly, Olwen Grindley and Lisa McLoughlin, backed by six students from the Shawbrook Summer School.
To a bluesy score by saxophonist Claas Willeke, who also ably compered the evening, and against film by photographer Oliver Moest projected on to five white hanging cloths, the piece extended the dancers, using almost every muscle in their bodies as they intermingled their limbs with the athleticism of wrestlers and the delicacy of weavers.
There was also much humour derived from a variety of physical greetings, including the old variety gag in which a single person portrays an embracing couple. Donlon herself, with Warburton, danced in Drumai, developed from rhythm-training for the ten Irish dancers who drummed on oil cans and a milk churn.
She is a beautiful dancer and, as she weaved and twined, it was possible to identify some of the vocabulary which informed her choreography for HugBarrog.
Further contributions were demonstrated in the Workshop Presentation which opened the programme.
Following a ballet class which continued while the audience arrived, the choreographer explained the alphabetical improvisation used to create the contorted body movement. We then saw how these were used, as well as a short solo from Different Directions, created by Donlon last spring. An interesting evening, showing continued improvement in Shawbrook Summer School standards.
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