U Dance: North Wales Platform

Galeri Theatre, Caernarfon

With the chance to travel to London’s Southbank with National Youth Dance Wales for U.Dance 2012, the dancers of North Wales came full of energy and excitement to the Galeri theatre in Caernarfon on Monday evening. U.Dance 2012 will take place in London in July, bringing over 400 young people together for a festival of dance. Two groups out of Wales’ platforms will be selected by a panel to join National Youth Dance Wales at the festival to showcase their work, giving them an exciting opportunity to perform in front of their peers and other professionals within the industry.

The evening began with an interesting piece that investigated the relationship between sound and movement. The Sound Moves Youth Dance Project worked with a live musician to create a unique score to which the dancers contributed their own sounds. This contemporary style piece was playful and quirky, with some African influence to the movement phrases. It was an imaginative concept, which made for a vibrant piece of work.

The next two pieces were performed with confidence and style. C.U.E Performers presented a hip-hop-style piece showing two sides of a relationship, exploring the conflict and strain they experience. The all-girl ensemble used unison effectively, and performed with guts and power. This group emphasised the importance of strong performance skills, and were truly impressive in their commitment.

Next came The Unknown, performing for the very first time together. They were nervous beforehand, and were solely using the performance to build up their confidence and skills. Nerves, however, were not necessary. They showed promise and skill in their hip-hop piece, which was funky and well put together. As a group, they worked well in unison, with some of the dancers shining in their individual performances.

A quirky performance from The Academy followed on, incorporating the use of ‘haunted’ toys coming to life and intervening in the set. Their fun, playful costumes brought comedy and excitement to the show. With an appearance by a tribe of Simon Cowells, and skilful hip-hop dance, the piece was a full show in itself and a real crowd-pleaser.

In a change of tone, a highly technical contemporary piece brought a breath of fresh air to the evening. NEW Dance Technique and Performance Group used effective, confident choreography to showcase the best of what their dancers had to offer. Gorgeous unison work and emotive duets made for an elegant and graceful piece. The dancers performed with power and emotion, giving the impression they were reaching for something almost untouchable.

Finishing the first half were Penmaenmawr Youth Dance, who, despite being a much smaller group, used the space confidently. Using unison and solo work, they showed real potential in their choreography. They worked well as a team, with some strong moments in the group work.

Pwllheli School of Dance and Performing Arts started the second half with an exciting jazz and tango inspired performance. They gave some classic jazz a modern twist, then offered a mixed-up tango infused unison work. The piece brought warmth and passion to the evening, and showcased the versatility of the group as they easily moved from jazz to hip hop to tango. A great performance by all!

Ceredigion Youth Dance Company used a poem by Gareth Ioan called ‘Ceredigion’ to form their piece. They explored culture and the formation of landscapes by the people within them in their large group work. The piece seemed to be constantly building towards something, creating tension and anticipation. They performed as a team, and gave a sense of community and togetherness.

Closing the evening was a performance by the current National Youth Dance Wales Company. Despite only being able of presenting half a company due to injuries, the edited version of the piece on display was highly effective. It seemed the edit gave the choreography room to breathe and the movement tore through the space with ease.

The dancers have developed throughout their year together, bringing a sense of maturity to their performance. They spiralled and melted into the floor organically, becoming tangled in each other before floating away again. Perfectly complementing the beauty of their movement was the mystical music and flickering lights, emphasising the feeling of a memory trace. Just as powerfully as the piece began, it was gone in a burst of unison, just like a wisp of a memory you’re desperate to hold on to.

Overall, the evening was a great success. It was heart-warming to see such enthusiasm in the young people of North Wales for dance and performance. The breadth of talent across so many styles of dance was inspiring, and showed strong potential for the future of Welsh dance. Hopefully, some of them will get the opportunity to show off their talents in London, and display the best Wales has to offer on a larger scale.

For more information on U.Dance 2012 visit http://www.u-dance.org/main.cfm

Applications are open for National Youth Dance Wales. Visit http://www.nyaw.co.uk/e_nydw.html or email Suzie Firth nydw@nyaw.co.uk