Review: Inspired – Cambridge University Contemporary Dance Workshop

Kit Davies 31 May 2011


ADC Theatre

Kit Davies is left relatively uninspired by a showcase of Cambridge dance talent in this year’s annual Cambridge University Contemporary Dance Workshop

‘Inspired’, “a dance celebration of what motivates and moves us”, is compiled of a number of varied performances. To say that inspiration was a common theme to all the pieces would be pushing it. Many strayed (the Lindy hop and the Rock ‘n’ Roll pieces to name a few) but it was these performances that I felt made the show a success.

The ‘Modern Acrobatic Rock ‘n’ Roll’ and ‘It’s Raining Men’ routines combined gasp-inducing lifts with incredibly tight choreography that truly engaged the audience. The energy they put into the dances reflected in the audience’s reactions; clapping, whistling and laughing along.

Indeed, the best performance of the night came from ‘Shades of Swing’ who utilized fluorescent gloves and shoes in complete darkness to create fantastic movement and shapes, no mean feat considering they were dancing in the dark.  It was here that the audience was most alive. I feel I must commend the truly innovative choreography this performance presented.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for all the performances. The show was at times lacklustre and pretentious. Dancers aimed to convey stories too complex for their medium which led to confusion. I couldn’t help but wonder if reading the short blurb for each piece from the programme before each performance would have made for a much more coherent show allowing the more challenging pieces to excel.

The standard of dance is on the whole good. Yet just as there is a vast range of dance styles, so is there in terms of ability. Whilst I was by no means expecting dancing of a professional standard, there were a number of instances where dancers had taken on choreography that was simply too challenging. The pieces that succeeded seemed to match dancer and choreography perfectly. Hannah Rothery in her self-choreographed piece is a shining example of this. It was a real showcase of her talent and she certainly deserved the warm reception she received.

Other dancers, frustratingly, seemed to be merely marking their routines. Failing to throw themselves wholeheartedly into the performances, pieces such as ‘Cosmic Love’ left me feeling indifferent. This was a shame since they often showed great promise.

Such an eclectic range of performances needed better structuring. Opening both acts with a soloist was, I feel, a mistake. One of the stronger group performances would have roused the audience much more and led to a stronger show overall. This betrays the amateur nature of the performance, not helped by the fact that a few dancers were inappropriately dressed (one man danced in jeans and socks, and a number of girls had not tied their hair back).

Nevertheless, I left the theatre having thoroughly enjoyed the show. A fantastic range that showcased a number of gifted dancers and choreographers (many had choreographed their own pieces). ‘Inspired’ certainly represents a gap in the market for dance shows in Cambridge and I am looking forward to seeing what they do in the near future.

Kit Davies