Digital programme review: Dance Umbrella – short pieces

This year’s Dance Umbrella is now underway in various venues across London until 31 October.

The digital programme (from £5 for a full pass) is a showcase for international and homegrown performers, some of which you can also see performing work live this month.

I’ll be looking at the longer pieces and audio showcases in a separate post.

Check out the full programme and also check out this interview with Freddie Opoku-Addaie about this year’s selection of shows.

Image from All she likes is popping bubble wrap

All she likes is popping bubble wrap (Ioanna Paraskevopoulou, Greece)

Produced by Onassis STEGI as part of Onassis New Choreographers Festival 8, this is a playful fusion of archival footage films, sound and movement, presented in split and overlaid screens.

Paraskevopoulou and sound designer Danis Chatzivasilakis use objects and the body to recreate the sound effects we may hear in the original films, which include excerpts of work by Kubrick, Ulmer and Donen.

For film lovers and dance/movement fans, this is an 18 minute diversion which brings to life a range of sounds from running, marching, riding and dancing to bathing and mixing a drink.

The images are sharp and cleverly integrated, the performer’s gaze meets ours at times, while the sound design in this piece gained an award at FIVideodanza Festival.


Live: MOS (Barbican, Pit, to 14 Oct)

Image from Girl's Notes

Girl’s Notes Film Work (SU PinWen, Taiwan)

This 3 minute piece is about the female body and the way we view it, how we expect it to be, and how a visual language can create a dynamic experience.

Balancing a beauty book on their head and clutching a vibrator in one gloved hand, the artist challenges us to look, interpret, and question.


Image from End of the Day

END OF THE DAY (knowing it doesn’t but making it matter) (Graeme Miller, UK)

An 11 minute film more about the beautiful game (football/soccer) than the body beautiful, this is a litany of match results (read by James Alexander-Gordon) while the camera pans over the muddy footprints on Hackney Marshes.

For fans, whose reactions we hear from the sidelines, the engagement and frustration with the endless list of goalless draws, END OF THE DAY builds with a palpable energy as symbolic as it is evocative of the rhythm of 3 o’clock kick-offs on a Saturday afternoon.


Image from Let's Dance in the City

Let’s Dance in the City – London (Jade Hackett & Serendipity, UK)

At just 4 minutes, this is a snapshot of memory, mothers, music and Jamaican food, erupting into a vibrant dance in a safe space, a childhood back garden, a little piece of home.

For Let’s Dance in the City 2023, in collaboration with filmmaker Cayla Mae Simpson, dancers responded to the energy of Leeds, Leicester, Newcastle and London.


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