Lilian Baylis Studio
Reviewed – 27th June 2019
“There is absolutely no need to consider Fairy Tales in a category of its own – it is fully-fledged dance by gifted dancers”
The power of the arts has always been a rich source of self-expression, enjoyment and emotional release; we can all discover an inner voice, hidden talents or absorbing satisfaction. As the younger sister of an autistic brother, Rashmi Becker realised, early in life, the benefits of dance for disabled people to improve communication, coordination and reduce anxiety. Passionate about dance herself, she lent immense support and energy to promoting inclusive activities before setting up Step Change Studios in 2018. This project gives everyone, regardless of age or ability, the opportunity to find pleasure and achievement in courses, workshops and developing performances that showcase the all-embracing possibilities of their work. After last year’s ‘Strictly’-inspired ‘Fusion’, Step Change has stretched both imagination and talent with their new show, ‘Fairy Tales’. Born within a collection of popular tales from around the world, creatives and dancers conjure up a varied yet harmonious collage of narrative, characters and ambiences.
After a mood-setting welcome read by Chanaye Armorer Dumbuya-Johnson, whose mother is a cast member, we are swept into the secret fairyland of the twelve dancing princesses with the grace and charm of Adrienne Armorer, Abigail Brown, Clair Gleave, Laura Jones and Freya Spencer. And their spell continues to enchant, soothe and captivate. In solo numbers, Romano Solano’s exquisite fluidity of movement and Pawel Karpiński’s bold command of the stage convey ideas of beauty and self-esteem from The Ugly Duckling and Anastasia’s nostalgic mood. Against a background of blue sky and white clouds, Laura Jones and Lauren Russell glide and float as free spirits while Rashmi Becker joins Romano Solano in a magical, sparkling take on Sleeping Beauty and Anna Alvarez creates and interprets a powerful and beautifully integrated duo with Sander Verbeek as they tell the Inca tale of ‘The Skeleton Woman’.
Particularly moving is the sincerity of Clair Greave and Andrew Self’s care and affection as they glide and spin to Someone to Watch Over Me. Adding a nightmarish note, Pawel Karpiński, Joshua Moore, Romano Solano and Sander Verbeek show physical versatility and artistic flair in a dynamic Red Riding Hood and it is impossible to resist the foot-tapping fun and energy as Kat Ball, Abigail Brown, Natasha Julien and Freya Spencer take to the floor to bring The Red Shoes to life. Closing the evening, Lauren Russell blends with the skilful elegance of classical Indian Kuchipudi dancers, Pragnya Dara, Arunima Kumar, Bhagya Lakshmi and Sravani Vootukur in a celebration of Vishnu and his tale of renewal and hope.
There is absolutely no need to consider Fairy Tales in a category of its own – it is fully-fledged dance by gifted dancers. The cleverly picked story fragments matched with perfectly-chosen music, the sensitive choreography and artistic expertise combine to shine in an entertainment which stirs a flood of emotions.
Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington
Lilian Baylis Studio
Previously reviewed at this venue: