I’ve seen a lot of dance productions over the years, some professional, and some more amateur. Succession, a triple bill recently presented at The Dukes Theatre, was one of those incredible bordering moments, where a diverse group of young dancers on the edge of reaching their fully fledged professional careers present new, innovative pieces. It was incredibly refreshing to see such and genuinely breathtaking in parts. 

Spiralling Trees was the first of the three works, and was created by LPM Dance Theatre’s choreographer Lisa Simpson in partnership with the Swati Dance Company. Lisa aimed to combine her choreographic methods with Bharatanatyam, a Classical Indian style of dance within the space of three days. This group of dancers performed a highly demanding and skilful piece with a sense of pride in their work and managed to incorporate the contemporary and Bharatanatyam elements excellently and subtly so that it felt natural. The geometric, spiralling theme came across immediately, and my only real criticism of this work is that with more time to develop I think it could become a much longer, more complex exploration of these two styles. If three days produced this piece, then I’d love to see what they could do in a fortnight. 

I was slightly apprehensive about Migratory as the migration theme has been so prevalent in recent dance pieces that it quickly becomes repetitive. However, from when the first dancer entered the stage in a single moving spotlight and demonstrated astonishing musicality from the beginning, I was fully engaged. There was a beautiful synchronisation between the dancers, even in moments of canon where each dancer moved in their own time their hand gestures spoke as one like the dancers were calling on an empty breeze that ran between them all in their migration. A highlight of this piece was the use of the lighting, which was creatively designed and drew the audience’s attention to where it was needed. This piece and its energy did feel introverted at times, however, because while all of the energy and connections between dancers was there, there were only moments where I felt it too. This was an adventurous and demanding piece, and I think with a couple more performances so that the dancers can get comfortable, it’ll be there. 

Vous was the last piece of the night, choreographed by George Adams. This piece felt far more relaxed and peaceful to begin in its exploration of the meeting and the relationships between two people. The use of expression and projection were excellent, with comical aspects of the costume changes making it more enjoyable and what I can only describe as a hair-flicking wake-up call around halfway through. This piece showed incredible freedom in its movement, and its use of contrasting sections hallmarks a good contemporary dance- whenever you think you know what you’re watching, it should completely throw you off balance. 

One major point I have touched on is the fact that these pieces were created and performed with both disabled and non-disabled choreographers and dancers, and the reason I left this until last is that I had no idea throughout the performance that this was the case and I couldn’t have seen a difference if I tried. The artistic visions of Lisa and George as choreographers were so strong, and this amazingly diverse group of dancers has performed so well that upon finding this out it only made me more amazed at the work’s high quality. It’s fantastic that places like The Dukes exist to give these companies such a welcoming and friendly-atmosphere venue to perform in and I can only commend the group on their brilliant performances.