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Monday, 19 January 2015

30 years with Magpie Dance


Picture from Twitter user @MagpieDance 

Seeking the opportunity to engage young people with disabilities into the arts can be an increasingly difficult task with a lot of cuts to the arts and so forth happening in recent times. However there is always time to celebrate what is already there within the arts and why it deserves our support more than ever.

2015 already proves to be a time to celebrate the arts and all it provides people with disabilities as Magpie Dance enter their 30th anniversary year. Magpie Dance of whom are based in Bromley at The Churchill Theatre, have created a national reputation for their ability to present an exciting, professional approach to inclusive dance. Since being founded in 1986 by Artistic Director Avril Hitman, Magpie Dance have continued to embrace their mission of; 

'Unlocking individual potential and ability, to be at the forefront of dance for people with learning disabilities'. 

Magpie Dance have grown over the last 30 years to deliver a dance programme which covers young people as well as the older generation who still want the opportunity to experience that buzz that dancing provides. I was very excited to be along their 30th anniversary 'Flying High' at Sadler's Wells Theatre in London this week.



photo from Twitter user @JanTregelles 

The first work Made by Many performed AND choreographed by the adult dancers showed us straight the professional level that Magpie Dance engages with. The Director and Facilitators allowing the adults to have responsibility of the choreography with their support can be challenging but the work very apparent to be personal and raw for the audience to see. The adults showing a real sense of maturity and professionalism. The space was amplified by the live drumming on the stage as they moved through pair and ensemble work with establishments of strong connections between those moments as well as being in rhythm and sync as a group. It was so clear they really enjoyed moving through the space together, a very humbling and comfortable piece to watch.

The second work of the evening was The Story So Far, two pieces of work commissioned specially by David Willdridge from well renowned contemporary dance company Stopgap Dance Company in celebration of the 30th anniversary. Having already witnessed David perform in Stopgap's Artifical Things back at their Spring Tour in 2014 I was very much looking forward to witnessing the work he had created for Magpie's young people and seeing how he worked creatively... I was not disappointed.

I was drawn by the young people's ability to be professional, confident and charming within their dancing bodies as they entered and moved through their piece. The presence and attitude brought to the dance space is an element they should really embrace and be proud of. 

Speakeasy was full of charming movements and intelligence use of the space. The young people clearly enjoying every movement on the stage and savouring their moment right until they exited the space. We saw small snippets of their personalities come out in the audience which itself was enough to make you smile! The young people clearly had come along a big journey together as a Youth Group and connected with one another as well as the audience.

The Story So Far introduced us to the newly formed High Fliers, newly formed? they presented us a group which looked like it had been together for years and was well established. Drawn to their abilities to be their own characters throughout the piece whilst performing a well structured piece of work which involved dynamics through movement as much as it did with use of dancers in the piece. David was clearly not afraid to challenge the young people and showcase the best of their ability to us all. The solitary writer showing a lot of curiosity and engagement with the other characters within the space without being distracted, a perfect example of the professionalism of all of the young people involved with the project.

 I wanted the pieces to be longer, I wanted to watch them all for the rest of the night.

Magpie Dance should be proud of their ability to produce work which showcases high standard and engagement within dance, everyone should definitely watch their work! It's gorgeous, imaginative and professional.

Thankyou for showing us what you can all do! :-)

P.S didn't expect to find my name in the programme for the evening either! oooo!


thanks for reading,



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