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Friday, 21 October 2016

Fagin's Twist, Birmingham Hippodrome, Birmingham.


If your looking for a exciting new dance production to sweep you off your feet and inspire you then Avant Garde Dance and The Place's, Fagins' Twist is definitely not one to be missed. Also participating in a post show discussion gave a wonderful insight into their creative process and influences that enables you to understand the structure.

It's really a twist on the original story of 'Oliver' that works so well and still carries with it the main thread of the characters that became so important to us. Oliver, Fagin, Billy, Nancy and the Artful Dodger are present throughout the production, however choreographer Tony Adigun dives deep into their characteristics and reexamined the relationships between them. As Tony described in a interview back in April 2016, "We created back stories for each of them if they didn't already exist so that the dancers, playing these dynamic people, could be engrossed by them and really embody the roles".

Oliver Twist is a classic story, one that most of us know from whether we've read the book or watched the 1968 musical film. There were definitely times when the plot wasn't clear enough for somebody who may not know the classic story but the dancers would introduce voice into their performance to keep their audience well engaged with the plot.

It's clear that Tony Adigun wanted to work with the old and new theme within the production, working with history and bringing it to the present moment. Being set in Victorian London, it's clear from the beginning that there was a lot in that respect. Tony Adigun also played with how much the story could be pushed and the limits they could go to bring exciting, more modern aesthetics to make it more engaging. The use of the boys pick pocketing handkerchiefs is something we know and as the dancer Lisa Hood mentioned 'is one of many hooks that the choreographer wanted to use from the original text'.


The dancers had mentioned in their post show discussion about the long creative process it took. They mentioned how the choreographer thought the original was too 'boring' for the recent times and he was intrigued by Fagin's character and the idea of the underdog more-so than Oliver's. There was clear differentiation between all of the characters, whilst Oliver was considered the one who we rooted for, the protagonist, the one who we view the story through. The director/choreographer has flipped this and presented Oliver as the antagonist, the villain, the bad guy in the story. So now we watch the story through the Artful Dodgers eyes as we watch his mentor(s) become torn apart by the unseen monster who manipulates events to his advantage.  It took around 7/8 weeks running up to production.

The movement from the dancers was slick, energetic and full of fluidity. It came alongside an incredible music score provided by Sound Designers Brian Hargreaves and Seymour Milton. There was clearly something about the use of music alongside the movement score that brought the entire piece to life. I witnessed so many individual styles within each individual performer that it didn't feel like a performance that was strictly one style of dance to another.

Knowing that Dani Harris-Walters who played Bill Sykes perfectly and demonstrated some incredible Krumping technique within his character was actually somebody who hadn't undertaken any form of professional training, was somebody who grabbed your attention immediately.

I absolutely loved their modernistic twist on a much loved classic story. Their use of a simplistic but effective scenery choice gave depth and expression of a time in our history that seems so far away. I would definitely go and see this performance again.

You can still watch Fagin's Twist when it performs at Lakeside Arts Centre, Nottingham on Tues 25 Oct. 


thanks for reading,
Disclaimer: I was invited to the performance of Fagin's Twist at Birmingham Hippodrome in return for this post to be published. The photos are sourced from the Birmingham Hippodrome wesbite . All views are on my own.

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