Anjali Dance Company exceed in the celebration the abilities and creative professionalism of people with learning disabilities, resulting in the creation of high-quality and brilliant dance work for over 20 years. Through the execution and approaching of both innovative and pioneering dance production, Anjali engages the dance community in an ongoing debate about aesthetics, form, purpose and inclusion. 

The latest production, GENIUS, is a double bill of new work that has been created by award-winning choreographers Gary Clarke and Lea Anderson, both of who Founder and Artistic Director Nicole Thomson says "makes accessible work". Nicole explained that to decide on what choreographers would collaborate with Anjali was down to a dance lab they ran a while ago, inviting choreographers to come and work with the dancers. It was during the lab that they noticed both Lea and Gary had "developed a really positive rapport with the dancers, the dancers were really inspired". 

"developed a really positive rapport with the dancers, the dancers were really inspired."

The double bill production presents the phenomenal group of talented dancers - Hannah Dempsey, Daisy Garrett, Alex Hyde, Jason Manito, Nick McKerrow and Lauren Payne as they perform two dramatic explorations of genius. When approaching the creative process Nicole explained that working with choreographers like the two for GENIUS involved giving them freedom to be creative with the dancers but to "ensure they have enough time and days that the dancers can do, I think that's really important". There's a real sense of careful direction in working with these professional dancers to produce the high quality performances that Anjali are known for. 


The dancers are very much involved within the creative process too, discussing ideas and the idea of 'Genius' was a topic they already had loosely in mind. Experimenting with the ideas surrounding the subject, researching various genius' examples to base the dance on. Nicole said that "initially we were going to work with Alfred Hitchcock for Lea Anderson's piece, we changed that idea".  The end result is Bloodsucker with some great artistic influences to create the dance. 

Beginning with Gary Clarke's piece within the double bill, Beethoven we are taken on a exploration into the extraordinary personal life of the man behind the iconic music scores. This gothic, cinematic and highly theatrical choreography is performed to excerpts of Beethoven's music we may or may not recognise. Nicole explains that "the costumes in Gary's piece play an important part in the piece and it's more about a big gesture and very theatrical and big movements with interesting choreography" intertwined within it. Gary did note that working with this company for the production is a "rewarding, inspiring and exciting experience". 

"The dancers really embraced this film, total engagement in their characters". 

Lea Anderson's work, Bloodsucker, a piece based on the legend of the vampire Nosferatu and his depiction in film. Regarded as an influential masterpiece of cinema, the 1922 silent movie Nosferatu which really helped the dancers to create their piece. "The dancers really embraced this film, total engagement in their characters". In the piece five recognisable scenes that become their own tales of horror, in various performance styles such as expression, silent-screen acting and more. This piece also has over "100 cues" within it as Nicole explains, "they remember them extraordinary well". 

The pieces are a great contrasts in their response to the theme of genuis and are going to enable the performers to be "involved in the creative process". The choreographers have drew out "ideas from the individual dancers, ideas hasn't been imposed on them". 

GENIUS will be a showcase of highly trained performers producing professional work for it's audiences. Nicole highlights that "despite who is doing it, they create good art. We believe good art is good art. If it's high quality and if the audience is engaged in what is happening then that's what is is important".

GENIUS will be embarking on a 8 date tour in great dance venues across the UK, including it's premiere at Newcastle's Dance City on Thursday 5 October. 

You can find out more about Anjali Dance Company and the GENIUS double bill by heading over to their website here

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