Patrick Studio at the Birmingham Hippodrome
November 16, 2018
Freefall Dance Company, Birmingham Royal Ballet’s company of dancers with learning disabilities, returned to the Birmingham Hippodrome’s Patrick Studio recently for its annual performance showcase.
A while ago, Freefall’s artistic director, Lee Fisher, confided that you never quite know what is going to happen in a company performance. Maybe, but what you can usually guarantee is a show that will leave you impressed by the dancers and smiling at the humour.
This year’s programme included a reinvention of the company’s popular piece Chairs, with additional sections and new choreography. Over 25 minutes and to a medley of tunes that make you want move too, each of the 12 sections of Chairs Too!, as it is now known, looks at that most everyday of objects in a different situation. They came thick and fast: at the hairdressers, a brass band as if playing sat in a bandstand, and musical chairs. My favourite (just) was an amusing take on airline boarding and the subsequent safety demo. The work cleverly allowed the very different personalities of dancers to shine through. They clearly delight in performing together. Their focus was impressive throughout, and some have real stage presence.
Recently premiered at the San Francisco Dance Film Festival, We Are Here is the latest super dance-for-the-camera film to come from the Freefall stable, again directed by Sima Gonsai, with director of photography, Chris Keenan. The cinematic short, shot at the Lunt Roman Fort in Coventry, explores notions of identity where the search to belong unites you as one. To that end, the company come together seamlessly with former Birmingham Royal Ballet Dancers Iain Mackay and Jenna Roberts as they take inspiration from their surroundings and each other. Richard Syner’s atmospheric soundtrack is played by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia.
The show finished with a short ‘experiment’, as Fisher called it, BYO, for which each of Freefall’s dancers were invited to bring a favourite piece of music that inspired them to dance. Bring your own, indeed! In something of a party atmosphere, the short solos gave each a deserved personal moment in the spotlight before the fun of the curtain call; and no-one does a call like Freefall!