A round up of U.Dance 2016 at The Lowry

I think I need to start this by mentioning two things

  1. While I’m a huge theatre buff, dance is not my strong point. However one of my colleagues said with dance you shouldn’t be looking for a story, but focus on the imagery and how that makes you feel. That certainly came across in U.Dance 2016, these performances where just stunning to watch.
  2. While U.Dance is for young people, don’t think these are just amateur performances. All the pieces were of an incredibly high standard and I felt privileged to be able to see them.

U.Dance 2016 started with a sensational dance piece from The Lowry’s ‘Centre for Advance Training’ students. I felt like a proud parent watching them produce such high quality work. Well done guys!

My pride continued on Saturday when our ‘Commotions Youth Dance Company’ did a spectacular performance outside the building. So good that not even the rain could stop people wanting to watch. This was followed by ‘Dance on Water’, which was made alongside Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures dancers. It was created by young people from Birmingham and Salford, who spent seven days on a canal boat making the piece. An extra pat on the back to you guys for not going crazy! I was told by one of the participants it was the cooking which was the most difficult, I can imagine!

The evening performances started with a bang, with ‘Momentum Youth Dance’ producing a highly energetic piece which made me wish I was a dancer (never gonna happen, no coordination L). A couple of highlights for me include ‘Kalanikethan’ who created a piece of Bharatanatyam which is a classical Indian dance form. All you really need to know is it looked amazing and their outfits were beautiful. And also ‘Wheelfever projects’ who work with disabled and non-disabled young people to find new and exciting ways to move together. They certainly managed that, I was completely blown away as they found their own unique ways to move through the space.

Another day another dance and Sunday started with ‘Signatures’ doing a dance trail around The Lowry. This was their first site-specific piece and I think it worked incredibly well. In particular the ‘Delusion Dance’ group really engaged with the space and used every nook and cranny to their advantage. It also created my favourite Facebook comment from someone watching the live feed. It read ‘Wow. A first for me to watch a live performance. Great commitment by the dancers. I’m super impressed. Glad I checked my phone when I did. What a treat to my newsfeed!’ Thank you lovely lady, that’s what this festival is all about.

More strong performances in the evening, who knew a dance piece about having a cold could be so amusing! Well ‘Preston Youth Dance’ have shown me the way. And I think a huge highlight for me was ‘Dance JAM’ who created a spectacular piece. They were all so energetic and you could tell they were all having so much fun doing it. Also I really want a light up hat!

A huge well done to everyone involved, from the participants to the people working backstage. You have done an amazing job. U.Dance 2016 has given 300 young people the opportunity to perform on The Lowry stage, and it was great to see them so excited, happy and genuinely having fun. I personally am delighted that we have so much young talent in this country, and I’m sure with festivals like this that will only continue to grow. The Lowry is proud to be this year’s hosts, and I feel privileged to have been a part of it.

Written by Clare Blabey