Review: Cardiff Dance Festival – Poggle, Black Out & Countless Yellow Chairs

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Barreland Ballet – Poggle, Compagnie Philippe Saire – Black Out & Laïla Diallo/Jules Maxwell – Countless Yellow Chairs
Saturday 11th November 2017
Western Studio/Dance Studio, Wales Millenium Centre & Chapter Arts Centre

CDF has engulfed my time over the past week. With the amount of work on, this week and a half long festival is not to be missed for its daring creations and spirit for the joy dance.

I review little to no shows for children, so Poggle was a great starting point. I was one of a handful of adults who had brought on mass children from babes in arms, to kiddies under 5. Barrowland Ballet prides themselves on an international touring programme for shows aimed at children. It’s impressive stuff and is heightened by their commitment to stage a variety of shows for all ages.

In Poggle, it is for the really young and also the young at heart. The story is simple enough, in which a young lad goes on a forest adventure and embarks upon a sort of spirit fairy called Poggle. It’s a delightful affair thanks to the trio of performers: Jade Adamson, Vince Virr and Rory Haye. Adamson is the title character who seems to have never met a human, playing the role with a childlike innocence all her own. Virr has a muscular charisma as the boy, with some fine dance steps and loads of charm. Haye feels like he’s been plucked out of children’s TV, his tone and songs are splendid and plays a sort of narrator/supporter for Poggle and the child. It ends with the audience being welcome to put Poggle to sleep with tree branches and to come over and admire the set, with all it’s hidden nooks. It’s pleasant viewing and more children and parents should check it out on its extensive tour.

The buzz around Black Out from Compagnie Philippe Saire has been present for most of the festival. This is a harsh piece, which pays off very well. We entered the Dance Studio and ascended an imposing black box. Looking down into this large square structure, we saw three bodies who appeared to be basking on a beach. One rubs his fingers across the floor, creating a grating noise, the other two flail about with ardent vigour. It soon goes beyond this as black grit is poured into the space. The dancers are soon covered in it and begin to form patterns and forms around each other, evoking the rich patterns and textures of painter Marc Chagall and the ordering of sand in a Japanese garden.


The mood swiftly becomes nightmarish, with the female dancer being covered in the grit, evoking burial as the two other male dancers (entirely covered in black body suits) continue to sift around her. She eventually is reborn in a slow and visceral vision. It was hard not to linger about this piece afterwards. It had a crisp and brutal quality that I’ve not seen in a lot of theatres.

Bracing the rugby crowds in town, it was time once again to frequent Chapter. This time, Laïla Diallo was back with Countless Yellow Chairs, a collaboration with composer Jules Maxwell. Earlier in the week, we saw Diallo perform her small piece In This Moment, which was created when apparently Countless Yellow Chairs was not ready or when compromises had to be met. In This Moment was a stellar work which was short, thought-provoking and filled with an uncertain poise.

Sadly, Countless Yellow Chairs did not reach the same level of its counterpart. Themes are shared and the addition of Jules Maxwell as performer and musician took away from the gentle, longing Diallo had present in the other work. These chairs become more than they represent and metaphor seems to be rampant throughout the piece. Maxwell’s music is gentle and has a folk like quality, but it worked better on tape in said other show. A routine with cleaning folding signs began to infuriate in its repetition and execution. I cared more for Diallo’s voice and uncertain moves, than relentless repositions of the chairs in the space. Its mood becomes sombre towards the end with cricket chirps and one single spotlight, as she folds origami chairs. This is a prime example of when the unexpected becomes the better project.

Expect to see more reviews from Cardiff Dance Festival soon.


Poggle Rating: ⭑⭑⭑⭑
Black Out: ⭑⭑⭑⭑
Countless Yellow Chairs: ⭑⭑⭑

Cardiff Dance Festival continues at Chapter Arts Centre and the Wales Millennium Centre till 19th November 2017.

Related Articles:

Review: Cardiff Dance Festival – Roots & Extremely Bad Dancing To Extremely French Music

Review: NDCW – P.A.R.A.D.E. & Tundra @ WMC

Review: National Dance Company Wales – Profundis & The Green House @ Sherman

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