MOVE IT 2015 @ Olympia, London

UK’s biggest dance event Move It combines dance classes, live dance performances, a freestyle stage, a showcase theatre, merchandising and shopping all in the same space: the Olympia. It is undoubtedly an exciting experience to be immersed in such an environment, with people dancing joyfully everywhere regardless of their level of skill. Everyone is free and encouraged to express themselves through movement, from children to people in wheelchairs.

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To fully grasp all of the activities and exciting moments happening in Move It I feel I needed at least two full days. In the time that I got to be there I took two very enjoyable dance classes and saw a few of the Main Stage performances, as well as some lovely performances on the Freestyle Stage.

On the main stage, Stopgap Dance Company performs an extract of their show Artificial Things. I must say I was rather confused with the performance, in my view it lacked coherence, maybe precisely because it was merely an extract of their show. I couldn’t grasp the message in their movement and the exaggerated facial expressions of one dancer made little sense to me. There were slim moments though when they came together and created lovely images.

Impact Dance followed with a hip hop number and I am afraid they didn’t have as much impact as they could have had. Hip Hop has the danger of needing a very honest and raw attitude on stage which may be the hardest thing to get for some performers. Putting on a false or exaggerated bad-ass face is going to be more ridiculous than effective. This attitude needs to come naturally from the aggressive and sharp movements of hip hop and in my opinion it lacked in Impact’s performance, which choreography-wise had many interesting moments where they could have easily shined.

In that aspect I praise dance company Boadicea, which combined a great and effective routine with strong performances, bearing that very honest hip hop attitude. Especially outstanding was the founder and Artistic Director of this group, Rhimes Lecointe of whom I could not take my eyes off. The audience clapped very enthusiastically at the end of this dance routine.

Ending this set of performances was Strictly Come Dancing Stars Aljaz and Janette. Both of them have great stage presence and dance beautifully. The quality of their performance is a matter of personal taste. I am not a big fan of performers pulling faces, but someone else could argue that it just means they are really having fun. I do believe they were having fun dancing together as a couple, being they are an actual couple, but it just feels more of a show-off, which doesn’t quite do it for me. The routine was nice and sharp but, having previously been a fan of Janette in the American Dance show, So You Think You Can Dance, I wanted to be blown away with the brilliance that I know she can bring.

A very upsetting aspect was how the host made remarks and jokes about their appearances, being that they are both good-looking, and that brings to the surface a very futile side of the commercial dance world. Dance should be about the dance and what it makes us feel, not about how hot Aljaz and Janette are. It is not their fault that they are turned into sex symbols by the media but in my view, it distorts the true value of their work in dance. Mostly, if dance is just about showing off skill or looks it looses artistic meaning as its glory won’t last longer than when someone else does a more impressive trick or looks better. When your performance has a bigger purpose it stands on its own, it doesn’t compete and has a timeless value. I most definitely want to return next year, for another batch of exciting dance classes and performances, and mostly to feel the buzz of dance all around me and rejoice in watching the good it does to people.

Review written by Sofia Moura.

MOVE IT 2015 was on at Olympia from Friday 13th-Sunday 15th February. For more information on the event, visit here…

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