With dancers from Australia and Italy as well as the Midlands RDC youth aims to train dancers to a professional standard. Pictures: Howl Creative.

No Borders

mac Birmingham


Three dances, one psychological, one whimsical and one overtly and unashamedly political make up this triple bill from Rutherford Dance Company Youth.

In between we had two groups with strong links with RDC and its internationally recognised choreographer and artistic director Adam Rutherford.

First Family from Shenley Academy where RDC run a class and workshops and Sarah Macqueen is a guest tutor. Her piece is based around a spoken word track by Big Sean about relationships, as he tells us “blood makes you related, loyalty makes you family.”

Loyalty is the theme “It’s not just about having that somebody; it’s about being that somebody, too”. It brought11 dancers in red is a nicely balanced flow of dances, sometimes in groups, sometimes pairs, sometimes the entire company.

Mutant by Hereford based 2Faced Dance Youth Company, inspired by ACE Dance and Music’s TEN and reimagined by Jazz Gritt, dancer and education officer at 2Faced Dance. It was danced to the pulsating Mutant Brain by American DJ Sam Spiegel. It is a fast-paced track, with staccato rhythm, which needed and got strong technique from the young dancers.

RDC opened with Abnormal by Italian choreographer Chiara Prina with music ranging from the quiet, gentle, hesitant piano of Marc Ostermeier’s Suspended from his Chance Reconstruction album, through So Far by Ólafur Arnalds and Brutal Thine Enemy by Teknoaxe with a finale of the insistent rhythm of Ravel’s Bolero.


It was a dance which demanded solid technique with both elements of classical and contemporary dance examining a favourite theme of Prina’s work, the human psyche; the individual, the non-conformist in a world which demands conformity.

The second piece was a lighter affair, Lea Anderson’s Formulator. Anderson started with pictures from professional dance magazines from the 1940s and 1950s, then imagined how the dancers had ended up in their magazine poses, what sequence they had danced, all assembled with styles borrowed from K-pop promo dance sequences. That’s short for Korean pop for the uninitiated . . . and yes, I did have to look it up.

Dancing to Ah! By Oval and Throw it Down by Dominique Young Unique it was a lively, fast paced, intricate piece that was always interesting.

The final piece was the dance equivalent of agitprop theatre, political and with a moving and thoughtful video prologue above the company which created a changing stylized formation on the gloom.

Trump was the main target with his fanciful Mexico wall linked to the Berlin Wall but the pictures and flashbacks went beyond that, to Vietnam, to homelessness, to the devastation in the Middle East, asylum seekers in overcrowded dangerous boats, to the tiny body of a drowned Syrian boy washed up in the surf near Bodrum, Turkey in 2015.

All played out to Pink’s unemotional, matter of fact, powerful track, Dear Mr President. The song was an open letter to George W Bush but, 12 years on, the words and their powerful message could have been written yesterday. They might even have welcomed Mr President to Britain on his current controversial visit.

That is followed by The Berlin Wall of Sound by Berlin Mauer, a collection of audio snippets and interviews, along with the sounds relating to the Berlin Wall which divided West Berlin from East Germany from 1961 to1989.

The track was both to mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the wall and a tribute to the 120 people who died trying to escape to the West across it. The full piece, incidentally, is 7:32 minutes – the time it takes sound to travel the 155 km length of the wall.

Choreographed and adapted by Adam Rutherford the piece takes no prisoners. It forces you to think, to see the past re-emerging in the present, how regimes might change but policies, power and oppression seem bombproof.

It is a powerful piece and demands great technical ability to create interest and, if not a story, at least command  attention when the accompaniment is crackly quotes in German, some almost 60 years old, along with the odd siren, shots or guard dogs barking.

Cleverly the company are divided into black and white costumes to create an illusion of a wall and people trapped and denied their freedom behind it as we see what is a universal struggle unfold. As it becomes more frantic searchlights sweep the audience until they reveal their symbolic victim, dead at the foot of whatever wall had trapped him.

 It left you admiring the work and the talented dancers but at the same time dismayed at the mess we keep making of the world about us.

Roger Clarke



2Faced Dance

Shenley Academy 

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