Rosie Kay's Fantasia

The Patrick Centre

Birmingham Hippodrome


Birmingham based choreographer Rosie Kay’s work and outreach to artists and audiences helps to make the city’s cultural and artistic scene that much brighter.

She was the force behind the successful handover of the 2018 Commonwealth Games to Birmingham from Queensland, Australia, a disolay watched by more than one billion people worldwide.

Kay supports artists from all backgrounds and makes work in response to the modern world around us, as seen in her previous works such as MK Ultra in 2017/18, which was about modern conspiracy theory culture, and 10 Soldiers earlier this year, which was presented in association with the British Army. Tonight, we saw Fantasia, a performance with a cast of three incredibly strong and technical dancers, showing the emotional responses found within the beauty of art and the natural world around us.

Fantasia depicted three main elements of beauty. Part one represented the sun, part two the moon and the final part was the natural earth. We saw distinctive plot lines, tailored beautifully with a classical musical composition by Annie Mahtani. The soothing tones of the classic works of Vivaldi, Beethoven and Bach blended well with a unique juxtaposition of modern dance to accompany the delicate musical numbers.

The rule of three was certainly a motive in this performance and the company, comprised of Shanelle Clemenson, Harriet Ellis and Carina Howard were a trio of excellent dancers with technically strong performances. Kay directed using a prominent balletic style, which was excellent to admire alongside Mahtani’s classical composition.

The company showed us beautiful sequences as they played with tempo and modern dance styles. Kay’s ability to mix the genres of classical music with modern styles of choreography was a pleasure to behold. There were also some interesting costume designs by Louis Price which enhanced an aesthetic beauty.

Within the piece itself, part one, the sun, warmed the palette with a light-hearted and playful approach to the beauty of light. The dancers wore colourful tutus and worked in succession, delivering upbeat modern sequences to the balletic tones of the classical music and had a stage of golden flooring, easing us gently into the opportunity to appreciate Earth’s natural elements.

Part two saw a depiction of the moon, including the fantasies that are associated with a beaming light in a hue of darkness. In this element we saw some fascinating solo performances from Clemenson and Howard, supported eloquently by Ellis. The moon element saw a shift in tempo, displaying awesome technicality which lead into a micro-story of light and dark working simultaneously together.

In a piece depicting natural beauty and the appreciation of art, we also saw elements of struggle and hardship. To make art is a work in progress or labour, and progression is never straightforward. Although Fantasia showed us the joy of beauty found in everyday moments, Kay also made sure to show the stings of reality. The opposites of beauty were reflected tastefully by the company, reminding the audience that art is derived from our experiences and human behaviour, good or bad.

In the final part, we saw the element of Earth as a motive for beauty. It is the natural world that keeps us centred, reminding us of our own human existence. Price’s costumes were now completely black, flowing freely as faster sequences were seen, as the cast jumped in the air, carrying themselves from one part of the stage to the other.

Fantasia is a piece which describes the wonders of nature, and admiration for incredible creators which came before us. The piece implores us to look at the world’s natural beauty which indeed is sometimes it is hard to find, but there are clear rewards when found. The technicality of the cast driven by Kay’s superb modern choreography and modelled on a classical score links past perceptions of art and beauty to our own modern thinking. Kay reaches out to audiences so that they enjoy live performance as another form of art, in the hope of immersive art being accessible to all. To 26-09-19

Elizabeth Halpin


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