Not an Elvis in sight: Barry Kirby and the rest of the Freefall company Picture: Alex Griffiths 

Freefalling from outer space


Birmingham Hippodrome Patrick Centre


FREEFALL are a WYSIWYG dance troupe, what you see is very much what you get and what you get is intense concentration and a glorious sense of fun and enthusiasm.

Founded in 2002 in a partnership between Fox Hollies School and Birmingham Royal Ballet, the company have been stretching the boundaries of dance.

Sometimes we are guilty of concentrating too much on technique and technicalities – I once watched a brilliant contemporary Dutch dance troupe with stunning video as a backdrop but even after reading the programme and talking to one of the company I had no idea of what it was about . . . or even why.

At its simplest dance or ballet is a means of telling a story through movement and Freefall do that with unbridled joy and enthusiasm, one of the most honest performances you are ever likely to see.

For this performance the company consisted of founder member Sarah Jobson, newcomer Nikita Malins, Julia Nicholls another founder along with Paul Pedley, Chris Brookes and Tara Bishop, with established members Barry Kirby, Chris Treadwell and Nicky Hodges and newest member Josef Reed.

Opening the show was a film based on Chairs, a dance piece premiered at the Patrick Centre in January last year, the film changes the concept somewhat, losing the musical chairs, tango, the Sharks and Jets and Parisian café in favour of a park, Severn Valley Railway and a glitzy bar in the Hippodrome.


Then came the main feature, so to speak. Chairs in January was paired with Seaside Rendezvous, which was a tribute to the music of Queen and Freddie Mercury.

This time it was paired with Freefalling from Outer Space,  directed by Sima Gonzai, which was a tribute to the 1950s’ B (and C and D . . .) horror movies of things from outer space, swamps and as in this case – The Wolf Man.

Using a big screen video backdrop we see the arrival of aliens – who all look like Elvis if you want to look out for them – a wedding in a Las Vegas Chapel with a drunken parson and a missing ring and a visit to a cinema on the other side of town where we see (cue scary music) the Wolf Man, who is first captured then shot, making it not the best part of the evening, but that’s the way it goes sometimes in show business.

And all the while, unbeknown to the innocent, unaware earthlings courting, doing their chores and going about their daily lives, they are being infiltrated by aliens in the guise of Elvis clones.

The end sees a warning to us all as we are confronted by 10 of the clones as it appears the entire cast has been taken over. The advice? If it looks like Elvis and isn’t Elvis, it’s an alien.

The original stage version of Chairs and Seaside Rendezvous had plenty of scope for fun and Freefall, even in serious sections always seem to have a twinkle of mischief in their eyes and when the opportunity arises can produce glorious comic moments.

A visit from outer space didn’t offer the same scope for comedy but there was still some there, such as the three couples sitting watching the movies.

The amorous men with the wandering arms were firmly rejected until the horror movie started, after a short section of ads from Free & Fall of course, it is a show that a send up of Pearl & Dean.

Freefall have gone from strength to strength and really do prove that the language of dance is universal.

Roger Clarke



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