River project saturday 7th August

When I saw the flyer for the river project I was really excited. Promised as a collaboration of mediums and backgrounds I cleared my saturday evening to go down and see the outcome of 18 months hard work.

The venue retort house was an amazing space with a lot of history. Although upon entering there wasn’t much guidance about the upcoming events I eventually located a program and was left to stand around until the lights were suddenly turned off and we were allowed to roam the now completely dark building. An attempt to set an atmosphere just seemed to result in being dangerous and strange.

What I could see of the building was grand. I am a firm deliver in keeping our historical buildings and using the spaces instead of building new ‘modern’ tasteless spaceship style places. Yes I am referring to the bullring and now the upcoming library it seems the history is being sucked out of birmingham. So to see an building celebrated and used for something different was refreshing.

The programs and leaflets were beautifully designed a dancer jumping across a skyline of buildings. (See above). Implying the event was to be a magical energetic night. Although perhaps I should have looked at the website. website

First on the agenda was a video displayed on a huge wall. The use of the space was well thought out and gave a very dramatic impact. Sadly the video didn’t have quite the same effect. Maybe I missed the point but the collaboration of different background just seemed to be a badly put together combination of flailing arms. When explained to be an interpretation through dance knowing the diverse backgrounds from around birmingham I expected more of a variation.

I can understand the use of ordinary people creating dances who may normally not be represented but perhaps a clearer example of their story could have been portrayed. A possible use of costumes and a clearer message would have had a bigger impact upon the audience. The tap dancing lady was the only one that left an impression but the way in which she was portrayed was slightly sinister. Only supported by a floating dress in an adjoining room.

However the animation work was inspiring. The video work itself was well put together with a variation in style and lots of creativity showing even with the dullest content a film maker can create a beautiful scene.

My lack of understanding was only confirmed when the host felt the need to explain. While I felt an explanation was needed and remained open minded he seemed to say an awful lot without really saying anything. I was left baffled and all of a sudden everyone was rushing about. Left standing with some elderly ladies who said they would “rather go to the irish centre” I realised had I been able to actually see my program there was a tango taking place. I can’t really comment as I couldn’t see over the crowds of people.

I did however manage to catch a glimpse of the tap dancers who rushed on and off but never the less were good.

Prams live music was also entertaining I think if they had played along with the video in the first place I would have appreciated their presence more but having already heard what they had played I was left a little bored.

In all I believe a lot of effort and thought went into the initial idea but it wasn’t delivered nearly as well as it could have been. With all the talented dancers around birmingham a collaboration of backgrounds could have been portrayed with urban,tap,ballet and many other dancers who really know how to tell a story would have been a little bit better.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kristian
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 15:03:00

    Good article! I wholeheartedly agree with you about the erosion of culture through “modern” architecture. Sounds like it was an interesting evening!


  2. Arthur
    Aug 13, 2010 @ 00:44:47

    ur blackberry its goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooone. where’d it goo?? come back to me!


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