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> > > DaDaFest International 2014: Lisa Simpson's 'Brought to Life'

24 November 2014

The digital world meets the natural world in choreographer Lisa Simpson’s enchanting professional debut. Inspired by Goldsworthy’s ephemeral sculptural artworks, this new dance piece explores growth, change and the environment. Review by Cate Jacobs

Brought to Life is an experience that moves in and through you and touches emotions that have lain dormant within and are slowly awakened for the first time. Within minutes my eyes were brimming with tears, which almost daren’t spill. 

Lisa Simpson developed The Simpson Board as a tool to enable herself and others with limited, or no speech, to create their own work. And what Lisa manages to communicate from within is a fusion of music, movement and visual imagery that dances across the stage and wends its way back inside of us, the audience. Her choreography allows us a unique and profound glimpse of her rich internal landscape. It is an opportunity for Lisa to be ‘Brought to Life’ in unimaginable and dynamic ways.

She has a very collaborative style of working that involves the dancers in a workshop process to develop the ideas for the piece, taking into account the varying levels of experience and the individual physical needs of the dancers. The Happy Mondays attend the Kirkby Activity Base, and this was their first dance performance as a group; joined by professional dancers, Rachel Baldwin and Joe Cawley. The process gave the dancers a strong sense of autonomy, which was evident in the Q&A session at the end of the performance.

The depth of connection and cohesiveness between all the dancers was clear from the way they moved together and the energy that seemed to pulse gently between them and out to the audience. There were subtle moments of improvisation from Rachel and Joe, when dancers needed to be repositioned on the stage, which flowed with incredible grace and sensitivity and added to the overall poignancy in the relationship, connection and communication between the dancers and to us.

Ellen Turner, digital dance artist, paints the space with light and exquisite images that clearly take their reference from Goldsworthy’s work and add a rich and changing backdrop to the stage, giving a deepening layer and dimension to the overall effect of the piece. 

The music, by Lee Affen, commissioned especially for ‘Brought to Life,’ is evocative with an ethereal edge, it too moves through you, stirring the soft silt of dormant places within. It is played as a recording except for the tambourine, which is played live and is a clever devise to provide cues for the dancers.

‘Brought to Life’ is a magical performance and Lisa Simpson is the Pied Piper who blends it all together through her skilful choreography leading us on a journey with her, through the performers and artists that she brings together.

I hope that one day soon Andrew Goldsworthy too has the opportunity to be present at a performance, to see how art, although often created or conceived individually, has a life of it’s own in terms of the influence it has upon others.

Please click on this link to see the full programme of events lined up for DaDaFest International 2014 in Liverpool

Puppet designer Tony Mason talks about working with Sophie Partridge on his blog

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