’Spring Loaded‘ season: preview



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’Spring Loaded‘ is back with six weeks of work by up-and-coming choreographers. Time Out previews a must-see season with its programmer Eddie Nixon

  • ’Spring Loaded‘ season: preview

    StopGAP Dance Company at 'Spring Loaded', April 8-9 (image © Nick Robertson)

  • Originally conceived in 1987 by John Ashford, theatre director of The Place, ‘Spring Loaded’ was once the most reliable barometer of where the winds were blowing contemporary British dance. A dozen years later, facing the new millennium and the prospect of a thoroughly revamped building, Ashford decided to give this annual platform for emerging talent a rest. But only temporarily, as it turned out.

    Last year ‘Spring Loaded’ bloomed afresh with Ashford’s number two, Eddie Nixon, assuming curatorial duties. Under his guidance it has again become an invaluable means of discovering what’s happening and who’s hot – or not. The six-week season spotlights nearly two dozen choreographers or companies over 28 nights. ‘We’re tying to catch people at a particular moment in their careers,’ explains Nixon, taking a breather from 40-plus hours of interviews for the first round of The Place Prize 2008. ‘Some are five, six or even ten years down the line making their own work, maybe alongside a career as a dancer; they might not have enough of a track record to attract a decent enough grant to fulfil their ambitions. But they’re on the cusp, with the potential to become some of the biggest voices in dance in the next few years, and we want to support them. The ‘Spring Loaded’ brand just gives them an added profile or prestige.’

    Nixon won’t play favourites. It wouldn’t be fair. What he will say is that his programme is ‘a cross-section of the various angles contemporary dance is veering off into within the current generation of artists. I’m excited by the look and feel of it. Audiences won’t be seeing something tried and tested. The way to enjoy a season like this is to come more than once and talk about it with friends. You only get the real measure of it by taking a couple of bites out of contrasting things.’ Risk-taking is easy when tickets go for a fiver if you book early, with a top price of only £15.

    The good news is that there’s plenty to recommend. Things get off to a spirited start this week with a something-for-everyone showcase for the talents of Theo Clinkard and Antonia Grove, aka Probe. Next month Rosie Kay’s company works up a sexy, sardonic sweat in ‘The Wild Party’, wild man Robin Dingemans teams up with the fearless Joanne Fong, and Hanna Gillgren and Heidi Rustgaard of h2dance wax political in the ensemble piece ‘To Die For’. Other highlights include a top-notch triple-bill by Ben Wright’s bgroup, Sally Marie reworking an excerpt from her women-in-wartime epic ‘Dulce et Decorum’ and Beth Cassani’s pre-pubescent sons in a little gem of a double-act.

    ‘Spring Loaded’ is at The Place, Mar 27-May 17.

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