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Spring – a season to celebrate dance and female artists by Emma Beatty

A DANCE FESTIVAL (and one opera)
The New Theatre Royal (NTR) has its “first ever festival of dance and visual theatre”, with everything from ballroom to ballet via sci-fi and contemporary. There are some big names – The Ballet Boyz performed back in March, but on 21 May contemporary dance boffin Wayne McGregor’s company is coming. McGregor’s many talents include choreographing movement for the Harry Potter films, but he’s most known for his hi-tech science-inspired dance works. This one, Autobiography, is based on the idea of his own DNA – 23 short dance pieces to represent his 23 pairs of chromosomes. He’s collaborated with “software architect” Nick Rothwell to create a unique algorithm for each performance—different every night—quite a challenge for the dancers. McGregor often plays with ideas of randomness and order, like this, pushing his dancers to create wholly original movement.
 
 
Also at the NTR festival, Ockham’s Razor – an aerial theatre company –  bring a series of mid-air frames raised from floor to ceiling 10-11 May in which they lift, push and cradle each other through a sequence of windows and ledges. It’s part-circus/part-dance/part-theatre.
 
 
CLOD Ensemble defies categorisation; a company of dancers, actors and singers who “create an epic moving sculpture” in their new piece (16 May). It sounds intriguing, with its monochrome set and specially composed musical score counterpointed by “sounds of howling wind, downpours and thunderclaps”. It premieres at London’s Southbank in April before coming down here.
 
 
Traditional dance fans can also expect some old favourites too. Strictly’s Kevin Clifton himself is appearing on 17 May, dancing with partner Graziano Di Prima. And ballet fans can see Vienna Festival Ballet’s glorious dancing doll Coppélia on 25 May (3pm matinee).
 
 
Finally, one more NTR show to mention – OperaUpClose are bringing their 2011 Olivier-Award winning production of Puccini’s
La Bohème (25 April), set in jeans and t-shirts and sung in English.
 
ART EXHIBITIONS
Elsewhere in the city, Aspex has a futuristic season exploring the mixing of new digital media with more traditional forms. Its main show is work by long-established multimedia artist Maggie Roberts – who blends pixels and paint in a surrealist mix on themes of sci-fi and the interactions between human life, nature, and technology 5 Apr-23 Jun.
 
 
Jack House Gallery in Old Portsmouth goes from strength to strength this spring. First, it has The Sunset Portfolio lithographs 2018 (5 April (date TBC)-11 May), a new series of large lithographic prints by artist Caroline Walker full of her trade-mark lush colour and mysterious cinematic styling.
 
 
Then, there’s work by veteran US photographer Duane Michals—black and white images of New York in the ‘60s, “achingly nostalgic” showing the city frozen in time.
 
 
Then, 9 May-15 June, it brings two big names together in a show of lithographs by Paula Rego and Cathie Pilkington. Pilkington started collaborating with Rego in 2005 when she was asked to make props for one of Rego’s famous narrative paintings.  Their partnership went on and Pilkington made more models and mannequins to use in Rego’s works. This show celebrates these two great women artists who, though different ages, share a similar subject matter of transgressive femininity. You might have seen  Pilkington’s recent installation at Pallant House, Chichester: dismembered dolls limbs and eerie faceless figurines and pregnant dolls – strangely beguiling and disquieting.
 
 
And finally, Art Space on Brougham Road has more work by women artists in Heimweh (5-14 April), see Hidden Spaces on p.44 for details.


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