Dance Umbrella, London’s celebration of cutting-edge dance, is reinventing itself under the directorship of Freddie Opoku-Addaie. The programme for the 44th edition, which runs until 23 October, extends from the avant garde to a mass outdoor community event in Lewisham. It also has a substantial digital programme – perfect for me when I couldn’t get to an opening; perfect for the dance curious everywhere. A pay what you can digital pass is available for the rest of this month.
It offers rich pickings. Choreographer Nora Chipaumire made her live DU debut last week, but she was also there digitally with the sensational #PUNK, a visceral film in sharp black and white by Ari Marcopoulos that captures the intensity and challenge of Chipaumire’s performance with dancer Shamar Watts and musicians Dave Gagliardi and Austin Williamson.
On a tiny stage, surrounded by an audience both wary and engaged, Chipaumire throws down a gauntlet to racism, but also to theatrical form, conjuring the spirit of punk to create an event that constantly upends expectations. That the movement is astonishing is almost beside the point, but it is.
Calixto Neto also performed live, but online you can see his rehearsal with the choreographer Luiz de Abreu, who passed on his radical solo O Samba do Crioulo Doido to the younger dancer after he lost his sight. It’s moving and revealing to see the interchange, to understand how a twitch of the shoulder blade can be music as well as gesture.
Meanwhile, American dance provocateur Abby Zbikowski, chosen by Stephen Petronio as his choreographer of the future, has used her commission to make Radioactive Practice, a film by Jeremy Jacob that showcases her interest in steps that are rooted in life, full of sporting strength and crouched energy, spilling across a variety of urban settings.
In Say: AF (And Friends) Sarah Golding and Yukiko Masui use a similar idea to completely different effect, the setting of a supermarket and an empty theatre allowing them to build a loose-limbed yet fiercely controlled duet, full of friendship and support. With two films from Oona Doherty as an added bonus, it adds up to a terrific and engrossing resource, an excellent add-on to the live events.