Barking Far From The Norm

Far From The Norm at the Broadway Theatre, Barking.  (c) Carole Edrich 2013

Far From The Norm at the Broadway Theatre, Barking. (c) Carole Edrich 2013

I don’t remember going to The Broadway Theatre, Barking before and it felt strange to be travelling outwards, away from London’s centre to get there. It made quite a difference. Not, as you might be expecting, in the professionalism of the production and dancers and not in the quality of the venue itself, but in the atmosphere and friendliness of the audience members I met. Even waiting at the ticket desk I had been included in a conversation and the people sitting around me were friendly and inclusive too.

Put aside East London Dance (they’re an exception), travel into central London and the only people who are comfortable chatting to me (I talk to anyone) are those who already know me personally, on facebook or as ‘that crazy photographer who is always hanging around’ so big up* to Botis Seva (organiser and Director of Far From The Norm) for attracting such a crowd.

It started dark, and with two exceptions the themes stayed that way throughout. It was sometimes too dark for my camera and definitely too dark for my friend who, at the interval, left me behind.  Botis and Far From the Norm delivered three short pieces and one Youth performance, including the investigation of the extent that the back can be used to express feelings and a hilarious stereotype-exploding exploration of physical theatre.

Far From The Norm at the Broadway Theatre, Barking.  (c) Carole Edrich 2013

Far From The Norm at the Broadway Theatre, Barking. (c) Carole Edrich 2013

In Freedom of a Formless Kind, Sean Graham’s portrayal of the changing roles of black people in the UK against the sound tracks of commentary on the three big riots. His careful use of movement to convey multiple meanings and the way he repeated certain dance phrases spoke of the slow evolution of the black person’s role here and the sad inevitability of history repeating itself. This piece took me right back to the scariest part of the 80s and I’m still processing what came from that this morning.

Alias London’s piece reflected the evolution of their home style and #PPL Dance Company performed an engaging energy-packed piece that combined pleasantly precise patterning with coordinated chaos. I’d like to get much closer to the dancers of Spoken Movement to see their faces better as they perform an investigation of what creates (and more overtly destroys) beauty was a welcome change from the stereotypical stuff that I’ve seen on the subject in the past.

Was my friend right? Was Botis’ curation barking up the wrong tree? Not in my opinion. The audience loved it, it’s just past Halloween, these people believe in what they dance and some of the pieces moved me or made me think.

The evening ended with a varied Q&A involving audience and artists. While the dance forms here are still comparatively new and the artists enthusiastic to display and discuss the works they’re creating some things never change. The pain expressed by Botis, responsible for creating and delivering such an event and some of the pieces within it is no surprise at all. Far from being far from the norm, with much of art it was ever so.

Far From The Norm at the Broadway Theatre, Barking.  (c) Carole Edrich 2013

Far From The Norm at the Broadway Theatre, Barking. (c) Carole Edrich 2013

*it’s my blog, I’ll use the words I want to. Besides in this context congratulations is stuffy and could be considered condescending