Double Joy; Mampara Summer Showcase Review
Joy and dance
To say dance is my life is excessive, but it brings me joy, and is my passion. Much of my writing is dance-related and my photography practice investigates movement. I have somatic experience of 120 dance forms, I created DanceGRiST to help dancers, and much of my pre-Covid life was built around learning new dance forms and dance practice. I’m telling you this so that you understand how much I have missed dance over this awful interregenum, and how Mampara Dance’s Summer School Spectacular brought a double dose of joy.
My first post-lockdown dance shoot
I miss dance (I think you got that), but that changed on Sunday 4th July where I photographed Mampara Dance Company’s 2021 Summer Showcase. It was a beautifully put together school show, entertaining to more than the parents and families there, and had some lovely moments. While I shot the whole thing, end – to – end, I reflected. Shooting an unfamiliar choreography is quite like partner dancing. You need to find ways to follow the patterning, show the performers in their best lights, anticipate and position yourself to shoot the most photogenic moments. For me it is an all-consuming, participative, artistic act of love. I’ve missed that buzz!
Interested in the photography? Here are some tips
About the show
Natalie Hunt, Creative Director of Mampara, produced a Disney-themed event. Company members – whose ages vary from 4 to 45 years old – performed to a variety of Disney songs from Lion King, Hercules, The Jungle Book and Mulan. They had been in rehearsal from September, and had planned for this to be a Christmas Show which – of course – proved impossible. Undeterred, Natalie rescheduled the Christmas Showcase into a summer one, and worked in rehearsals online until conditions were more stable.
Interested in Mampara Dance? Look here
Mampara – a story in miniature
The challenges Natalie and her Company have faced to get this performance up and running are a story in miniature of the challenges every dance company has faced since the advent of Covid-19. It’s a tribute to Natalie, her team and LAMDA that the show wasn’t cancelled because of the financial struggles felt by the whole sector and because of the uncertainty of whether or not another lockdown would stop the show this time as well. Rehearsals have been on and off because of illnesses. Zoom requires a whole new set of techniques for teachers and choreographers, not least unstable internet connections, latency and the limits of only being able to see through a laptop or camphone on a screen.
Pdf on the story in miniature and other journalistic techniques here
That notwithstanding, the show went well. The audience loved it and the mix of lyrical and commercial jazz, Charleston and Fozzy-style Pom dance and collaborative improv fit the performers and the tracks. There is joy in watching children dance anywhere. A special joy when they perform on a professional stage with adults. It is a lovely thing to hear that at least one Mum was up there, dancing with her little girl. The LAMDA stage is a nice venue, and the music an added dimension. This soon after lockdown we’re all looking for authentic shared experiences, and new ways to make connections, and the double joy of shooting and experiencing Mampara dance was a wonderful gift. Safety considerations permitting, it would be nice to be able to share the joy with more than parents and families too.
Choosing a performance dance school for your child?
Mampara is a lovely community and dance school. I know a good few others. But I have heard some horror stories. Not every dance class or school is right for every child. So I wrote this https://dancetog.wordpress.com/2021/07/25/choosing-the-best-dance-school-for-your-child/