Review: Forty Years of Phoenix at York Theatre Royal

The Phoenix Dance company are internationally renowned and are presenting a programme to celebrate their fortieth birthday. The evening features work by award winning choreographers who can showcase talent and brilliance in a programme of differing and memorable pieces.

By Angie Millard

Pave Up Paradise was my favourite dance. It referenced the Adam and Eve story with spoken word and the acoustic arrangements of Jeff Buckley and The Strokes but above all it is witty and funny.

Signal is inspired by the frenzy of the battlefield and is danced to Japanese Taiko Drums.

Harmonica Breakdown takes the mournful sound of the blues to follow one female dancer’s struggle for self-respect and dignity during the depression.

Family is an inventive, acrobatic representation of family life choreographed by Shapiro and Smith with the use of a battered armchair, centrally placed.

In Heart of Chaos, former Artistic Director Dashan Singh Bhutter offers a tribute to Jack Johnson, a heavyweight, African American boxer. Through his tempestuous life, Johnson challenged segregated sport and the piece reflects his violent struggle.

Artistic director, Dane Hurst says that he has chosen iconic pieces to represent the past forty years but it was a challenge to select the five works which distil the breadth, depth and richness of what dance can achieve.

I was impressed by the sheer physicality and precision of what I saw tonight and exhilarated too. The dancers were: Reynaldo Santos, Alabama Seymour, Natalie Alleston, Aaron Chaplin. Shawn Willis, Yuma Sylia, Mirabel Huang Smith, Matthew Topliss, Alana Cowie and Melina Solocleous.

Forty Years Of Phoenix runs at York Theatre Royal until 24 November 2021.