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What’s it like to experience dance up close?

Nicola Burgess helps and advises promoters in Mid-Wales and has worked closely with Night Out rural touring. Here, Nicola blogs about her experience seeing Panta Rei Dance Theatre up close at Aberdyfi Village Hall. Panta Rei are one of the six Rural Touring Dance Initiative companies touring work to rural areas across the UK this autumn. Here’s what Nicola had to say…

Dance usually requires a lot of room. Dance companies traditionally are comprised of a large number of dancers, and their bodies need a lot of floor space to move around in, and high ceilings for leaping and bounding.

But what would it be like to witness dancers up close in a small rural venue? After all, rural touring tends to require small scale, paired down performances that will fit into village halls and small communal spaces. To ask dance companies to fit their programmes into such spaces would surely be to ask them to make a compromise that would be detrimental to their work?

This is not the case with Panta Rei, a touring dance company from Norway. Their show I Wish Her Well is a poignant portrayal of the passing of time in which we are brought up close to the performers in an extraordinary but never uncomfortable way. When I first saw it, I was surprised to find myself weeping quietly, along with a large number of the audience, after the first twenty minutes. Surprised because I wasn’t expecting to be so moved by something as ‘abstract’ as dance and surprised by the startling realisation that I totally ‘got it’ despite having no training or background in dance.

Panta Rei – “I Wish Her Well”

The piece does have a heart-rending soundtrack that sweeps you along as it evokes the bittersweet theme of the passing of time and I was enchanted by the extraordinary tenderness communicated directly to us by the dancers. The beauty of their bodies, the gentleness and warmth of their movement, and their generosity towards us the audience, was hugely affecting. But I can’t help feeling that just being allowed to be closer to the performance made the experience incredibly powerful.  It was a rare opportunity to get near enough to experience dance properly.

Panta Rei is touring their work around the UK thanks to the Rural Touring Dance Initiative, which was launched last year and aims to bring contemporary dance to village halls and community venues around the country. You can find out more information about this wonderful project here and find out if any of the dance companies involved are coming to a village near you here.

Nicola blogs regularly on the powys promoters website.