Rosemary Lee’s Square Dances – Gordon Square (part of Dance Umbrella www.danceumbrella.co.uk)
12 performances of Square Dances were held in each of Woburn, Gordon, Queen and Brunswick Squares over the weekend of 8/9 October 2011. I attended the 12pm show in Gordon Square.
Knowing that I was to attend a performance where all the dancers would be carrying handbells, I imagined them as some sort of rhythmic punctuation to an energetic country-style dance, perhaps vaguely Morris or maypole like. The name, Square Dances, also reinforced this impression. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The bells were not used to mark time, they were the music – a specially written score by Terry Mann – and created a haunting, ethereal sound which was even slightly disturbing at times.
The choreography appeared to be more ballet than folk inspired. Entering suddenly but softly into one end of the square, the more than 100 dancers conjured up a feeling of nature coming to life, as if the spirit of the place had appeared to share its joys and sorrows with the audience. The execution was flawless, movements flowing together as the performers spread out throughout the garden, or come together in one large group under a tree. After 15 minutes of delight, the dancers gracefully slipped out through the opposite end from which they had entered, the sound of the bells gently fading away as they moved further down the street.