Review: Shoreditch Youth Dance Company – 5th Yr Anniversary Performance

An eclectic evening of works, buddying professional dancers with new talent and celebrating Shoreditch Youth Dance’s  (SYD) 5 year anniversary.

It’s the perfect ending to a weekend that showcases a diverse array of solos, duets and ensemble work. SYD members past and present, SHIFT (the Place’s youth dance company) and professional artists – Melanie Lomoff, Gwyn Emberton and Dane Hurst – graced the stage.

Lee Smikle, founder and Artistic Director of SYD, is clearly an inspirational figure to the dancers, shown by compassionate messages at the end of the night. Lee trained at Rambert School of Ballet & Contemporary Dance and has had a prosperous career being a core member of Matthew Bourne’s Adventures in Motion Pictures & New Adventures companies for many years. Bourne attended the platform along with a sellout audience, everyone seeming to embrace the creativity oozing from all seven pieces that hit the stage.

SHIFT combines humour with a yearning to find out what is to come in That Was the Future, choreographed by Ben Duke, Artistic Director of Lost Dog. The piece is decorated with insights into each of the company members’ personalities with short bursts of energetic movement from all the dancers. Climaxing into a slow motion scrabble to get across the stage, the dancers’ facial expressions, of being hit in the groin, sent tickles of laughter around the audience.

Shoreditch Youth Dance - photo Donilo Moroni
Shoreditch Youth Dance – photo Donilo Moroni

Following SHIFT’s performance Hurst performs an excerpt from O’Dabo, which he also skillfully choreographed. O’Dabo translates from Yoruba as ‘goodbye’ or ‘until I see you again’ and is inspired by the journey from youth into adulthood. The Rambert Company dancer tumbles with ease and finesse. Punctuating seamless phrases with jolted full stops chalk dust ripples off Hurst’s toned skin, clad in just material that covers his nether regions. Heavy costume is not needed with his continuous and enchanting lines – a powerful ending to the first half.

#Onwards completes the programme, choreographed by Lee in collaboration of SYD dancers and is a celebration of all they have achieved whilst accepting the possibility of the Company ending. #Onwards is about the natural chaos and beauty we experience in everyday life. Moving on.

Rich unison is sliced with pleasing pathways as dancers drop in and out of the main action. The fully embodied physicalisation of this indulgent, internally driven choreography surely is a representation of Lee’s dedicated influence of being a pioneer of creativity in young people, communicating outwards to audience members. This is seen throughout the evening from work choreographed by SYD members and alumni, including a boisterous trio choreographed by Joey T Barton and a journey of existence in a solo from Muti Musafiri. I am keen to see what comes from these ingenious dancers in the future.

Unfortunately, however, there is an uncertainty about the future of SYD as Richmix are no longer able to provide free space and without any core funding SYD are struggling to find elsewhere to be based. Lee leaves us with hope that this is the end of the beginning and that he will try to make it possible for the company to continue. In an era of austerity for the arts it is our job to continue to inspire new generations of dancers and keep the UK at the forefront of delivering high quality dance.

If you would like to help support this innovative youth company to keep providing these creative opportunities for young people please email:

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by Nick Kyprianou

Richmix, London, Sunday 21 June 2015