REVIEW: Rosie Kay’s ‘Fantasia’, Birmingham Hippodrome


Rosie Kay breaks convention once more as she brings her latest dance piece to the stage, which began its UK tour with a world premiere at the Birmingham Hippodrome. 

The result of two years of intense study and creative inventiveness, ‘Fantasia’ pushes the boundaries and explores the limitlessness of dance as a medium to inspiring and encouraging emotion.

The piece is split into three parts – Part 1 is dedicated to the sun, Part 2 to the moon, and Part 3 to the Earth, fitting given the gritty naturalness of the movement. 

Kay sets her movement to a Baroque score, which features iconic music from the likes of Beethoven and Vivaldi, and the subtle golden hued lighting and mirrored floor hint at the grandeur and elegance of the period. 

The three different costumes used each give birth to a new style, theme, and therefore emotion, each one complementing the choreography by enhancing and defining outline and movement. 

Dancers Shanelle Clemenson, Harriet Ellis and Carina Howard barely leave the stage, performing tirelessly for one hour in a performance that never falters. A display of impressive energy and dedicated athleticism, they perform Kay’s choreography with the necessary emotion, sometimes joyfully, sometimes pained, as with their bodies they probe the depths of what dance can accomplish, and what it can mean to the individual.

Through her unique choreography, dance is deconstructed as Kay inquisitively breaks down and analyses movement, interprets and reinterprets form, and acts and reacts to style. The choreography fluctuates between movement that is soft, delicate and gentle, performed with exquisite grace, underscoring the beauty and refinement of dance, but it is also strong, sharp, and intense, with a discordant energy and primal passion, exposing a raw power and hidden pain. 

The premise of the piece was to explore what it is that makes dance beautiful to watch, and there is a beauty to this piece which allows for the unadulterated exploration of what dance can do. Kay looks at the science of dance, and harmonises this with the art of dance, to produce something that explores creative freedom, and its ability to mean different things to different people. Dance as an art, as a means of expression, as something that can evoke pleasure, pain and pity, is fiercely and endearingly celebrated.

‘Fantasia’ really is a composition that breaks all the rules.

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