REVIEW: Pitman @ Laing Art Gallery (11.11.16) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Simon Drew

The Laing Art Gallery naturally creates an exceptional setting for the latest contemporary dance performance by the Eliot Smith Company, in which dance represents art which represents life. It’s a night of fusion on many levels. A night where regional meets international: where the six strong, beautiful dancers of the Eliot Smith Company come together from all over Europe to perform We Got The Beat choreographed by internationally acclaimed Maurice Causey, an American choreographer based in Amsterdam and then Pitman, a local inspiration choreographed by Newcastle born Eliot Smith.

We Got The Beat is an abstract contemporary dance work which presents a wonderfully upbeat visual interpretation of Musica Ricercata by György Ligeti. Eliot Smith and his two principal dancers seem relaxed as they expertly play around with solos, duets and trios and yet they move as three rhythmic parts of a breathtaking whole.

Pitman is inspired by the work of the Pitmen Painters. Six of the original paintings are brought to life in a fresh and deeply affectionate way in costume, original mining memorabilia, local songs, music and of course dance. Choreographer Eliot Smith undertook extensive research to ensure that his new work is highly respectful toward these men who worked so hard at such great cost, and yet also experienced moments of great joy and satisfaction. The dancers convey the ups and downs of a miner’s life sensitively and powerfully, leading us on an enthralling journey into the way things were.

The inspiration of the Pitmen Painters has led Eliot Smith into previously unexplored artistic territory in a brave departure from his previous choreography. Like the Pitmen Painters before him, he’s fascinated by the fusion of the arts and the working class. He’s committed to bringing contemporary dance to new audiences across the region and has already planned a Spring Tour 2017 to bring Pitman back again to the communities that inspired it.

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