When Baroque met contemporary dance in a unique collaboration at St. John Smith’s Square

A rehearsal shot

Choreographer Julia Pond and Conductor Crispin Lewis of the baroque music ensemble, The Musicall Compass, teamed up at the St. John Smith’s Square’s ravishing concert hall on October 26th to put together a night of contemporary dance and JS Bach’s motets. The motets were sung one-to-part and a capella by eight singers who were joined on stage by two dancers, Mel Simpson and Nicolas Bodych.

In this rare performance, the dancers not only performed on stage with the ensemble but danced with them as well.  The Bach motets filled the hall with such wonderful buoyancy and delicacy that it was easy to see how Pond’s contemporary choreography could lend itself well to these classical compositions. The dancing on stage was fluid and Lewis’ choir was exceptional. They were completely in synch and harmonised beautifully together. It was really neat to see the choir actually start to move together with the dancers which is something you do not see every day in such a traditional concert space.

One of the highlights for me was when two of the singers broke off unexpectedly from the choir and started to join the dancers attempting to imitate their graceful movements. It brought quite a comedic moment to the piece and showed both a sense of humour and theatricality. When I asked Julia what inspired her to collaborate in such a classical setting she said “I was really excited about the piece because working with dancers and musicians is something I love and this was a chance to do it in a very interesting way”.   A collaboration of this kind is interesting for sure and also full of potential.

Conductor Crispin Lewis seeks “to explore the possibilities of interaction between musicians and dancers” and if one of his objectives is to spread the beauty of baroque music to a wider audience, I think he is moving in the right direction. For more information on The Musicall Compass please visit http://www.themusicallcompass.com and to see more of Julia Pond’s work please visit http://www.juliapond.com. St. John Smith’s Square http://www.sjss.org.uk/.

About Melissa Palleschi

Melissa Palleschi New York actress living in London and trained in Italy, New York and here in London at the Actors Studio. She is also a founding member of the Planktonic Players, who made their London debut at Camden Fringe Festival in 2012.

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