AFTER DARK: Dancing to a new beat

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Indy Lifestyle Online
It's impossible to calculate how many column inches have been written about club culture over the past few years. Journalists have written essays on every subject, from DJs to promoters, and dress codes to bouncers. But few have focused on one essential component of clubbing... dance.

"Up Close", a collaboration between Spitz Arts Centre and Chisenhale Dance Space, promises a mixture of daring and interactive new performances inspired by a desire to fuse club culture with contemporary performance and dance. The end result offers strippers, voyeurism, private languages, hedonism and club culture as performance themes.

It may sound a little like Peter Stringfellow's latest idea for a theme bar, but "Up Close" is essentially a celebration of the contribution that club culture has made to contemporary dance.

"The audience will be encouraged to join in the shows," says Tris Dickin from The Spitz.

"Performances will be interactive, almost like a promenade performance that goes on all around you."

The diversity of the performances mirrors the wide range of genres that London's clubland has to offer.

Bustin' Moves offers a club dance crossover performance by Jonzi D (above right) with UK DMC Champion DJ Pogo. Hip-hop artist and choreographer Jonzi D has MC'd with The Young Disciples, and performed with MC Mell'O', Courtney Pine, Urban Poets Society and Quite Sane.

Those who attend Bustin' Moves will find it difficult to tell when the "performance" starts and ends. The entire concept is freestyle in nature. As the performance continues, the audience will be encouraged to join in before the DJs take centre stage.

Jonzi's description of the show is the best guide; "Freestyle hip-hop dance jam featuring old skool b-boyz. From pop-locking and breaking, to lyrically motivated movement, jazz, tap and phat beats. Taking it back to '88, so wear your trainers for some party ... no bullshit!"

Other performances broaden the theme base to incorporate subjects as diverse as Flamenco, tap, lap dancing and life after death.

Solo Body Theatre, with Kavitha Gilkes, fuses Indian classical genres with contemporary improvisation and Asian underground DJs.

In The Face of a Stranger examines the hedonism of modern clubbing - two individuals in a club looking for someone, anyone, to share the night with.

Stripper Stories, with Carol Brown and Josephine Leask, explores the desires that underpin any kind of performance. Both have previously worked as "bar-girls" to sustain their performing careers. Stripper Stories draws from these experiences and considers how "performing" and "serving", while table dancing, makes the human body a consumable commodity.

"People see dance as being a distinct genre, but we're trying to break down the barriers between dance and club culture," explains Tris Dickin. "London is supposed to be the world's capital of club culture and we wanted to reflect that diversity.

"So far people have been booking for three and four events in one go, so we're quite confident that they'll experience something a little different to what they're used to.

"Dance has made a great contribution to club culture and we're trying to make people aware of the link between the two. It's not just DJs and music but the people in the club who make a night successful."

'Up Close' runs to 17 March at the Spitz, Old Spitalfields Market, 109 Commercial Street, London E1. Telephone the box office (0171-392 9032) for a list of events and bookings. All performances start at 8pm. Tickets pounds 8/pounds 6 (two or more shows at a concessionary rate)

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