Didy Veldman Presents Umanoove in THE HAPPINESS PROJECT
The Happiness Project has been on Veldman's mind for five years and she's brought together a cracking team of four dancers to realise it: Dane Hurst, Estela Merlos, Hannah Kidd, and Mathieu Geffré. Musically she's chosen one of the best as well, Alexander Balanescu, Romanian violinist and composer...Balanescu and the four dancers do a stunning job individually and collectively. (DanceTabs)
"We're all interested in being happy," says Didy, "and The Happiness Project examines the idea of happiness as something we strive for, as something fleeting, something that can be very elusive or even absent. My aim is to find a common language between the movement, drama and the music on stage in my investigation of western society's endless search for fulfillment and to prompt the audience to wonder if the search for happiness is actually quite simple or a complex blend of inspirations."
This flowing, theatrical work was made in collaboration with dancers Dane Hurst, Mathieu Geffré, Hannah Kidd, Estela Merlos and composer/violinist Alexander Balanescu who plays live onstage and with whom Didy has worked frequently over the years.
The cast perform on a shiny black floor within atmospheric lighting by Ben Ormerod; mysterious boxes of 'things' appear onstage prompting characters to rummage through the contents; Balanescu moves around the dancers playing his exquisite music and at one stage conducts the cast's efforts at individual and collective laughter.
Didy is a keen collaborator and is working once again with designer Kimie Nakano. Kimie's design work includes The Three Dancers for Rambert, Carmen for Lithuanian National Ballet and The Little Prince for Les Grands Ballets Canadiens 'The Little Prince' - choreography for all by Didy Veldman. Kimie studied in Tokyo, Paris and London and has worked with Akram Khan, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, ENB, Sylvie Guillem and many more.
CAST and CREATIVES:
Choreographer/director DIDY VELDMAN (left) trained at the Scapino Academy; she danced with Scapino Ballet (Netherlands), Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève and Rambert and began choreographing in 1987, creating work for the repertoires of all three companies and many others. In 1992 she co-founded Compagnie Alias with Guilherme Botelho in Switzerland and won two major choreographic awards with her first piece.Her first storytelling work, 'Carmen', for Northern Ballet Theatre, was premiered in Leeds in 1999 and toured Britain; it has since been re-staged for Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal in Canada and twice for The Royal New Zealand Ballet and she has re-created the work for the Lithuanian National Ballet. Didy danced with Rambert 1994-2000 and has made work for, among others, Cedar Lake, Cullberg Ballet and Goteborg Ballet/Sweden, Iceland Dance Company, Ballet Bern/Switzerland; she was Guest Artist Choreographer at Jacob's Pillow in the US in 2010 and 2013 and recently re-staged 'See Blue Through' with Phoenix Dance Theatre and Introdans. She will re-stage 'Frame of View' for Danish Dance Theatre and 'The 3 Dancers', which she made for Rambert in 2015 will be performed in Oxford March 15th-17th and at Sadler's Wells May 16th-20th.
Alexander Balanescu is a prolific composer and visionary violinist. As leader of the Balanescu Quartet, he was instrumental in rejuvenating new music, revolutionising its repertoire and its relationship with the audience. He has regularly drawn inspiration from his collaborations with Pina Bausch, Meryl Tankard, Matthew Dunster (for the Royal Shakespeare Company) and Chiara Guidi and has worked with diverse artists including Michael Nyman, Gavin Bryars, David Byrne, Kraftwerk, Pet Shop Boys, Goldfrapp, Depeche Mode and Grace Jones.
DANE HURST is a South African-born, London based dancer, choreographer and creative director. He won the Critics' Circle, Best Male Dancer of the Year Award in 2014 and the Spotlight Best Emerging Dancer of the Year Award in 2007. Since 2004 Dane has performed with Rambert, National Dance Company of Wales and Phoenix Dance Theatre. He has created and performed his own work at the Barbican, QEH, Wilton's Music Hall, Linbury Theatre, The Place, Lilian Baylis Studio and is Artistic Director of the Moving Assembly Project in London and Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
MATHIEU GEFFRE trained in Paris and in 2009 he joined Dansgroep Amsterdam and performed in works by Mark Baldwin, Liat Waysbort and more; in 2011 he joined Noord Nederlandse Dans with Stephen Shropshire and was with National Dance Company Wales 2012-16 performing works by Angelin Preljocaj, Christopher Bruce, Alexander Ekman, Johan Inger among others.
HANNAH KIDD trained at Elmhurst Ballet School and London Contemporary; she performed with Richard Alston Dance Company 2007-13 and was nominated for the Critics' Circle National Dance Award for Outstanding Female Performer in 2012. Hannah is a member of New Movement Collective and has worked with Mark Bruce Company ('Dracula', 'The Odyssey'), Darren Ellis Dance, Scottish Opera and more.
ESTELA MERLOS performed with Rosella Hightower's Cannes Jeune Ballet (2004-2006 France) and IT Dansa (2006-2008 Spain) before joining Rambert in 2008. She has performed works by Jiri Kilyan, Christopher Bruce, Carolyn Carlson, Merce Cunningham and has worked with Didy Veldman, Shobana Jeyasingh, New Movement Collective. Her own work has been presented in Spain and the UK, and commissioned by Ignition Dance Festival, Wilton's Music Hall and British Spanish Society.
April 24th Exeter Northcott Theatre
April 28th & 29th Glasgow, Tramway, Dance International Glasgow
May 2nd & 3rd London, The Place
May 4th Bournemouth, Pavilion Dance South West
Photo credit: Chris Nash