Review: VERVE 2016 @ Riley Theatre, Leeds – ‘a smorgasbord of rich ripe talent’


Almost Poetic by Anton Lachky. Photo credit: JoshHawkinsPhotography

Twelve postgraduates of Northern School Of Contemporary Dance provide the line up for VERVE in this unique showcase of immense raw up coming talent. Split into four separate pieces each section is by a different highly esteemed choreographer and all are equally tight in presentation and slick smooth choreography with each of the dancers getting spotlights to shine.

Thank You For Coming (choreographed by Efrosini Protopapa) sees the party of all parties take place and delves into the delights and oddities of social gatherings. The dancers give us a piece that is both set and free-styled with its frenetic moves that are equally seamless with the dancers en masse moving as one around the stage (a visually engaging theme that runs through the show ) As this tasty little entree finishes and the cast announces “ Thank You For Coming” your appetite for the next three servings are well and truly aroused!

A Soft Target (Athina Vahla) is a punchy thought-provoking piece focusing on manipulation, wants and desires. Pulsating and sexy this set leaving you without a moment to catch your breath. As a barefoot Kai Tomioka tap dances to Vivaldi you cannot help but be wide-eyed with wonder and awe at just how hard he hits the floor, each controlled sharp slap of his feet transfixing audience. The effect is immense. From Vivaldi to a brilliant musical merge into Eminem where Chris Hurst rides ramrod straight atop of the backs of two other dancers Roman chariot style a scene which is utterly compelling.


Thank You For Coming by Efrosini Protopapa. Photo credit: JoshHawkinsPhotography

The Thin Veil (Renaud Wiser) focuses on how group dynamics change when individuality is tested. With the ensemble donning expressionless white masks the effect is disturbing and enticing. As the set picks up pace and tempo we are under a spell of hypnotic movements which are repetitive and strangely alluring giving us the impression of waves on the ocean gently lapping forward then receding. Simply stunning.

The finale is titled Almost Poetic (Anton Lachky) which celebrates the energy of these vibrant young dancers. Each and every one of them lights up the stage in such a way that it is impossible to ear- mark a stand out star and as a collective the way they move as one is breathtaking. Throughout the entire show your attention and focus is not lost for a split second and at times your eyes darting from left to right wanting to absorb everything that is taking place. It is captivating, superbly energetic and downright sensual in places! I urge you to catch this smorgasbord of rich ripe talent before they are snapped up by elite companies and make their gold standard mark on the dance world, trust me you will not be disappointed!

Reviewed by Amanda Wignall at Riley Theatre, Leeds on 26 February 2016. See for tour dates.