Irie! the black spirit - Review by Bill Harpe

Submitted by root on Mon, 06/18/2018 - 17:27


Dance is no more than a virtually undetectable small blip on the profile of the recently established National Curriculum for schools. It can surely only be because this Curriculum has been created by a non-dancing quango.

For dance, as the IREI! Dance Theatre (who are on national tour; for information telephone 081-6916099) demonstrated recently at Saltaire's Victoria Hall in the company of students from Bradford's Belmont Middle School, can be simultaneously sweaty and spiritual, repetitive and thought-provoking, and physical and philosophical.

IREI!'s programme, prefaced and concluded by serious and excited contributions from the school pupils created during workshop sessions with the company, offered two views from a changing cultural perspective.

At first, this youthful and talented ensemble of seven dancers wore tie-dyed leotards and tights and [move] moved with animal and sculptural grace through a haunting and pre-recorded sound-track inspired by the breath of life (choreography by Raymond Wilkes and Albie Ollivierre, music by Zap Mama and Albie Ollivierre).

Later, they returned to dance to drums in traditional African fashion, making use of sticks, and beads, and carvings to give meaning to their engrossing rituals and rhythms (choreography and music by Peter Badejo). However, whatever the historical and stylistic differences between [to] the two parts of this programme what they have in common is a concern with social [issued] issues as explored through dance drama - with freedom, containment, struggle and transformation and with power, leadership, corruption and transformation.

Dance may, it is true, be virtually invisible on the National Curriculum; but cultural diversity is not. Surely a company such as IREI!, with its juxtaposition and fusion of African, Caribbean and British forms in a production such as The Black Spirit has a leading part to play when it comes to cultural diversity; and perhaps also a long term part to play in the re-education of those that decide on our National Curriculum.

Irie! Dance Theatre  visited the Blackie in both 1992 & 1993 - if you want to read further about their work click here