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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Don't Go (Chapel Off Chapel) - 46 minutes

Relationship often start with sizzle and succumb to pressure and misalignment between parties. Lion Heart Dance Company has cleverly captured that with movement and song.

Don’t Go is characterised by star turns from principals Jemma Craig and Andrew J Liu. They are dynamic leads.

As the saying goes, the “lovers” are “all over each other” at the start of the 46-minute piece. Their lips lock frequently. They are emotionally attached. So, it is not hard to see why Andrew presents Jemma with an engagement ring.

Photos by PRIDE Productions

But – and there was always going to be a but – that closeness was clearly going to have an end date.

Work pressures, tiredness, frequent unanswered phone calls, disagreements and hurt get in the way.

In fact, things get quite narky between the couple. They are heading in different directions.

Jemma and Craig are supported through their journey on stage by six other dancers, who effectively constitute a Greek chorus.

Dressed in bright colours of blue, green, yellow, pink, orange and purple, they are reflective of what is going on with the pair.

They sit in the background of the story, but ride every bump.

All but one of the music tracks director Benjamin Cure has chosen are by New Zealand ARIA-award winning singer songwriter Kimbra. She is known for mixing pop with R&B, jazz and rock elements.

The dancing – jazz and contemporary – is impressive. The leads and ensemble are nimble and expressive. As a result, there is real feeling in Don’t Go.

Three further significant pluses in the production are the costuming, set design and lighting.

Black and white with polka dots is the go for Jemma and Andrew and I have already referenced the multicoloured hues of the ensemble.

Two banks of multicoloured lights (four in total) – stage left and right – are complemented by four spotlights from above and behind that set the mood on black and white striped flooring.

Lion Heart Dance company was established in 2015 to create purposeful work in the dance industry. Don’t Go is a fine example of that.

The accomplished octet – aged between 21 and 30 – leave it all out on the floor and are “sweating bullets” by the time they receive a rousing reception after Andrew reflects on what could have been.

Don’t Go is playing at Chapel Off Chapel until 5th March, 2023.


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