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  1. On Friday evening (23 Oct 2013) at Jacksons Lane, North London's Creative Space Theatre, we gathered for Juggling on Tap's latest iteration of Rhythm Town, first seen at the bijou Rosemary Branch Theatre, London, last year.

    The cast: Stewart Pemberton - Juggling and Tap.  Magnus Mehta - Percussion. Eimear McGeown – Flutes & Irish Tap.  Avalon Rathgeb – Rhythm Tap.  Marie Gabrielle – Tap, guitar and vocals.

    Though Peta Lily, their artistic director, said before the show, this original creation is hard to define, the outpouring of multi-talented energy held the audience rapt and riveted.  Her artistic eye and experience have developed this nascent theatrical show to a new level.

    The various fields of creative arts melded before our eyes and the quirky Dha to Hodgi beginning, established the original take these players had on the journey on which  they hoped to carry  the audience.  The train suggested itself with the breathy low staccato tones on the flute and the rest of the cast provided their own beat-box style puffs of a steam train. The Catching Trains section had us looking all round the stage as the tappers danced and glided their travelling tale, and segued into an amazing tour de force of Indian vocal rhythms and hand beaten sequences on the tabla drums which were exactly echoed with sparkling energy by the tap dancers, Avalon and Marie, whose feet took wing in response to Magnus's ever more complex sequences. Extra cream on top of this knickerbocker glory of a confection was to see Eimear’s tripping fantastic Irish dancing, her feet positively flying before her.  

    Then the mood changed into ethereal Celtic wistfulness, with Eimear's flute and Magnus's vibes floating us to a magical dreamspace, as the music drifted, evoking tranquil green islands, mist wafted on stage, and Stewart, with his shining spheres, light gleaming through them, mesmerized with effortless movement, so we believed the spheres were dancing, floating around him, on his arms and fingers.

    Then Avalon morphed into a small child, into her pyjamas, reluctantly, and the teeth cleaning mime, powered by tiny percussion, charmed us.  Her dreamtime then saw spoons being played on her upended tap shoes, and counting juggling ball sheep, as she fell asleep. The elements of panto charmed children and adults alike, and Marie’s gentle guitar and singing lulled us into believing that Avalon had fallen asleep. Again we were in a small dream story.

    In their finale, ‘5 go wild’, Eimear established the mood with a funky jazzed up version of Bizet’s Fantasy and the whole cast wound themselves up following the relentless beat of Magnus’s percussion and the hypnotic rhythm of Stuart’s five bouncing white balls.  As the whole cast joined in, there was an edginess to see all of the non-jugglers being trusted by Stuart to ‘keep them balls bouncing’... and flying, while they were all the while dashing hither and thither playing keepy uppy, with Magnus hand drumming at one point on three different instruments.

     They did go wild, as did the audience when it came to the terminus. Huge enjoyment and fun, all belied the months of thought, planning and sheer guts which precede such a creative triumph. They made it look like they were playing, and they were playing, with us.

    5 stars!

  2. With Tony Blair's green light some years ago for more faith schools, and Michael Gove's 'free' schools agenda, yet another kick about with our education system, making it even more fragmented, I am wondering what exactly was in their minds when bringing in these changes. 

    Did they expect open, happy learning environments, with enquiring questionning minds being drawn out to explore their world with wonder, curiosity and joy?

    Well, folk who adhere obsessively to rules set up in the tenth century, who segregate boys and girls , who clearly class girls as second class, want women to walk around wrapped in  heaps of cloth, tend not to be open minded, well rounded individuals. Their only raison d'etre for setting up a free school would be simply to indoctrinate their outdated and perverted version of Islam.

    Was it wise to give such entrenched narrow minded people carte blanche in our education system, to pay our tax money to support such practices?

    And Michael Gove why are you throwing away the National Curriculum? It was Maggie's idea remember?

 


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