Phoenix Dance Theatre turns 30!

Monday 21 November 2011, 14:15

Francesca Tortora Francesca Tortora

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Phoenix Dance was formed in 1981, making this November their 30th Birthday. For Daniel Corfield - BBC Performing Arts Fund Producer Fellow at the Phoenix - this was a great opportunity to kick start his placement. With a moment to reflect, Daniel tells us how he got involved with the celebrations.

"If there's one thing I've learnt while working at Phoenix Dance Theatre thus far it's that they love a good reason to celebrate, and what better reason than the company turning 30!

My role in the celebration was to arrange the parts of the event that accompanied the performance; basically making sure that everyone had a drink, a nice meal and some music to dance to! I also managed the invitation list, helped track down some old friends of the company, and liaised with the building staff to make sure everything ran smoothly on the night.

Phoenix Dance Theatre 30th Birthday cake

The most challenging task I was involved in was arranging the music for the performance. Many pieces that were performed hadn't been worked on in quite some time so most of the music was only available on cassette tape, not the easiest format to work with in this digital age! With some help from the performers and a lot of time with some editing software, the music was soon ready to go and in a slightly more convenient format.

Seeing some of the former members of the company was a great experience - a rare insight into what makes a company like Phoenix special. The whispers outside the studio of "is so-and-so here? I haven't seen him in 20 years!" and the excitement of reuniting with old friends showed a passion for the company that never leaves you. I also got the chance to sneak in and watch some of the founder members teach a class with the current company and other past members, something I never thought I'd get the chance to see. It was an opportunity for the former members to show that they definitely haven't lost it!

After the preparations were almost over it was time for the party to begin. The staff looked great dressed up in our finest (if I do say so myself) and I felt incredibly lucky to be working with such a hard working bunch. Everyone played their part and made sure the event went well and without any last-minute hiccups.

The performance was a brilliant selection of some of the key pieces from Phoenix's 30-year history performed by past dancers, the current company, and Phoenix's youth academy. Opening the night was a performance by the founding members of the company, a piece that proved that 30 years on they can still have an audience both entranced and in fits of laughter, eventually bringing the entire audience to a standing ovation. The performance featured extracts from some of the earliest pieces of Phoenix's repertoire including - a personal favourite of mine - The Forming Of The Phoenix, which gave a light-hearted look at how the company came together. Phoenix's Artistic Director Sharon Watson took to the stage during the evening to perform a rendition of Covering Ground, a performance that featured captivatingly intricate movements and a charming back and forth dialogue with current company member Genevieve Watson. Closing the night was Melt, a piece from the current Phoenix repertoire, choreographed by Sharon. With a soundtrack by local favourites Wild Beasts, Melt shows the current company at their best, featuring spectacular aerial work that perfectly enhances the performance of the dancers.

After the performance came the party! Music, food and a chance to catch up with some old friends… oh, and a brief rendition of Happy Birthday while Sharon and David Hamilton (Phoenix's original Artistic Director and founder member) cut the cake! For me it was time to breathe a sigh a relief, have a glass of champagne and enjoy the evening.

This was easily one of the most rewarding projects I have worked on and having the opportunity to work on an event like this after such a short period of time with the company was a great way to start my Fellowship with Phoenix."

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