Amy plus Steppenwolf Syndrome (Double Bill)

“She wasn't abnormal. She was unique. Talented, unique, troubled, young.”

Whether Amy Winehouse's life is something that interests you or not, the struggle and pain of this character and her turmoil is fascinating subject matter and translates well into dance movement.

Athena Dance Company have brought this insightful dance piece to St Brides Centre as part of the Fringe. Based on the story of Amy Winehouse, this show has been created to delve physically into the life and experience of this troubled young women.

Choreographer Afina from Moscow says “I was looking for forms of expression of the intimate mood swings and great range of emotions, battle with inner demons that lead to a crisis & a broken body”.

The four dancers involved create this idea beautifully and work to compliment the choreography. A strong mix of classic ballet lines and elegance mingled with the angles, edges and contortion of a much more contemporary style. The dancer playing Amy has a fantastic understanding of the balance of strength and form, whilst still perfectly portraying the broken down and animalistic darker elements of this piece.

I did find the male dancers a little awkward, however, with the more modern and contemporary choreography. Their timing was a little off and not as tight as the rest.

What compliments this wonderfully are the well thought out musical accompaniments and lighting design. A lot of the soundtrack to this show is clips of Amy Winehouse being interviewed and when the dancers achieved perfect synchronicity, even whilst dancing to this subtle and almost abstract choice of track, it really does achieve moments of perfection. There's was something strong too in that only one Winehouse song actually features in the whole show. The rest are various other soulful and bluesy tracks that encompass the feelings perfectly. It might not be Amy Winehouse's music but you can feel her all over it. The lighting as well was simple; two free-standing bars at the back and some simple coloured or white washes. It was extraordinary to see such beautiful still – almost photographic – frames of movement being created all the way through. The thought-through artistry was so evident.

Whether Amy Winehouse's life is something that interests you or not, the struggle and pain of this character and her turmoil is fascinating subject matter and translates well into dance movement. The small cast don't shy away from the more dramatic elements either, making it at times feel mime-like and literal, as well as more symbolic at other points. As Amy's voice echoes round the room saying “I don't know anyone else like myself” it's hard not to feel like Athena Dance have come somewhere very close to understanding. 

Reviews by Hannah Lucy Baker

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The Blurb

Amy: What was it that led Amy Winehouse to self-destruct? Choreographer Afina from Moscow says ‘this show is an examination of the great range of emotions leading to a crisis and a broken body with Amy's tragically early death as a case in point’. Steppenwolf Syndrome: Six Bolshoi Theatre ballet dancers interpret the release of a sensual Dionysian world from the centuries-old yoke of Christian civilization -the desire of the individual for spiritual freedom. A personality divided where Wolf indicates the dark side of man withdrawn from the depths, reconciled with conscious life.

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