When I first described contemporary dance to a work colleague, he looked a little puzzled and then said “so it is like throwing a shape then?” and I said, “Yes, I suppose it is”.
If you have not tried contemporary dance before, find a class as it nothing like pretending to be a tree but as succinctly put by my colleague, it is “throwing a shape” but in the most beautiful and imaginative way you can.
I (try to) attend jAM jAR’s dance class at the Friendship Centre in Southsea, which is lead by Jamie Roberts and Claire Littlefield who are the directors of jAM jAR Dance Theatre Company.
I have been dancing for some 14 years in the style of contemporary dance after a friend of mine asked me to be in her A level dance exam piece; I became hooked and her teacher invited me back to study at Portsmouth College in the Adult Education Classes.
Although jAM jARs class is for teachers and professionals, they do make everyone welcome. I have certainly been stretched physically and mentally at their class. After a days work in the office, I am often tired, however, as they rotate a different style of contemporary dance every four weeks and both Jamie’s and Claire’s styles are different, it stops your interest from wavering.
Their eclectic choice of music from Muse to some French stuff that no one could understand (except the French student) also gives you a strange wave of strength as your body is almost carried along with the melody as you place your body and limbs in beautiful and wistful structures, often for a matter of seconds. However, as one famous choreographer once said “the music helps you to see more of the dance”.
Even if you feel you can’t dance, go and see some contemporary dance. The Spring (Havant), New Theatre Royal (Portsmouth) and The Point (Eastleigh) all regularly host contemporary dance companies. You’ll spend an evening memorised by how exquisite the human body can be in “throwing those shapes”.
For more information about jAM jAR Dance Theatre, check out www.jamjardancetheatre.com
Paula J T Gilfillan
Photo: Jam Jar Dance Theatre