I went (nearly) a week without a phone and this is what I learnt.

Inlove with my phoneA millenial without a phone. Is there a greater modern day tragedy? (Probs yes but shhhh.)

Last week, after a rather late night at the theatre I arrive home at 11.30pm exhausted. I stumbled through the front door and headed straight for the bathroom to take my makeup off and head to bed. I had done the hardest bit of the day, but the bathroom floor was too tough a match for my shiny Samsung and its glass screen.

I heard a thud and on picking up my phone saw there was a small crack in the corner that seemed to grow at an alarming rate. I’d have to get it fixed. So on Friday morning I sent it away, at least having time to warn my nearest and dearest I’d be off the radar for a bit. Here’s what I learnt over my phoneless time.

  1. You can adapt very quickly

After the initial outage the repair was going to take longer than I anticipated I adapted weirdly well for someone who usually is surgically attached to my device. Over the weekend it was even kind of pleasurable not to have the intrusion of continuous WhatsApps and notifications, and if I did want to get a message across Facebook messenger would suffice when I got to my laptop. People will just work out whatever it is themselves if you’re not around to answer.

… And while we’re talking WhatsApp, they really should allow you to use the web function without using your phone for authentication. The only reason I want to use WhatsApp web is if I don’t have my phone!

2. It’s worth remembering two of three important phone numbers when these situations arise.

Most people I know haven’t remembered phone numbers since primary school but for some reason I had always known my husband’s and my mother’s number. It proved really useful and meant I could borrow someone else’s phone if an emergency call was needed to just let someone know where I am and for a highly anxious person like myself this was really valuable.

3. OMG What time is it?!

This drove me crazy. How was I meant to catch a train or do anything on time without my phone to keep me in check? I once found myself checking a receipt for the time – I could decide if this was hideously archaic or rather quaint.

It was a relief to discover my tablet had an alarm function half way through my phoneless week. My only option prior was to get up the same time as my husband in the week (6.15am) when I don’t need to be up until 8am.

4. The only things I really missed were data when travelling, WhatsApp and Uber.

I’m on the train a lot and this is usually when I mentally go through my to-do list and message people accordingly. Other than not being as productive as I wanted in this way it was kind of fine. Most stations have Wi-Fi so I could do all my app stuff then too.

5. I read a book for the first time in ages.

I don’t read books all that much. This is largely down to an anxious disposition and the feeling I should be doing something more important and less self indulgent than read when I have a spare moment. But with no phone I positively whizzed through a 400 page novel I was saving for my holiday next month. I didn’t need to think “oh I should stop at this chapter and do …” because there was no other entertainment if I was Wi-Fi-less. It also made me realise my attention span is not as bad as it could be.

6. Dear God, how did people make arrangements to meet up before mobile phones?!

Instant messages give us SO much flexibility and ability to be so flaky without appearing rude (unless you do it all the time). If you don’t fancy doing something you already agreed to you can send an apologetic message an hour before and it’s cool.

I was going to the theatre with a friend on the Friday evening. I sent what felt like a rather dramatic message on Thursday evening to said friend saying we should meet at 6.15pm at a specific location if I couldn’t contact him before. It felt so make or break. What if we couldn’t find each other? We had to both be on time, in London! It felt such a ludicrous thought but we did both manage it, in fact we were both a little early with this added pressure.

7. It could have happened at a much worse time. 

It’s August. Everyone is on holiday. I’m not waiting for important calls regarding jobs, houses or sickly relatives. I told myself this every time I felt antsy about not being contactable.

8. Getting it back will be the greatest thing in the world.

You will do a small cry of relief knowing you can re-join the world again as well as the satisfaction you functioned pretty well without.

 

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Tero Saarinen Company, Morphed at Southbank Centre 10/08/17

Morphed02_hi-resFinland’s Tero Saarinen Company last appeared in London in 2008 with Next of Kin, a piece widely regarded as deeply unsettling. It featured ghoulish makeup and costuming, the kind of theatrics Saarinen is so fond of.

By comparison, Morphed appears rather tame. However, the pleasure Saarinen takes in creating this brand of indefinable work is still evident in this intense slice of interplay among a band of seven performers.

Morphed premiered in Helsinki in 2014, has toured internationally since and has now reached the Riverside Terrace in front of the Royal Festival Hall building as one of the many elements of the Southbank’s Nordic Matters festival. It examines the relationships between its cast members using Saarinen’s signature style of choreography, which blends brutal and aggressive movements with …

Read the full review on CultureWhisper.com

Flamencura, Paco Peña Dance Company at Sadler’s Wells 08/08/17

untitledA flamenco show is always easy to spot when you take your seat at the theatre. The stage is stark except for a few unevenly placed chairs. The performers are left to do all the work here and that includes 75-year-old Paco Peña, along with his small but effective ensemble of singers, dancers and musicians.

Flamencura was first seen by London audiences in 2015 featuring a slightly alternative cast of dancers to now. The non-narrative line-up of ten key numbers has been fine-tuned and polished, allowing for maximum impact.

The two female dancers are the stars of the cast, their contrasting styles both alluring and engaging as they undulate against the traditional wailings of the two singers, Inmaculada Rivero and Jose Angel Carmona. Whether the vocals are appealing to you will be down to personal taste.

Read the full review on BroadwayWorld.com

English National Ballet’s Romeo & Juliet at the Royal Festival Hall 01/08/17

R&JEnglish National Ballet have done little wrong of late. Only recently in Tamara Rojo’s tenureship audiences have marvelled at ENBs two contrasting Giselles, and just earlier in the year a remarkable contemporary triple bill. Why then, revive Nureyev’s rather drab and dated production of Romeo and Juliet when balletomanes have so much affection for the much celebrated MacMillan interpretation?

The hardworking corps feel cramped on the shallow and restrictive stage which distracts from the extensive detail in Nureyev’s choreography. Act I begins tentatively however Prokofiev’s rousing score lifts the iconic ball scene and the company rise to the occasion. The experience is enhanced further by the opulent costumes in rich shades of contrasting red and green for the rival groups.

It’s only a shame the intricacies and detail in the corps distract our attention from the main action. This said there is still much to appreciate and enjoy..ENB are a company with many rising stars in their ranks and it’s a pleasure to marvel at their top to bottom talent. Precious Adams gave a wonderfully regal stage presence and Sarah Kundi was eternally energetic in the tightly choreographed interplay between the Montagues and the Capulets.

R&J2Individually Erina Takahashi is a flighty, skittish Juliet and despite her experience she is all too believable love struck fourteen-year-old Juliet. She is a dance who can carry the weight of this role with delicacy and vulnerability. Isaac Hernandez’ Romeo is wistful and dreamy. His leaps light up the dingy Festival Hall stage however as a pair these two left me unsatisfied. Despite Takahashi’s tiny stature, the what should be effortless lifts and throws seemed clumsy and under-rehearsed. I got less passion and more sweet friendship resulting in less emotional investment in their plight.

The final tragic scenes feel laboured are some lengthy build up and the final image of the Capulets and Montagues embracing each other on sight of the deceased lovers will be a trifle too saccharine for some tastes.

Alison McWhinney took ownership of the role of Rosaline in a elegant, ethereal performance. Her fleeting floating and purity of movement always eye-catching.

Of course Nureyev’s production is not about the women. The men are the true focus, not just Romeo but we are indulged in plenty of blokey bravado from the leaders of the rival groups. There is some particularly enjoyable sword swishing from James Streeter’s majestic Tybalt and some accomplished exhibitionism from Fernando Bufala’s Mercutio, bum-wiggles et all.

Sadly the entire production is plagued by clunky and awkward scene changes. Curtains creak, and beds bang as they are disassembled all of which detracts our focus from the protagonists. The Festival Hall setting simply lacks the right atmosphere and amenities for such a large scale production.

ENB commit pluckily to the worthwhile cause, however Nureyev’s cluttered choreography and at times laboured storytelling means this Romeo and Juliet feels like an unnecessary struggle for a talented company.

Also published on LondonDance.com

Image credit: Dave Morgan

Tanguera at Sadler’s Wells 20/07/17

1. The cast of Tanguera. Photo credit Alex RumfordTango sensation Tanguera first premiered 15 years ago in Buenos Aires, promising an authentic take on the provocative and sensual spectacle with a 30-strong ensemble cast.

Unlike the frequently seen tango showcases of recent times, Tanguera tells a story. It sometimes chooses to drop and pick up the narrative to suit its cause, however its depiction of La Boca and the journey we take through it’s various neighbourhoods, cafes and brothels make it unique and universally enjoyable.

A picture of innocence, Giselle (Melody Celatti) is quite literally fresh off the boat, wide-eyed and expectant. Of course, within 30 seconds she has fallen in love with smouldering dockworker Lorenzo (Esteban Domenichini) and what ensues are a series of contrasting scenes displaying tango in various locations, all hanging by the thread of their love story.

Read the full review on BroadwayWorld.com 

Dorrance Dance – ETM: Double Down at Sadler’s Wells 12/07/17

dorranceDorrance Dance is an New York based tap dance company who have made it their mission to “blast open” our notions of tap through experimentation with the capabilities of performers as both dancers and musicians. In the case of ETM: Double Down this is done with an earthy, rhythmical take on tap, utilising electronic triggerboards. This is a show where the dancers are also the musicians.

The show is so intensely technical one is entirely absorbed by these dancers fulfilling the role of musicians, while the remainder of the company dance to their uniquely coordinated rhythm, introducing hip-hop, street and contemporary moves to the stage simultaneously. Dorrance’s newest collaborator, b-girl Ephrat Asherie, brings her signature energetic style and finely nuanced footwork to the stage, mightily impressive for someone who claims to only dabble in tap.

The choreographic episodes of the first act are non-linear, and start as simple musical loops that are slowly built up and broken back down again by dancers atop platforms.

Read the full review on CultureWhisper.com

Kevin & Karen Dance at G Live, Guildford 16/06/17

lg_20160922144753_82We’re getting towards the end of Strictly tour season. With so much choice it’s now a necessity the professional dancers try something a little different to mop up the last of the spare change in the Strictly faithful’s back pocket. Recently Janette and Aljaz brought us their homage to Fred Astaire and Joanne Clifton swapped dance for musical theatre with a stint in Thoroughly Modern Millie. Now we have Karen and Kevin Clifton giving you their life story in dance, choreographed by Strictly and Burn the Floor’s, Jason Gilkison.

Generally speaking, Karen & Kevin Dance will thrill Strictly lovers with it’s varied dance styles, storytelling and humour from start to finish. The Clifton’s presentation of their story is naturally charismatic whilst remaining deeply personal and their fans will be captivated by this dreamy fairy tale.

First published in Dancing Times – July 2017