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Review: Aaron Baksh / Made in Paradise / Legacy Youth Zone

One of the most inspiring aspects of the Croydonites programme is the showcasing of local artists and performers and tonight’s offering was exceptional in that regard.

First on the bill, four young performers from Legacy Youth Zone, premiered new pieces choreographed by Croydon-based Aaron Baksh, Movement of the Youth and New Beginnings. Beginning in unison, the four talented dancers demonstrated their grace and strength as they reached and spun, cartwheeled and tumbled across the space like ocean waves. A solo from each performer followed, all danced with energy and poise. Pirouettes, cartwheels and spins were confidently executed, creating a sense of possibility and a celebration of physicality.

Next up, the five Made in Paradise dancers promised a free trip to Mauritius in Sega, a traditional dance style from the island – and they didn’t disappoint. Dedicating the first dance to Le Morne mountain, where enslaved people sought refuge, the dancers dressed in white started with gentle swaying movements that gradually built up to energetic hip rotations and spinning in formation. Two higher energy dances followed, the dancers moving forwards and back, up and down to the joyful rhythm. As their white satin skirts swirled, they resembled the iridescent interior of a seashell and our transportation to a tropical beach was complete.

The final performance was a premiere of Exodus, a work in progress by Aaron Baksh exploring themes of migration and home. Three dancers, dressed identically in earthy tones, told a vivid story of isolation and connection, of supporting each other, of feeling exhaustion and fear on physical and emotional journeys. With Aaron taking a strong balletic lead, the trio stretched and rolled separately and side by side, giving way to more connected and embracing movements. As the piece progressed, the coming together and moving apart told the story of what might be possible through understanding and community.

Each of the performances tonight showcased the power of the human body and how dance and dancers can transport us from our own postcode to other places, times and lived experiences. A moving evening.

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