On Stage: TAN, Newport Riverfront

Welsh history came alive on Friday evening as Harnisch-Lacey Dance’s double bill Spin and TAN premiered at Newport Riverfront.

Dance trio Daniel Ovel, Jacob Smart and Tom Tindall mesmerised the audience in the opening 20 minutes of the show with Sandra Harnisch-Lacey’s 2014 Edinburgh Fringe success Spin. A breathtaking demonstration of modern dance, Spin was a performance tight in synchronicity but showing flair of contortion was only a taster of things to come.

The second part of the evening saw the premiere of TAN, a dance based drama inspired by Wales’ journey to reclaim its cultural identity. TAN combines elements of contemporary dance, breakdance and parkour performances while exploring the universal themes of identity, freedom and power of transformation.

The centerpiece of the production is a 1930s arson attack in North Wales by dramatist Saunders Lewis, poet Lewis Valentine and novelist Di Williams following the century long purposeful decline of the Welsh language within school and the enforcement of the wearing of The Welsh Not for any child who chose to disobey their peers wishes.

The production portrays the three men as defenders of the Welsh culture, defying segregation and bringing to life the brilliance of Wales past, presence and future.

A combination of contemporary music, soundscape and video clips of Wales’ cultural history were liberally intermingled with the dancers’ powerhouse dance performances including the historic arson attack on the RAF bombing school in Penyberth.

Rather than just recall history, TAN also enforces the message of the ongoing importance of the freedom of the Welsh language and as my 12 year old daughter pointed out brought the words of the Welsh National anthem into clarity.

Suitable for older children upwards TAN is a must-see show bringing together Welsh cultural history and the finest in contemporary dance. There’s a further chance to catch TAN at The Met in Abertillery on March 12 and The Gate Arts Centre, Cardiff on March 18. Visit harnischlacey.com for details

  • A version of this review by Andy Howells was published in The South Wales Argus on March 2, 2015

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