DANCE | “AGELESS” at Riley Theatre

We asked our new writer, JHANVI CHARKHAWALA, to review Ageless: A Dance Celebration Defying Age and Embracing Diversity at Northern School of Contemporary Dance’s Riley Theatre

In a remarkable showcase of unwavering spirit and boundless energy, the Riley Theatre recently witnessed a breathtaking performance entitled ‘Ageless,’ where six extraordinary women over the age of 50 took over stage and danced their way into the hearts of the audience. The event was part of the preview for the ‘Museum of Colour,’ held on December 10th, marking a momentous celebration of dance, joy, and the unique journeys of these seasoned performers.

Directed and choreographed by the renowned Sharon Watson MBE, principal and CEO of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, ‘Ageless’ proved to be an enthralling testament to the fact that dance transcends boundaries of age, gender, and color. Accompanied by live music composed by Christella Latras and illuminated by stunning lights by Mark Baker, the dancers seamlessly flowed across the stage, captivating the audience with their passion and skill. The costumes were the cherry on the top and were designed by Ebony Milestone.

The twenty-minute performance felt like a fleeting journey through the themes of joy, celebration, and uniqueness. The crowd, unable to contain their enthusiasm, rose to their feet in a standing ovation as the performance ended, leaving everyone yearning for more.

The performers, Dawn Holgate, Seline Derrick, Pam Johnson, Joanne Bernard, Holisoa Andriambolanoro, and Sharon Watson herself, not only showcased their exceptional talent but also shared personal artifacts that held profound meaning to each of them. These artifacts were a symbolic contribution to the ‘Museum of Colour’, emphasizing the significance of personal narratives within the broader context of cultural heritage.

Joanne brought her picture with her father to celebrate her relationship with him, Dawn got an afro-pick and hair oil to celebrate natural Afro hair, Seline got her dream journal that showcased her dreams and how she achieved those, Pam got her mom’s ball gown, Holisoa brought a traditional Madagascar scarf that represents her culture and Sharon brought a bowl that someone gave her and said that reminded them of her. 

The event, a significant part of ‘A Very British Rhythm’ which is an exhibition celebrating the contributions of dancers and choreographers from the global majority in British dance history, received support from Arts Council England, Foyle Foundation, National Lottery Heritage Fund, lottery players, People’s Palace Projects, and Queen Mary University of London.

Tickets for the performance sold out within 3-4 days, this performance was a remarkable celebration of dance and diversity. Although the event was captured on video for future release later in the year 2024, the atmosphere of the live performance was undoubtedly a unique experience.

Following the dance performance, attendees were treated to a glimpse of the ‘Museum of Colour’ through a short video presentation. Hosted by Samenua Sesher, the Founder and Director of the Museum of Colour, the event also featured insights from members of the Phoenix Dance Company—David Hamilton, Donald Edwards, and Vilmore James—who shared their personal journeys in the world of dance.

The evening concluded on a joyous note as attendees were served a hot meal in the café by Sugar & Spice, marking the perfect end to a successful and uplifting event that celebrated the timeless spirit of dance, diversity, and the enduring power of artistic expression. ‘Ageless’ stands as a testament to the fact that the love for dance knows no bounds and that it truly is an art form that transcends age, color, and time.