Derry-Londonderry's Echo Echo Dance troupe present an educational and interactive feast of fun for adults and children
In the very centre of Derry-Londonderry on a cold, wet and windy November night, there's a brick building not far away, right on the city wall, where dancing girls will strut their stuff and edify us all.
With apologies to Cecil Frances Alexander, the second half of that sentence may well be the motto of the Echo Echo Dance Ensemble, a collection of nimble and expressive young ladies who are embarking on their second annual Festival Of Dance And Movement.
Opening night sees the first of two performances of Ludo Lusi Lusum, a composition for children and adults directed by Ayesha Mailey and performed by Esther Alleyne, Janie Doherty, Kelly Quigley, Zoe Ramsey and Tonya Sheina. The title of three Latin words translates as "play, imitate, deceive" or "sport, banter, delude", depending on your preference, and this is exactly what we're going to see: a play on words and pictorial expressions through deceptively simple imitation of other forms of life. In other words, impressionist animalistic charades.
The first two thirds of the piece are a panorama of choreography and mimicry, an interactive game of Pictionary for both cast and audience. Ramsey stands out as a part-feline, part-canine werewolf, her whines, pants and growls the response to disciplined, direct orders from two other cast members. She's also called upon to pose as fruits, including a grape and a banana, but takes the dragon fruit posture a little too literally. Cue rather raucous laughter, especially from the children watching.
Soon afterwards, Alleyne's dead bluebottle must somehow be "resurrected" by doctors, nurses and a defibrillator (!) before we are treated to Ramsey's runaway bride owl and her "tour around the world". Locations as varied as Paris, Egypt and Madagascar are all visited, but best remembered are the owl's encounter with a snake charmer in India (which all goes wrong), and, for pop cultural enthusiasts, an ice bucket challenge in Antarctica. It's lively, overactive and haphazard - but it's also quite immersive and extremely educational.
The final third of the piece is, in general, more subtle and graceful, the Echo Echo Ensemble presenting an African-themed slinkathon of venomous moves and viperish poses that transform into a karate cum ninja ballet and later a vibrant circus dance. It would be the ideal conclusion to this patchwork of fantasies, but there's still another visit from the bluebottle (and a fly swatter!) to come.
In a mere half an hour, Mailey and the five participants have produced the sort of show worthy of their continuously improving standing in their cultural city. Here's to more of the same, if not better.
The Echo Echo Festival Of Dance And Movement runs until November 15 2014. For more information, visit www.echoechodance.com.