Dancers’ tribute to pit life

Eliot Smith Company is embarking on its spring tour.
Eliot Smith Company is embarking on its spring tour.

Paintings will spring to life in new dance work which is set to be performed in Berwick, Bamburgh and Warkworth.

ESC, the Newcastle based contemporary dance company, will present a double-bill of work as part of its spring tour, funded by the Arts Counicl.

Choreographed by the company’s artistic director Eliot Smith, Pitman tells the story of the miners through dance interpretations of six of the paintings of the Pitman Painters that are on permanent exhibition at Woodhorn Museum.

It played to sell-out audiences in Newbiggin and Newcastle at the end of last year and will now feature as part of the tour, alongside We Got the Beat, created especially for the company by the American choreographer Maurice Causey, who is now based in Amsterdam.

Original, very physical and abstract, this is contemporary dance at its best and the perfect foil to Pitman.

The tour started in Newbiggin yesterday, (Wednesday), and will take place at Berwick’s St Cuthbert’s Community Hall on Saturday, Bamburgh Pavilion on Saturday, May 6, and Warkworth Memorial Hall on Saturday, May 13, finishing at Newcastle’s Dance City on Friday, May 19.

This looks like being a particularly eventful year for the company.

In January it was invited to Rome to perform, and it will be part of this year’s Northumberland Miners’ Gala in the summer.

Eliot himself has been awarded Associate Artist status for 2017 by Dance City.

He went to New York in February, having been awarded an international development grant to research the work of the American choreographer, Martha Graham. Eliot is a powerful advocate of the Graham technique and is determined to keep her name and work alive in this country through his teaching and choreography.

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