In November, Manchester dance company, Company Chameleon transformed Manchester Central Library through Illuminate, an extraordinary site-specific piece of dance, music and light art.
Commissioned by Library Live, the fully booked event, saw nearly 600 people being taken on a journey of seven stories around Central Library in a multi-arts performance.
Inspired by the seven plot-lines that underpin literature, each scene told a different story and focused on a different theme.
Set outside between the proscenium arches, the first scene, ‘Overcoming the Monster’ saw an ensemble of dancers, all dressed in black, explore the theme of overcoming one’s demons. Beautifully lit with accompanying live music, the scene saw a dramatic take-over of the library’s main entrance and presented the perfect beginning for the sited performance.
Following on, the audience journeyed inside the building to experience the library’s spaces in a way that had never been seen before. In every scene, the dancers responded to the shapes and architecture of the building, with stories being staged in The Shakespeare Hall, Performance Space, the Café and finally The Reading Room.
Original music, stand-out costumes and beautiful lighting combined in each of the spaces to create a truly memorable and unique experience of dance theatre, remarkably and uniquely, in a library!
In the final scene of ‘Rebirth’, all of the dancers in the cast were brought together to perform in the Reading Room. With dance sequences taking place in between the desks and the book shelves, magical energy and movement filled the vast space. The final moments saw the dancers gather in the centre and raise their hands upwards to the sky marked by the iconic dome in the room. A rapturous applause followed from the surrounding audience.
People in the audience said:
“I really enjoyed the atmosphere and seeing the library, especially the reading room, used with such imagination.”
“The performance was spellbinding with excellent use of the space in an engaging and fun way”,
“Exceptional…especially the way the performance used the building”.
“Surprising – loved it! Please do more”,
Reflecting on the production, Kevin Edward Turner, Choreographer and Director of the piece, said “Illuminate has been a tremendous success, the feedback and comments from the audience have been truly heartwarming… I felt that the team and I were able to create an engaging journey for the audience, transforming and breaking the conventions and perception of the library space. I have a long connection with the library; I would use the library as a child and still to this day I am in awe of the space. Having the opportunity to create and direct this work in such a landmark building was a huge privilege and has really raised the presence of high–quality dance in the city.”
Following Illuminate at Central Library, Company Chameleon will tour specific scenes from the production to branch libraries in the New Year. Look out for free performances at Longsight Library, North City Library and Wythenshawe Forum, 31 February-2 March 2018, further announcements soon.