One Small Step
Choreography by Dora Frankel, music by Peter Coyte
Dora Frankel Dance
The Apollo Pavilion, Peterlee
The Apollo Pavilion is an architectural artwork by Victor Pasmore. Construction began in 1969 - when it was named Apollo after the NASA mission which landed on the mon - it was completed in 1970. Built of reinforced concrete in geometric planes (reminiscent of the National Theatre), it spans a man-made lake and was intended to blend with the estate in which it stands. By 1980 it had become a focus for much anti-social behaviour and, in 1981, a campaign was started to have it demolished. However it has since been renovated and restored through a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
This introductory historical note is important, for it is around the Pavilion and its history that choreographer Dora Frankel has created the site-specific dance piece One Small Step. In fact, it is not just site-specific; it is also a promenade piece which begins with the two dancers, Holly Irving and Natasha Kowalski, in grey hoodies meeting at the far end of the lake, making their way along the side to the building, performing on it, then moving to the other end of the lake, so the audience needs to follow them.
The whole history is encapsulated in the dance (although not in strict chronological order) and the essence of the site explored. The hoodies, representing the antisocial behaviour period, give way to colourful geometrically patterned sixties dresses and tights and we experience the optimism of the period as we listen to the recordings from the Apollo mission
We watch the dancers explore the planes of the Pavilion, squeezing between massive concrete blocks, climbing to the highest point and seeming, at times, almost about to fall. The space as a children's play area is explored on skateboard and bike.
In short, One Small Step is a celebration of both the Apollo Pavilion and its time, and a reflection of the duality of its iconic nature and the playfulness it so obviously inspires in the children who before and after the performance used it as a play park.
Dora Frankel's movement language reflects the nature of the space and the two dancers really bring the space alive. One Small Step is a very accessible piece as was evidenced by the reaction of the very varied audience which ranged from young children through a large number of teenagers to adults of all ages.
Reviewer: Peter Lathan