A brand new company are to bring two new world premiere dances to one of Wales’ most iconic theatres this month.
Cascade Dance Theatre will perform the new dances as part of the 90th anniversary programme at The Stiwt, in Rhosllanerchrugog, in the magnificent theatre built by local miners in 1926, the year of the General Strike.
The Cardiff-based company are on a national tour of Wales led by their artistic director, Phil Williams, whose own composition, Collidron, is one of the dances being unveiled.
It is a piece for five dancers which celebrates the centenary of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity with musical accompaniment on the spectacular percussion instrument the marimba – a sort of xylophone on steroids.
Board member Gareth Lloyd said: “We want to have a diverse offer at the Stiwt as we celebrate our 90th birthday and it’s thrilling to have an exciting new dance company here.
“It’s part of a fantastic season we have been presenting for our 90th birthday which has included music, theatre and a one-man show by our own local boy Stifyn Parri which went down brilliantly and this is a real chance to see cutting edge contemporary dance in North East Wales.”
Phil Williams, the son of an Ebbw Vale steelworker exchanged dreams of rugby glory for dance and trained at the London Contemporary Dance School but he has kept a sporting connection by producing on-field shows for the England and Wales Cricket Board in the summer.
In autumn and winter he returns to dance and now with his own company, Cascade, and he said: “There is a gap in provision for contemporary dance in small scale venues. I’m a boy from Ebbw Vale and there’s certainly not much dance up there so it’s important to get these shows into communities like that.
“It’s important for professional dancers to put on a certain scale of show that lets us turn people on and make sure people can still get excited about contemporary dance.
“You don’t have to live in a big city, you can live in small places and we will come to you and work in your community, do workshops and outreach programmes and then put on a show. We want people to want more.”
The show at The Stiwt on Tuesday, November 22, will also feature another brand new work, Poppet, a feel-good dance by Welsh choreographer, Jem Treays, and Quite Discontinuous, a darker piece by Dutch dance master Jasper van Luijk.
Gareth Lloyd added: “We are strongly supported by Arts Council Wales which enables us to bring something different like this to The Stiwt with three very different, totally engaging dances performed by five scintillating, hand-picked dancers.
“Our aim is to bring people in through the doors by giving our local population and the wider area what they want and it has to be a cross section of different things and as well as something as cutting edge as contemporary dance we have our traditional pantomime, Cinderella, starting in December.
“We’re also working to ensure the Stiwt promotes art in its widest forms and becomes a hub for the local community as well as a performance venue with a 450-seat theatre.”
The Stiwt was originally paid for by subscriptions from local miners in the tough days of the 1920s was saved by local people in 1999 thanks to a £2.1 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant, and it is resplendent again at 90.
As well as the shows it provides rehearsal rooms for the area’s five major choirs, holds regular dance classes and is launching a series of adult learning classes in a partnership with Wrexham iTec.
It has rooms of all sizes so that it’s home to the local community council and to groups from the local American Baptist congregation to Zumba classes.
It has a junior theatre group, Theatr yr Ifanc, and has launched a free junior film club with plans to start Stiwt Cinema Plus for older members of the community in January.
Gareth added: “We have a thriving older people’s community here and they remember the Stiwt when it was also the Palace Theatre cinema and I’ve been to talk to them to see what they’d like to see.
“They’d like the films from their younger days like the Bond movies but they also asked about The Full Monty and Fifty Shades of Grey and I said that wasn’t a problem, they’re all over 18.”