Verve’s Triple Bill: at Leeds Playhouse on 30 April.

VERVE delighted the audience with three exhilarating performances from 18 brilliant dancers.

VERVE is the internationally-touring dance company of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance (NSCD).

Verve Curtain Raiser – Home Sweet Home by Bruce Wong

The night began with a 6-minute piece Home Sweet Home, choreographed by Bruce Wong and performed by a group of talented Yorkshire dancers (aged 13-18) of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance Centre for Advanced Training. Home Sweet Home is an exploration of childhood memories, our relationship with the place we call home and with the past we leave behind or carry with us as we moved forward in life.

The young dancers had a great stage presence and did a fantastic job with the curtain raiser, which was met with applause from the audience and the enthusiastic cheers of their friends in the crowd.

A Field of Beauty by Matteo Marfoglia

A Field of Beauty

With the first piece of the triple bill, Matteo Marfoglia treats the audience to 17 minutes in A Field of Beauty. Its universal appeal lies at its core – the endless search for beauty in its multifarious forms that carry a unique meaning to the individual observer.

Opening against the other-worldly backdrop of Kaval Sviri by the Bulgarian State Television Female Vocal Choir, a mass of intertwined dancers dressed in hooded fuchsia gowns contorted their bodies to create surreal shapes in a futuristic ‘field of beauty.’

The smooth transition between scenes, each offering a different take on beauty, is aided by Branwen Munn’s thoughtful sound design and eye-catching multifunctional costumes by Fedro Gaudenzi. Chris Yates’ clever lighting design features what I would describe as reflective gold gongs, seamlessly incorporated into the choreography to create a spectacular lightshow.

The dancers show incredible skill, agility, technique and grace as they rise to the challenge of Marfoglia’s choreography that stretches the imagination through different projections of beauty

The unison of lighting, music, costume design, choreography and incredible performances makes for an impactful contemporary dance that takes the audience on a thrilling journey to discover, see, appreciate and ultimately feel beauty.

A Field of Beauty perfectly captures the essence of the old saying ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.’ Having said that, in my eyes, this was by far the most visually satisfying and moving performance of the evening.

Forget-me-not by Joy Alpuerto Ritter

The second offering of the evening – Forget-me-not, choreographed by Joy Alpuerto Ritter – is an exploration of family structures and relationships that takes the audience on an emotional roller-coaster through a series of family events – birthdays, weddings and funerals. In so doing, it lifts the veil on the private life behind a masterfully painted family portrait.

The dancers do an excellent job, embodying vivid characters from different generations, marching to the beat of their own drum as they navigate through complex family dynamics, rituals and a maze of emotions – happiness, sorrow, love and loss. Going deep into the fabric of a modern family, the dance conveys the chaos, the quarrels and dysfunction within, which are ultimately overshadowed by the characters coming together as a close-knit unit to celebrate life and support one another when times are hard. Forget-me-not feels relatable and true to life, as everyone is bound to find a character, event or emotion they can connect with.

People used to die by (LA)HORDE

Last of the triple bill is French artist collective LA(HORDE)’s adaptation of People used to die – a Jumpstyle-inspired choreography, reviving a piece originally created for the Montreal School of Contemporary Dance in 2014. Jumpstyle is a high-energy dance style, characterised by energetic footwork, rapid, rhythmic movements and a touch of acrobatics to the pulsating beats of electronic music. As Guillaume Rémus’s original score kicks off in the darkness, the audience is immediately transported to Western Europe’s Mainstream Hardcore techno scene. Then, the lights come on to reveal an urban set populated by the full company of VERVE dancers, dressed in joggers, crop tops, and hoodies.

In contrast to the other works in the bill, there is no search for beauty nor a story to be found. It’s a non-stop, manic, high-intensity performance delivered with unmatched energy. While the steps and gestures may appear simple, the challenge comes with sustaining this frenetic motion over time. The dancers come and go, passing the baton, but the Jumpstyle marathon goes on for a full 35 minutes. The seamlessly synchronized footwork to the ultra-fast tempo is a testament to the dancers’ super-human focus, coordination, precision, athleticism and stamina.

While the ensemble choreography created a gripping sight for the audience, I particularly enjoyed moments when each of the dancers had the opportunity to show off their moves, individuality and skill beyond the repetitive Jumpstyle gestures.


Working with accomplished international choreographers, VERVE takes audiences on a breathtaking journey through three unique pieces of contemporary dance. The 18 young dancers delivered three visually captivating and emotionally charged performances that did not fail to resonate with the audience.

As I mingled with the crowd at the end of the evening, overheard conversations kept going back to the stunning red robes of A Field of Beauty – a visual delight that left a lasting impression in the audience.

Company: Aline Simo Kamga, Anna Faustino, Annarose Atamian, Chiara Duccini, Elizabeth Jeanne Ortega, Emma Poyer, Esme Wales, Eszter Rápolthy, Gaia Sofia Tundo, Kaiya Jay Butler, Kseniia Yavtushynska, Leelou Lancel, Louis Baxter, Lucy Harries, Maëlle Le Pallec, Nahyeon Pak, Pierpaolo Cosentino and Silas Grocott-Cain.

VERVE Triple Bill runs at approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes (including the interval).

VERVE returns to Leeds for the closing nights of their international tour on Friday 24th May 2024 and Saturday 25th May 2024, 7.30pm, at the Riley Theatre. Tickets available to book here.

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