Monthly Archives: May 2014


Young audience members get to try Jonathan's viola da gamba

Young audience members get to try Jonathan’s viola da gamba

On Saturday 17th May Ballet in Small Spaces performed Two old instruments in St Helen’s Central Library as part of the Cultural Hubs programme of Arts in Libraries funded by Arts Council England.  This programme is designed to encourage those who might not approach arts venues such as theatres and concert halls to sample arts events and performances in the more relaxed and familiar setting of the public library.  St Helen’s boasts a spacious and light library building, with tall windows and a dignified presence in Victoria Square at the town centre by the Town Hall.  Jonathan and I were made welcome by Jess Bowstead and Owen Hutchings of the Cultural Hubs programme; we did two performances in the children’s library, an open space with a good floor surrounded by chairs and a couple of comfy sofas. Our first a family friendly show attended by children and parents, with some commentary and explanation and a chance for a group of young admirers to have a go on Jonathan’s viol, while I discussed shoes and costume with adult viewers and gave some instruction in the basic minuet step…

Learning the minuet step

Learning the minuet step



Ballet live broadcast on Radio Merseyside

Ballet live broadcast on Radio Merseyside

An interview with Radio Merseyside and then another complete performance, with more questions at the end.  This was the first time that BiSS has performed in a library, but hopefully not the last: it was delightful to present the work in this intimate and informal setting; and we have had some lovely feedback comments, here is a small sample:

“Absolutely amazing.  This is the first time I’ve seen dance so close – loved it!”

“A lovely way to spend time on a Saturday.  We liked the music and the instrument as we had never seen one before.  Very informative.”

“Brilliant I loved everything about it!  The spoken information was informative but not overwhelming + the dancing is so graceful and ideally suited the space.”

“Fabulous interesting piece.  I know nothing about ballet or classical music but enjoyed it.  Really nice hearing the artists speak about the work.”

Thank you St Helen’s!

Following performances at Bristol Music Club, St Leonard’s Shoreditch and at the North Wall in Oxford here are links to some reviews and responses to Two old instruments

“Dance and music in perfect partnership” – read David Bellan’s review for the Oxford Times here

“…memory danced as a reminder for us all…” – read Barbara Berrington’s response here

“…fascinating… responsive communication…” – read Alexandra Stacey’s impressions here

In the Financial Times Clement Crisp writes:

“Susie Crow, formerly a fine dancer and choreographer with the Royal Ballet’s second troupe, now makes dance in spaces where ballet might seem cramped – but with her skilled creations is not.  Latterly she has been producing stylish work with the viola da gamba player Jonathan Rees.  You can sample her creativity on YouTube or seek it out in live and vivid performance.  I admire her.”

Financial Times, May 10th/11th 2014  Critic’s Choice, Life and Arts section p14

“…simple, elegant and charming…” – read Emily Romain’s review for Oxford Dance Writers here

Ballet in Small Spaces on tour… Delighted to give details of further performances of Two old instruments on Saturday 17th May in St Helen’s Central Library as part of the St Helen’s Arts in Libraries Programme supported by Arts Council England through Lottery funding:

Susie Crow and Jonathan Rees in Two old instruments - photo by Dulcy Lott

Susie Crow and Jonathan Rees in Two old instruments – photo by Dulcy Lott

Jonathan Rees and Susie Crow of Ballet in Small Spaces have been delving into the music and dance  of the 18th century, inspired by the salon pieces of composer and viola da gamba virtuoso Carl Friedrich Abel.  Their unique performance infoms a contemporary interpretation reflecting on both history and memory.  The viol or viola da gamba is one of a family of bowed, fretted and stringed instruments that first appeared in the mid to late 15th century, and was most popular in the Renaissance and Baroque periods.

2.00pm Afternoon family focused shortened performance and talk:   Grab the opportunity to speak with the professional dancer and musician and enjoy seeing them perform up close.  Listen and learn about the history and stories behind the instrument, music and dancing.

5.00pm  Early evening full performance:  Share an intimate and delightful early evening of music and dance collaboration, with top performers conjuring forgotten pasts into present life through unusual repertoire…

St Helen’s Central Library, The Gamble Building, Victoria Square, St Helen’s WA10 1DYY, Merseyside

Tickets can be reserved for FREE by emailing or by calling 01744 677087  (You will be asked to contribute what you can afford on the day; 1p, £1, £10, no amount is too big or too small)

Flyer here:

Find out more about St Helen’s Council Arts Service here – and what’s on in St Helen’s here