You may have noticed something interesting happening at the old Woolworths on The Moor. The windows have been stenciled with vine patterns, a bar has appeared and big boards covered in artwork hide a staging area. It seems, The Delicatessen Theatre have turned the old shop into a creative hub where artists can showcase their work, be it dance, music, comedy or art. I’ve come to Black Box Productions’ Happy January event on this cold, Saturday night to be treated to a variety of performances, fittingly replacing the pick’n’mix sweets counter.
Sitting at a table, I’m greeted with an explosion of tattered-clothed, grey-faced, female zombies from the Jets Dance Centre, dancing to Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’. This is followed by our hosts and interval band, Saemon Daemon, playing a rock snippet of ‘Thriller’, wearing helmets, clashing clothes and bizarre glasses, whilst pink and blue ball-pit balls tumble from the drum kit. The singer, who looks like Napoleon Dynamite, with curly blonde hair, bike helmet, goofy teeth and tiny purple shorts, thanks the dancers and introduces the next act.
Comedy duo Sam Nicoresti and Tom Burgess zoom out on bicycles and make giddy, immature banter, which does nothing to stir the crowd, until Sam ‘collapses’ on stage, leaving Tom to read a surreal and funny tale in a Morgan Freeman narrative, that clashes Bagpuss, The Clangers and the cast of Rainbow together. Tom’s impressions of Rainbow’s Bungle and George are accurate and particularly amusing.
Saemon Daemon introduce solo dancer, Lucie Lee, who performs beautiful ballet to a medley of music from the film, Amelie. This is followed by impressive gymnasts, Jennie Swift and Lorian Biet who complement each others movements with rolls and hand-stands. Their performance reaches a climax when Lorian takes a run, jump and somersaults over Jennie, who is sat on a chair in front of the stage.
Next is French magician, Benoit Benz Compin who harnesses my “intuition and belief” to make my card, the four of spades, appear sixth in the deck, making me wonder what kind of Darren Brown, psychological manipulation he’s used to make it happen. Back to the dancing, all female dance group, Copthorne Follies salsa and tap their way through Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ and Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Smiley Faces’, before finishing with the monster moves of Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’.
All is quiet as a young girl curls up on the floor in a black leotard and giant gold wings. As Muse’s ‘Feeling Good’ begins Eve Armitage comes to life. Kneeling, she starts doing theatrical hand movements, before leaping through the air and twirling the gold material around her like a whirlpool. The enthusiastic cheers and applause confirm this as the most outstanding act of the night. Female singer, Voi Vang closes the first half with catchy, electronic, pop songs and edgy dance moves.
After a break, two girls from the Jet Dance Centre dressed as 60s, flower power protesters in playsuits salute to Edwin Starr’s ‘War’, Copthorne Follies do a burlesque dance in corsets to Christina Aguilera and co’s ‘Lady Marmalade’, and deadpan comedian, Sean Morley gets some chuckles from the crowd. Lou Bryant heats up the room with her belly dancing, female singer Lazuli shows she’s Sheffield’s answer to Delilah, and finally, Ink Dance Company throw some hip hop shapes to a Beyonce medley. Happy January proves that Sheffield is not only a great city for bands and artists, but a strong contender for dance acts too.