Monday, 27 September 2010


I attended a very entertaining lunchtime recital last week, as part of the commendable and very imaginatively constructed Hampstead and Highgate Festival. The organisers have taken dance, and especially Diaghilev as their inspiration and binding theme, and the event I went to in Burgh House (itself a treat to visit, café attached) comprised poetry, prose and even some nicely delivered song, on the broad subject of dance.

The pieces were cleverly selected and exquisitely performed by Piers Plowright, Diana Bishop and Valerie Sarruf. Among many I had not met before, there was Auden in full horror nursery rhyme flow:

The desires of the heart are as crooked as corkscrews
Not to be born is the best for man
The second best is a formal order
The dance’s pattern, dance while you can.
Dance, dance, for the figure is easy
The tune is catching and will not stop
Dance till the stars come down with the rafters
Dance, dance, dance till you drop.

a hilarious piece from Beachcomber, satirising ballet culture (in the shape of a 'Madame Tumblova'), trade unions and a wide range of other targets; the sadly undersung Louis MacNeice, with 'Bagpipe Music' (an absolute tour de force) and a smattering of work by contemporary writers, including India Russell, whose collection The Kaleidoscope of Time is published by our parent company, Stacey International. India's new collection is, appropriately, The Dance of Life, available from Godstow Press.

There is much more literature, music, dance and even walking available from the Festival, (full details of which are in the link above), with some star performers, including Jonathan Miller and Simon Callow.


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