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R.I.O.T. dance work to premiere at Dance City in Newcastle

Comic book heroes were the inspiration for a new dance work co-commissioned by Newcastle-based Dance City

R.I.O.T. a new dance work by PanicLab
R.I.O.T. a new dance work by PanicLab

A new dance work featuring comic superheroes and inspired by a real-life clash between police and protestors will premiere on Tyneside this weekend.

R.I.O.T. was created by London-based dance company PanicLab but commissioned by Newcastle-based Dance City along with three other dance agencies around the country.

The piece presents four performers playing superheroes who are caught up in a series of conflicts which are described as being “both personal and intricately political”.

The work, according to the creative team, is “spiced with comic book and action hero references” and the audience follows the characters as their adventure unfolds through action-packed choreography and projected illustrations.

R.I.O.T. Trailer from PanicLab on Vimeo.


Joseph Mercier, who devised the piece, comes from Canada and trained at the School of Alberta Ballet but is based in London where he teaches at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

He founded PanicLab with New Yorker Clara Giraud in 2008.

Of this latest work, he explains: “A few years ago I attended the student protests in Westminster Square. I went with a group of students I was teaching.

“They arrived before me and were caught for several hours inside the police ‘kettle’.

“As I approached the square, a student with a bloody forehead was dragged past me by two police officers.

R.I.O.T. a new dance work by PanicLab
R.I.O.T. a new dance work by PanicLab

“I stood on a small hill overlooking the battle scene, watching our defence of public education being beaten with batons and horses.

“The smashed windows of the Treasury was more important than the vulnerable living bodies struggling for a semblance of an expression of political agency.

“I closed my eyes and imagined I was Jean Grey as the Phoenix (a Marvel Comics character), using the awesome power of my psyche to clear the kettle, paralyse the police and their batons and dismantle the walls of Parliament to let the protestors flood in and reclaim that space for democracy and public interest.

“R.I.O.T. will be a rehearsal for this revolution – that fantasy played out.”

The dancers in R.I.O.T. are Joseph Mercier himself, Jordan Lennie, Tess Letham and Zinzi Minott.

The performance, funded by Arts Council England and suitable for ages 12 plus, is on Saturday at 8pm. Book online at www.dancecity.co.uk or tel. 0191 2610505


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