Feet of Klee

We've known each other a while now. I would say that we've grown fairly close over the last three months or so, wouldn't you? I've admitted some pretty embarrassing stuff to you, and you've... well, you've read it. I think we've built up a relationship of sorts. One based on mutual respect and affection. A bond of trust has formed between the two of us.

With that in mind, I feel that it may now be time to tell you... I've never been to Trinity Laban before. 

"But Maxine," you say.  "Don't you work in dance? I'm pretty sure you've said that you worked in dance."

I did. And I do. For almost three years now. And I've been a self-proclaimed dance-fan for even longer. 

"And yet you've never made it to one of the foremost dance schools in the country?" 

It's a long way away you see.... 

"Isn't it in Deptford?" 


"And didn't you work in Deptford at one point? You recently mentioned that you worked at the Albany..." 


"Which is just down the road from Trinity Laban." 


"So really, what you're saying is, that you couldn't be bothered to go to Trinity Laban." 

Now hang on! What happened to our bond of trust?  I came to you with this shameful secret and all you've done is call me out on it! This is not what I came here for. 

"So basically, you want a lollipop for being brave enough to share?" 

Yes! Exactly. Thank you. 

"Lollipops aren't for losers." 

Has anyone told you lately that you can be a bit of a bitch? 

Well, its true. You got me. Well done. I hadn't been to Trinity Laban before because it sounded like it would be a pain in the bum. Alright? Is that what you want to hear? That I'm lazy? Fine. Congratulations. I said it.

Thanks to the marathon though, those lazy days are over. Trinity Laban is on my list, so I was damn well going to visit it. Twice actually. As it also has a studio.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. I was there for the Laban Theatre. I think. It could also be the Bonnie Bird Theatre. It's hard to tell.

The website said Laban. My ticket said Laban. But the signage? Pure Bonnie Bird.


"Are you here for the show?" asks the young lady posted at a small desk near the entrance. 

I tell her I am.  

"The box office is just over there," she says, indicating a large pink construction that is hard to miss. 

Everything about Trinity Laban is hard to miss. Including Trinity Laban. 


On the winding walk up from the road, the building glowed in a Paul Klee-esque collage of multi-coloured lights. 

Inside, staircases were medieval spirals up to the high ceilings, walls were decorated with massive doodle-like illustrations, and the bar had its name in lights. 


This is not a venue that believes in subtly. 

I hang around, taking photos, all the time keeping a close eye on the entrance to the Bonnie Bird. I was fairly confident that it was going to be my home for the evening, but I couldn't discount the possibility that there was a third, unsignposted, theatre out there somewhere.

The foyer is packed with dance students. I can spot a dance student a mile off. It’s not much of a skill. There’s no mistaking them. It’s not just the ease and grace with which they move, or the baggy-badassness of their style choices. It’s all about the attitude. They lean against the walls as if they are trying to get cast in a French New Wave film and looking like they are smoking even when there is not a cigarette in sight.

I lean against the railing in an attempt to emulate their aloof coolness, but I wasn’t kidding anyone. Least of all myself.

Eventually there’s an announcement. The house is open. 

The young dancers lope their way down the corridor towards to Bonnie Bird. 

The door opens. 

We start to file in. 

Well, that answered that question at least. 

But as I walk through the doors and the large, handsome and modern auditorium opened out in front if me, I an confronted by a different one. One less cerebral in nature. More visceral altogether. 

What on earth is that smell? 

Strong enough to crinkle the nose, it os a mixture of old sweat and dirty socks. 

Perhaps not an altogether surprisingly scent for a dance venue, but not one that I've ever encountered in the theatre before. It smelt as if the room had played host to a week's worth of intense rehearsals. So intense, no one had been allowed to go home, or even open the door long enough to sneak a cheeky coffee.

For once, there isn't a dash towards the front row. Dance students are way too cool for that. They slunk to the back. 

The few who did choose the sit close to the stage snuggle down in their seats, heads resting against the back, feet up on the seat in front.  

Not cool enough for either of these groups, I choose row a third of the way back. Behind the snugglers, in front of the slunkers.  


It should be a good show. The (free) programme tells me that. There is a list of star ratings right on the front cover. It's nice that they're proud, but I can't help but disapprove. By the time someone has got their hands on a programme, they've already bought into the show. They've paid their money, and got their ticket. You can stop selling to them at that point. Let them make up their own mind on whether the show is good or not. No need to pit their opinions against the critics.

Really, no need...

"It's so good," says a slunker sitting behind me.

"Were the reviews good then? I haven't read any."

"No idea. I saw it last night."

"And you're seeing it again?"

"Yeah, it's that good. Bought another ticket as soon as I got out."

Gosh. I've had that feeling before. Of needing to see something again the second I walk out of the auditorium. It was Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev dancing Don Q at the Coli together way back when. During the one-handed lift, he sunk down into a plie, and then on his way up, lifted his back leg into an arabesque. All the while holding Osipova firmly. She didn't wobble an inch. Her smile serene throughout. It was astonishing.

I was looking forward to seeing similar feats from Scottish Dance Theatre.

It's a very large stage. For the space I mean. The Laban isn't quite competing with the Coliseum on that level. But it's wide, and deep. You feel like you're peering right into the guts of Trinity Laban itself here.

And yet, the twelve dancers of Scottish Dance Theatre managed to completely fill the space. So much so that the even busted their way into the audience, roaming into rows of free seats to dance as if the hottest guy in the room was watching. One audience member threw up her hands in despair as her view of the stage was blocked by a dancer perching on the chair in front of her.

It must be hard to get a back turned on you after such an intense display. I don't think I've ever seen a performance with such sustained levels of eye-fucking piercing out from the stage. Combine that with girls in suits and boys in eyeliner, and I can see why the students liked it.

As for me, it seems cruel to do that to an old lady. But I ain't complaining.

Still don’t know what the theatre is actually called though.