Challenging delights aim to be accessible to everyone

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ONE OF Chichester’s best-kept secrets hopes to be a secret no more in 2011 - the year the ShowRoom hopes to convince the city that its doors are open to everyone.

Over the past eight or so years, the ShowRoom on the Chichester campus of the University of Chichester has gained a fine reputation for showing cutting-edge, sharply-contemporary work from a host of fresh talents on the up.

The venue is hoping that this will be the year that Chichester cottons on to the fact that their shows are absolutely not for students only - especially now that Arts Council funding has dried up.

The new spring season won’t be as jam-packed as previous seasons, admits ShowRoom assistant Andy Roberts, but it still promises a host of challenging delights accessible to everyone.

Andy, who spent four years as a student at the University of Chichester, is keen to raise the ShowRoom’s profile outside the university campus.

“We do contemporary, experimental work - things that push the fourth wall away. We try to do things that make the spectator become part of the experience, rather than just a passive viewer. Quite a lot of our work requires audience participation.”

An important element is supporting up-and-coming companies, giving them the chance to create new work. Hence the ShowRoom’s formation series, which this spring will feature a visit from Tinned Fingers.

The idea is that fresh, contemporary companies get to use the ShowRoom’s rehearsal facilities for free, in return for which they stage a performance of their work in progress, an important way of getting critical feedback which they then feed back into the work itself as they develop it further.

And again, this is where it is important that everyone knows it is on.

“I really want to get it all out there to Chichester that it is for everybody,” Andy says. “Obviously it is a venue within a university, but it is not just for the students. The work is completely new and the work is being created right now. It’s invaluable that the students see it, but it is for everyone. It’s in Chichester and it is accessible - and the prices are much lower than most other venues in the area.”

Shows coming up include:

Lîla Dance, In Our Blood, Thursday, February 10, 7.30pm.

Inspired by the potential of dance to communicate the most intangible and emotional of human experiences, Lîla Dance present three works: A Readiness, Tracker and Here, Still Here, Still. Presented on the evening will be a short curtain-raiser by West Sussex Youth Dance Company and an additional piece choreographed by Lîla Dance and performed by students from Chichester College.

Analogue, Beachy Head, Thursday February 17, 7.30pm.

It’s been a month since Stephen jumped. Amy collects her husband’s effects, the things he had with him gathered in a single box. There was no sign – no warning. As fractured memories of their last night together rewind, replay and unravel, she is desperate to find out why.

Beachy Head is a look at the ripple effects of one man’s decision to take his life. Mixing text, 3D animation and “a dynamic physicality”, Beachy Head is the follow-up to the award-winning Mile End.

Verve, Verve 11, Thursday March 3, 7.30pm.

Verve 2011 has worked with choreographers Debora Johnson, Charles Linehan, Peter Mika, Thomas Noone and Ben Wright to create an evening of energetic, thought-provoking contemporary dance performed by some of Europe’s most talented young dancers.

mapdanc, mapdance 2011, Thursday, March 10, 7.30pm

Celebrating its fifth year, mapdance is one of the leading postgraduate dance companies in the UK.

The Paper Birds, Others, Thursday, March 17, 7.30pm.

Paper, pens and envelopes offer peepholes into strangers’ worlds, where secrets, self-portraits and confessions are shared though a series of armchair interrogations. Through live music, movement and verbatim text, The Paper Birds attempt to represent three absent women and question if it is possible to understand better ‘other’ women or indeed ourselves.

EDge, The Postgraduate Dance Company of London Contemporary Dance School, EDge 2011,

Thursday, April 7, 7.30pm.

Each year a new generation of the most promising contemporary dancers come together as EDge to perform commissions by some of Europe’s most exciting and critically-acclaimed young choreographers.

Formations Series: Tinned Fingers, The Last Romance Club (ever), Thursday, January 20, 7.30pm.

The Last Romance Club (ever) is an exploration of romance and loneliness and the ways in which the two are implicitly bound up in each other.

It is about lonely hearts and late-night radio stations, iconic film scenes and clichés and chance encounters: it is about nostalgia and the romance we imagine we might have lost, or never had.

Shows take place at The ShowRoom, Bishop Otter Campus, College Lane, University of Chichester PO19 6PE. www.theshowroomchichester.co.uk.

Tickets from Chichester Festival Theatre: www.cft.org.uk or 01243 781312.