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No Dress Code Reflection – November 2022

Fri 5 May 2023
Part of: Artist Support

On Friday 18th November, we hosted our annual scratch night, No Dress Code.  The event aims to provide a platform for dance artists to share their works in progress…


The 4 programmed dance works were selected through an open call out; a highly challenging process, due to the quality and professionalism of all proposals we received. The selected 4 included 3 live performances and 1 film installation that each gave a taste of their ongoing artistic work and practice.

S71_an embrace created, choreographed and performed by Sophie Brain describes itself as a dance within a cinematic installation. The audience were first greeted into the space with Sophie’s curiosity and sense of care, before being transported to a ‘club-like’ atmosphere complimented with an original soundtrack by J.Aria. Film projection intricately reflected and bounced off a series of mirrors around the space which one audience member described as “stolen glimpses”. In conversation with Sophie, she spoke eloquently around capturing home, the body and the club but at its core the work is a personal journey of discovering self, which another audience member identified clearly through the “Inner queerness being expressed in its purest form – vulnerability”.


Move Manchester, a company recently founded by Ayesha Fazal and Jack Hilton, presented their current work in progress Resurgence. Jack as Co-Choreographer and Dancer performed this solo with incredible precision and presence which translated to the audience with “beautiful movement and control!” To help bring the concept to life, Move Manchester collaborated with composer Henry Twinn to form an emotionally resonant score. After witnessing dance in its fullest rigour the audience share a short but intimate moment with Jack, almost like an internal, silent conversation.

“Your performance was relatable!! It summarised years of imprisonment within the seemingly innocuous fines of a chair and table which felt really powerful because they are so ordinary. When you escaped them I felt like I was escaping with you into your daydreams, and my mind was racing with all of the possibilities of the imagination unchained. So inspiring!” (Audience Feedback)



The last live performance of the evening was created and choreographed by Iolanda Portogallo. IO evidently reflected playfulness, curiosity and dynamism which was performed with quality and excellence and worked harmoniously with subtle shifts heard in the music. The complexities of the piece don’t derive from narrative or detailed concept and audiences are left to experience a story, a feeling or even a moment of nostalgia at their own pleasure.

“It can be nothing, it can be everything” (Iolanda Portogallo)

IO was received positively with many found to reflect on the raw choreography and characterisation of each dancer. The movement was considered with “chaotic synchronisation”, alongside “joyful”, “playful”, “nostalgic”, “energetic” and “soothing”. Attendee’s also complimented on how the work “scratched an itch in [their] brain”.



Finally, we welcomed a film installation choreographed and performed by Hannah Buckley and Hollie Miller, alongside musician and performer Craig Scott. Blood, Bone, Breath created a distinctly red atmosphere which was received as one of “unease and ambiguity” but also “softness, comfort and connection”. The work incorporates cyclic imagery of desire, holding and metamorphosis whilst also following a sensory journey in which the artists navigate intimacy, agency and proximity. Audiences were invited to join this journey through the use of a plush red rug to sit, dance and watch the film on. This very rug is also featured in the film and helped form a relationship between audience and performer experiences.

“I noticed the marks left in the rug and let myself lie down on it and fully engage. Then I felt how human the experience of lying with another is and committing to the timeless pace of the performance. In the end I felt relaxed and soothed by the experience.” (Audience Feedback)



We were overwhelmed at the attendance on the evening and were equally excited to see many new faces in the audience. The night concluded with an opportunity to write feedback for each work, be it a word, a sentence, a question, a feeling or a drawing. It was great to see people engaging and offering responses as they did, which massively contributes and supports the artist’s ongoing development.

If you are interested to present a work in progress in 2023’s rendition of No Dress Code, please find our open call out here. Application deadline: Midday, Monday 26 June 2023!


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