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Dance piece that looks at the darker side of passion

DOMESTIC violence is perhaps not the first subject that springs to mind when we think about passion.

But it's one that choreographer Jenni Wren focuses on in Crazy Joanna, the second part of her Three Passions trilogy-in-the-making.

The multi-media work is a collaboration between herself and film director Aurora Fearnley and follows the first of the trilogy pieces, Blind Passion, which won glowing praise when it was first performed last year.

Each work is a stand-alone piece and Wren hopes the final instalment, Minor Tears, will be ready later this year.

In the meantime, she is concentrating on Crazy Joanna, which premieres at Seven Arts centre in Chapel Allerton, Leeds, tomorrow night, accompanied by a performance of Blind Passion.

Wren's dance project is her most challenging to date and whereas Blind Passion is the visual equivalent of a sensuous love story, Crazy Joanna explores the darker side of passion. It's inspired by the troubled life of Spanish queen Juana la Loca and is broken into three segments, each representing a different life, that journeys through medieval Spain and the backstreets of Buenos Aires, where the tango was born, ending in the present day. In each story she finds herself back in an abusive relationship. "When we talk about passion, people automatically think of it as something romantic," explains Wren, "but actually there is a very negative side to it that includes jealousy, rage and destruction and I wanted to explore all aspects of what we regard as passion."

By portraying domestic violence through a dance work, she creates a powerful and, at times, unsettling piece. The visceral choreography captures the nuances of human behaviour while the accompanying soundtrack follows, rather than steers, your reactions.

Wren refers to passion as "an unstoppable force" and interviewed victims of domestic violence before creating the finished piece. "It's a celebration of survivors of domestic abuse, it is a strong piece and will probably have a strong impact on audiences, although I can't say what that will be. All I can do is try and create something that people will find interesting."

She created her first professional dance piece in 2003, before forming her own dance and theatre company, Slanjayvah Danza, the following year. She has spent the last 12 months working on her Three Passions trilogy after receiving funding from Arts Council England and the National Lottery.

"Contemporary dance is a very underestimated form of communication and entertainment that doesn't get as much TV exposure as music, films and books." Although she believes it is no less important. "The body talks, it resonates energy as it moves and that's what I try and harness through my choreography."

Crazy Joanna, Seven Arts Centre, Leeds. Tickets 9. For more information visit www.slanjayvahdanza.com

 
 
 

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