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Eliot Smith Dance: New Remembrance Work “POPPY”


In a particularly eventful year, Eliot Smith Dance (ESD), the Newcastle based contemporary dance company, will be premiering a new dance work entitled POPPY at The Sage, Gateshead, on Tuesday 27 November 2018 as part of a Triple Bill.  Choreographed by the Company’s Artistic Director Eliot Smith, with a commissioned score by Jason Holcomb, the work is presented in collaboration with The Royal British Legion, and performed by ESD dancers.  POPPY is a retrospective and abstract look at war and conflict and the sacrifices made by those affected, and, like Lt. Col. John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields”, the dance work is inspired by the flower. 


As Eliot explains “The origin of the poppy as a remembrance emblem can be traced back to American academic Professor Moina Michael who, having heard John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields”, was inspired to make and sell red silk poppies, which were subsequently brought to England.  The Royal British Legion, formed in 1921, ordered 9 million of these poppies and sold them on 11th November that year.  The money raised supported the welfare of veterans and provided care for their families.  100 years after the end of WW1 the Poppy Appeal is still raising funds for this purpose.” 


‘Sacrification’, is a new score for trombone ensemble and percussion specially commissioned by ESD from American trombonist, band leader, and composer, Jason Holcomb.  Jason’s musical career has taken him from The Lionel Hampton School of Music to directing and producing shows and recording and performing with some of the biggest names in music.  Jason relocated to North East England and now performs with his own jazz/soul quartet, The Society Four, as well as lecturing and giving private tuition and masterclasses. 


The performance of Triple Bill also includes two new dance works by the award-winning choreographer Rosie Kay and noted dance-maker Mathieu Geffre, both commissioned and performed by ESD. 


Eliot Smith Dance, based in Newcastle upon Tyne, comprises dancers drawn from the UK and throughout the world.  The company has performed by invitation in New York, Paris and Rome, but within North East England they specialise in bringing dance to smaller and unusual venues and to audiences that would not normally have the chance to experience dance.  Artistic Director Eliot Smith was born in Newcastle, studied ballet and contemporary dance at London Contemporary Dance School, and is a passionate advocate of the Martha Graham dance technique which he promotes and teaches.  He has been an Associate Artist at Dance City (UK), was a Finalist in the Journal Culture Awards 2018 and has recently been nominated for Dance Personality of the Year in the One Dance UK Awards 2018.