Sunday 28 August 2011

Sick Venom Elementz, Sick arts cuts: Two faces of the generation gap.

When I sat down next to a young woman of 16 on a crowded bus, we ignored each other initially. Not only were we strangers, we were separated by an age factor of at least three and the unspoken assumptions each generation has about the other. Until I started the conversation.

I found that I was sitting next to a member of a dance group that had came second in their group in the national XXL Street Dance Championships ( The dance groups Elementz Ent. & Venom are the over 17 and under 17 collectives of dancers from all over the UK, based in Cambridge ( The video above illustrates their style and previous performances included Move It, Kidz Take Kontrol, GWI Street Dance Weekend and the iDance UK Hip Hop Champs.

Street dance hit the consciousness of the broader public with the group Diversity winning Britain's got Talent in 2009. Physical, vibrant and often very expressive, street dance occurs in many forms throughout the world (, with those derived from breakdancing and popping being the most familiar within the uk.

The young lady, who incidentally already held a clutch of GCSE that would open doors to many professional careers, was obviously passionate about street dance and contemporary dance and this struck a chord with me. Whilst not a dancer myself, I find the exploration of physical language beyond the conventions of traditional ballet in contemporary dance gripping in a good performance.

The BBC recently ran “Dance! The Most Incredible Thing about Contemporary Dance” which introduced me to both the Pet Shop Boys' collaboration in the contemporary ballet “The most incredible thing” which I thoroughly enjoyed. Other names were The Cholomondeleys and Featherstonehaughs ( who have been providing innovative shows for over 23 years. Sadly they are disbanding this year after the 100% withdrawal of their Arts funding. YouTube has a collection of video samples for both of the above. ( and

The one thing that had surprised me was the frequent use of the word “sick” to describe the performances of Elementz Ent. & Venom online – until I learnt from my daughter that “Sick” was now the new “Cool”, meaning awesome or brilliant.

So in the end I find myself feeling sick in a positive sense about the vibrancy and success of Cambridge based Elementz Ent. & Venom and sick in the conventional negative sense, that cuts in arts funding have brought forward the demise of The Cholomondeleys and Featherstonehaughs.

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