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Theatre Review: BUDS Does the Brits @ University of Birmingham


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The University of Birmingham's dance society (BUDS) had their annual show - this year dubbed 'BUDS does the Brits' - from 13th-16th March. We sent Birmingham-based contributor Sofia Wood to review the performance.

Image credit: Lane & Grey

Filled to the brim with energy and variety, 'BUDS does the Brits 2019' did not disappoint. The hall was atmospheric and electric, and their award-winning status (Best Overall University at the recent Loughborough Dance Competition) shone out and made that rainy afternoon much brighter.

As a non-dancer, I was worried that this fact would affect my experience of the show – did I need to know the names of all their techniques? Would everyone be a dancer except me? What’s ballet again? (Kidding, I know that one.)

However, once I was inside and the show began, I realised I had nothing to fear – the show was an amazing spectacle, accessible and enjoyable to dancers and non-dancers alike.

This year, the theme of the BUDS dance show was the Brits, made all the more authentic by the fun and interactive presenters (Rochelle Jack and Eddie Paisley), and the two screens on each side of the stage. These announced to the audience each dance group and the artist they would perform to, with an awards category assigned to each. The graphics were very well done, and helped to add to the stylish awards ceremony ambience set up by the red and blue toned lighting and smoky air.

This choice of theme also lent itself well to the logistics of the show, as rather than there being numerous gaps where the performers would change, these moments were instead filled with an announcement of the next performance on screen, allowing for a smooth flow rather than leaving it disjointed with a bored audience. On the contrary, this audience was rapt with the next couple of hours of dazzling talent on show.

The first act was well book-ended with the Performance Squad and the Wildcard Squad - the tightness of the Wildcard’s choreography was especially impressive (choreographed by Kathryn Birch), and the energy and amazing ability (so flexible, so many flips!) ending the first half on a high.

Image credit: Lane & Grey

The show put on by the Advanced Musical Theatre group exuded drama, the dropping of the lights to leave a single dancer silhouetted in a spotlight on the beats at the beginning of Panic at the Disco’s ‘The Greatest Show’ really capturing the mood of the film it was in tribute to. In short, Hollie Shepherd’s choreography was superb – I may not be a dancer but I have seen a lot of musicals, and this performance really hit the spot.  

The first act also saw some interesting music choices, one of my favourites being Advanced Modern’s use of Fatboy Slim’s ‘Right Here Right Now’ (choreographed by Liv Campion). Their graceful movements served as a nice juxtaposition to the strong beat of this classic, and also emphasised the graceful strings passages in the song. Another choice that intrigued the audience was Advanced Ballet’s decision to dance to the Arctic Monkeys - this bold move worked fantastically well, props to Cerys Jones’ choreography there.

The second act delivered yet more stunning visuals. The Jazz Squad transported the audience back to the Brits with a very aesthetically pleasing performance choreographed by Anais Dibben. Their dancing beneath a swathe of fabric not only made them seem ethereal, but was also very impressive that they managed to do it so smoothly – the costumes were equally enchanting, the light catching them beautifully.

Advanced Tap’s rendition of ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ was another favourite (choreographed by Eddie Paisley), with the sound of their shoes nicely complimenting the song’s riff. I also really enjoyed Lizzy Reid’s choreography for Higher Inter ballet; the dancers' jerky movements worked nicely with the music (Mura Masa’s ‘Lovesick’), and the strobing used at points to emphasise this was a nice touch too.

Image credit: Lane & Grey

The finale was a grand, colourful affair, the rainbow of costumes and jukebox like lighting around the edge of the stage providing a very uplifting ending to the show – the Committee Dance was particularly impressive and energetic, with amazing choreography the work of Rosie Bradley, Lizzy Ives, Kallianne Titley and Tian Sewell-Morgan.

Some honourable mentions for their amazing moves and some great music choices: Advanced Hip-Hop to a Busta Rhymes Medley ft. the Pussycat Dolls (Jemima Padua), Novice Ballet to Florence and the Machine (Alice Bennett), and Intermediate Tap to Basement Jaxx (Lauren Shirley).

Sadly the show is over now so I can’t really urge you to go and watch it, but I would definitely recommend seeing their next show – BUDS do not disappoint!

More infomation on the University of Birmingham's dance society can be found at their website here, and more photos from the show can be found on Lane & Grey's facebook page here.

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