Bridport’s dance company of mature dancers, Grace & Growl, performed their latest piece of dance theatre Not A Birthday Party, choreographed by multi-award winning Eleesha Drennan at Bridport Arts Centre.

It takes a look at how we remember, and how our relationship to time changes through life - with humour, courage and pathos. The company shared the evening with Luke Brown Dance.

Entering the auditorium, the dancers from Grace and Growl are already on the floor limbering up - echoes of gyms and exercise classes, whispered greetings and hugs and kisses. It sets the scene for a piece that is full of vibrant moves and a powerful feeling of togetherness that grows and reverberates throughout. It’s a performance of exquisite contrasts - slow motion set against frozen tableaux and the pace quickens to include beautifully timed movements in cannon. The company slips seamlessly into the performance and the whole group are a complete team.Their focus is sharp and committed with some notable individual performances - graceful arm arcs, balletic point work, fiery intensity in faces and bodies, and a strong sense of rhythm. We are left with the feeling that the most courageous charges in life - are those that are made together.

Luke Brown's piece, For You I Long the Longest is in two parts. Second Self begins with two people moving almost as a single organism. On top of, and underneath each other, they are joined, almost literally, at the hip. Two more dancers enter and the piece shifts as the four swap partners - weave relationships, simultaneously leave, let go and reconnect with each other. It’s set to a discordant sound track not easy to listen to and which uncomfortably jars and maybe this is the point - relationships, partnerships are jarring at times and we watch uneasily as each dancer in turn has to leave the group and set off on their own. The performers skilfully interweave circus like acrobatics in the telling of their stories - and we are left feeling both wrung out with their efforts and strangely uplifted in the process.

Princess has an altogether different feel to it - the melodic strains of Hush a Bye Mountain faintly hummed at the beginning hint at undercurrents of a darker tale to come. The couple dressed for a wedding embark on their journey with joy and hope - Love is, after all , ‘a crazy little thing’ , ‘full of all consuming passion’ – notes which are supplied by the audience and read out by one of the dancers. The performance moves to the confined area of a boxing ring and their movements become more frenzied as the relationship becomes more abusive. One male dancer’s overpowering size and strength - no less quick and agile than his diminutive partner – is in turns, both beautiful and brutal.

Love, it seems to say, is a delicate balance between the two.

*Grace & Growl are supported by West Dorset District Council and Arts Council England.

Luke Brown Dance is supported by : Arts Council England, Bridport Arts Centre, The Point Eastleigh, Activate Performing Arts, Swindon Dance, Newbury Corn Exchange, South Hill Park and London Studio Centre.