Review: Pure Dance 2022 @ The Berry Theatre


Pure Dance is back and better than ever, boasting highlights from Tap, Ballet, Street, Jazz and many more. An unforgettable show which will surely be hard to top next year...

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Pure Dance is back, and this year it was nothing short of magic. Not only was it a celebration of all the societies who took part (Ballet, Break, Contemporary, Gaana, Irish, Jazz, SKBD, Salsa, Street, and Tap), but also a joyous return to the world of performing after a trying few years of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a delight when Pure Dance 2022 kicked off with energy, passion and audience showstoppers, and maintained that pace from start to finish. It wasn’t just a show, but so much more.

Act 1 kicked off with the intermediate jazz squad, and their ‘noughties’ mashup of pop-hits never felt more at home. It was a strong choice, but one that worked; the jazz was flawless in execution with slick choreography, so it was a no-brainer opener. It was only surprising then to find beginners ballet mellowing the pace and tugging back the energy; but that’s not a bad thing. With an elegance that far surpassed the “beginners” title, it was a beautiful display of raw emotion and dance storytelling. In fact, Ballet was among one of the many highlights of the show – every dance, whether the beginners in Act 1 or the advanced in Act 2, offered a tightly woven and emotional spectacle that had us in awe.

However, one of the best parts of Pure Dance is its celebration of culture and societies across the University of Southampton. Both Gaana and SKBD brought continental variation which made the show exceed expectations. While their styles were so unique, their inclusion in Pure Dance felt fitting and organic, and their placement worked beautifully into the line-up that it was always mesmerising to watch, especially SKBD and their extravagant traditional outfits. Sadly, Afrodynamix was missing from the mix, but perhaps that’s why Advance Street felt so accomplished in their Act I performance, as they pulled in Afrodynamic elements to give it a lick of that Afro identity and really make it stand out.

Although, Act 1’s spotlight is really deserving of the award-winning dance from the Advanced Tap squad: the girls stole the show, let alone the act. It was big, dramatic, and the in-sync choreography that made great use of space and tight formations made it something to truly lose yourself watching. It was one of those rare moments that really made me question whether this was a student performance or a professional one, and the audience received it with the same love, going wild when the dance finished – I even felt myself eagerly anticipating the next advanced tap routine in Act 2.

Act 2 opened with the Advance Jazz Squad, who brought intense energy back to the show after the interval with their performance of ‘Fuerza’. Their flashy red outfits stood out amongst the many others, and their vivacity had the crowd going wild. Each movement was polished and enthusiastic, and it was clear to see from the dancers’ faces that they were truly enjoying each and every moment – which made the performance even more spectacular.

After an emotional VT about the leavers of the group, which was accompanied by many sniffles from the audience, the Advanced Ballet Squad took to the stage for their show-stopping performance of ‘Danse Macabre’. Choreographed by Stacey Barnett, this dance was one which had a sublime combination of music and movement – every twist, jump, and turn was perfectly placed to the music, creating a dramatic and elegance spectacle.

Coming towards the end of the show came a brave and beautiful solo from Emma Mills, who put so much emotion into her performance that it left the audience speechless.

The final performance from Irish Heavy Shoe was also particularly mesmerising – the dancers’ abilities to keep perfectly in time, and stay perfectly poised, is incredible. The energy from the crowd combined with the rhythmic noise from the dancers’ shoes combined to create an amazing energy.

Intermediate Tap were a welcome return with ‘The Final Battle’, showcasing their truly mesmerising abilities and fancy footwork. The music choice, choreography, and even outfits were all first-class; their performance was truly a testament to why they are so strong as a team, and reflects their top-notch scores at competitions.

And finally, the show ended with a finale from all the dancers – a brilliantly fun display of the societies and people who worked so hard to create this amazing show

Overall, Pure Dance 2022 was yet another amazing showcase of all the incredible dance talent that the University of Southampton has to offer. Although we were not expecting to be disappointed, all of our expectations were exceeded with dance after dance full of energy, emotion, and excitement. This annual production is one that you truly do not want to miss.

Check back soon to see some amazing photos of the production, and keep an eye on Union Southampton Dance’s social medias for a full recording of the show!


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Previous News Editor (20-21), previous Editor-In-Chief (21-22), and now the Deputy Editor & Culture PR duo extravaganze, I'm just someone trying to make their way through the world of journalism... (trying being the keyword here).

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