IGNITE

Finalist at the Fedora Van Cleef & Arpels Awards 2018.

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Two grand masters of their own idiom, Forsythe and Van Manen, are accompanied by the relative new boy on the block Juanjo Arqués, who holds the post of young creative associate with Dutch National Ballet. Arqués thus has an immense challenge in trying to measure up to two icons of the 21st-century dance who were already icons in the 2oth century. But he make a fair stab at it. His Ignite is a co-production with Birmingham Royal Ballet and was premiered in England in 2018. The inspirations comes from Turner’s painting The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, which shows the ranging inferno of the Houses of the Parliament reflected in the Thames. Arqués wants us to feel like the spectators of the riverbank, and that is certainly the case, especially in the section where Anna Tsygankova, as River, stands watching at the front of the stage with her back to us. The roiling, seething choreography is mesmerising and does evoke the feeling of watching flames, water and clouds.
— Susan Pond for Dance Europe
Arqués and Whitley achieve more than description and impression here. Ignite is imbued with a profound sense of catastrophe, and of reckless human vainglory. It seems to sound a warning note to those who would rush in and destroy that which can never be recovered.
— Luke Jennings for The Observer 
In Ignite, the Spanish choreographer creates an abstract work that captures the elusive energy and dramatic colours of Turner’s 1835 painting The Burning of the House of Lords and Commons... He explores the idea of movement within Turner’s frozen images - the roaring flames, the gently shimmering water, the slow-moving clouds- and gives physical life to the painting’s vivid colours.
— Debra Craine for The Times 
In Ignite by Juanjo Arqués, fire ripples through the dancers’ bodies. It’s the more vital, pleasurable piece of the evening. Inspired by Turner’s The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, limbs flicker and lick, arms scribble the air as if drawing with a sparkler, all in one long brushstroke of constant motion.
— Lyndsey Winship for The Guardian
Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Ignite shows a promising legacy for dance. It is not necessary to know that it’s a ‘choreographic unfolding’ of Turner’s painting The Burning of The Houses of Lords and Commons to find it an impressive piece of dance. He understands the power of stillness. Delia Mathews stands at the front of the stage with her back to the audience. As River, she passively watches the conflagration.
— John O’Dwyer for Seen and Heard International
The dance largely flows naturally, moments of stillness exploding in action. Steps appear organically, groups and formations largely come and go with ease, the only exceptions being two lines that are formed at different times. Within it all are any number of unusual lifts and fabulous extensions, even interesting ensemble floorwork.
— David Meade for SeeingDance
After the stage has filled with silken flourishes to blaring brass and crashing percussion, the cast remove their shirts and turn around to face us. The reflective panels descend, the orchestra is replaced by crackling sounds and the garments are dropped as charred embers. It’s an effective ending to a tumultuous ballet: what it implies politically is anyone’s interpretation – probably different in Brexit Britain from European Netherlands.
— Jann Parry for DanceTabs
‘The movement was all long extensions and masses of people sinuously wrapping themselves around each other, and I particularly enjoyed watching Delia Matthews as River eat up the space of the stage.
— Rym Kechacha for Bachtrack
Spanish choreographer Juanjo Arques’s Ignite is an exhilarating and incendiary 35-minute piece of modern dance. Members of the ensemble rush on and off stage, clad in yellow and reds for fire, blues and greys for smoke, water and sky, combining, entangling, in a turbulent, flickering inferno.
— Leon Burakowski for Express & Star
Ignite translates the fiery drama, the heated colours and even the grey of the ashes and gives a dynamic to Turner’s static oil painting. The work ends with the dancers slowly moving ghostlike towards the audience, the music stopping with only the ominous crackling of a building on fire rumbling below. It’s an evocative and beautifully-done piece.
— Richard Lutz for The Birmingham Press
In the first of three sections, choreographer Juanjo Arqués excellently captures not only the chaotic entire body of a fire, but also how individual flames undulate in response to increased oxygen before being pulled back into the mass.
The production cleverly uses slanted mirrors to create the reflections apparent in Turner’s painting.  At times, we’re almost tricked into thinking there’s more dancers onstage, reflecting the drama and turbulence in Turner’s work.
— Daljinder Johal for The Reviews Hub