The Ballroom of Joys and Sorrows

The Ballroom of Joys and Sorrows at Watford Palace Theatre****

60 participants from all age groups took part

Professional performers worked with small groups

The show combined elements of visual storytelling, dance and song

First published in What's On Times Series: Photograph of the Author by

Assembling 60 members of the public, assorted dancers and a band on the Watford Palace Theatre stage last month was a feat in itself but what choreographer and director Kate Flatt and her team created was a feast of dance, movement and song.

In The Ballroom of Joys and Sorrows, the stage was recreated in the round to allow audience and players alike the opportunity to take a memorable journey through the history of music making, dance and rhythm taking in far away lands and returned back home to English shores.

We were treated to a delightful passage that encompassed war dances, celebratory rituals, passionate laments and family gatherings. Although some merely swayed or glided to the music, the younger performers leapt, cartwheeled and jigged about in joyous celebration.

All through the 70-minute show nobody seemed out of place and the story held together without being too prescriptive, so that those watching could run with it and make their own mind up about what they were seeing.

For me, it recalled morris, maypole and country dance styles that I had experienced as a child and these snippets of our heritage made me smile. I also enjoyed insight into Brazilian and other international creative arts.

The Ballroom of Joy and Sorrows was a wonderful example of community cohesion and performance at its very best. It was clear the amateur cast had learned much from the professionals they had worked with and I hope we will see more of its like again soon.

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