Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Place to be

A season of 78 new dance pieces kicks off 2012

While much has been made of the creative boost given to King’s Cross by recent the arrival of Central Saint Martins, the area has been an important centre for the dance world for many years, being home to The Place, the UK’s premier centre for contemporary dance, and The London Studio Centre, as well as having Sadler’s Wells just up the road.

Held every January and now in its 23rd year, The Place hosts Resolution!, an open season for short new pieces by emerging choreographers which has helped launched the career of many of the UK’s leading dance artists. In 2012 no fewer than 78 performances will take place over 6 weeks starting on Friday 6th January.

One of these will be Meeting Place, a duet by Hamish MacPherson and Martine Painter, who have let their varied interests and life experiences inspire the piece. Meeting Place plays with visually unfolding an algorithmic formula. As this takes place, an intimate and sometimes comic relationship emerges between the two dancers.

Photo by Marica Melotti

The dancers’ engagement with maths, science and philosophy reflects their diverse backgrounds: Martine read French studies, was a successful singer and is currently a librarian, and Hamish studied art and philosophy and is a civil servant.

It was their shared love of numbers and non-stylised movement that brought them together and over the summer they both worked as dance artists with choreographer Eva Recacha for the Choreodrome season at The Place, where they performed in the Touch Wood season. Inspired by this experience they have gone on to make their own work and, alongside the other Resolution! acts, could well be names to look out for in the future.

Meeting Place trailer

You can see Meeting Place on Tuesday 10th January at 8pm. Also performing on the night are CODA Dance/Nikki Watson and DO NOT DANCE UK/José Campos. Tickets are available here.

Details of Resolution! performances happening within the next 1-2 weeks can be found in the KXLDN events section, or visit The Place website for the full programme.
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Saturday, December 10, 2011

KX Xmas

King’s Cross - where even the corporate Christmas decorations are quirky

What do a huge property developer and two of the world’s largest children’s toy and entertainment brands have in common? They’re all responsible for some interesting displays at King’s Cross this Christmas.

At the top of King’s Boulevard, in the middle of the 67-acre King’s Cross development, a 9m high birdcage arrived in mid-November to mark the start of RELAY which is billed as King’s Cross’ first dedicated art programme. Although the promise that it will be suspended from nearby cranes has yet to materialise, it looks lovely, particularly since being joined by a Christmas tree the other side of the road.




Meanwhile down at St Pancras, pupils from Edith Neville Primary School in Camden, Copenhagen Primary School in Islington and the Harpenden Explorer Scout troop were hard at work creating the centrepiece of St Pancras’ Christmas display - a 12m high tree made from over 600,000 pieces of Lego.



A couple of weeks later another labour-intensive exhibit turns up further down the St Pancras concourse, this time an origami model of the Disney Sleeping Beauty castle made entirely from Disney brochures to celebrate 20 years of Disneyland Paris.



A fine effort from everyone involved in these projects. Hope we have more like this next year!

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Recent arrivals - December 2011

A round-up of places that have opened, closed or changed in King’s Cross in the last couple of months. Click on place names or photos for details, directions etc.


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  • Street food pioneers Eat St are now a regular fixture with a delicious and diverse selection of stalls at the top of King’s Boulevard every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday lunchtime.
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  • At the bottom end of King’s Boulevard Bean & Gone is a little red van selling high quality coffee every weekday.
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  • Cafe Niko is a lovely little café on the Priory Green estate that has been going since March but I only just found it.


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  • I remember getting takeaways from Balti Express when working late in 1998. It had got a bit shabby and food quality had also declined so it’s good to see it re-born and under new management as Unique Spice.
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  • The Brill restaurant is now the Backpackers Bar but has kept its takeaway operation Brill To Go next door.
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  • It’s always a worry when a good pub gets taken over but fortunately the new management of the stunning Somers Town Coffee House seem like an interesting outfit who appreciate what a fine place they’ve taken on.
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  • The Il Casale pizzeria up at the Nido student tower blocks on Pentonville Road is now called Vigata.
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  • Swintons became Navya’s for a few months but is now Swintons again, and is no longer serving Malaysian food.
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  • Likewise the Blue River café is also back to its original name after a spell as Café Napoli.


The Café & Tapas chain is still going but its branch in King’s Cross tube station has closed after less than a year. Perhaps eating tapas in an underground corridor didn’t quite deliver an authentic Spanish experience.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Beethoven at St Pancras

Here’s a brief sample of today’s lunchtime concert performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, accompanied by a massed choir, of the finale of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.

It sounded magnificent, give or take the odd interruption from arriving and departing Eurostar trains.

Added later: here’s the official video - much better quality than mine!

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Kings Cross development: open day

Some photos taken on a guided walk as part of an open day organised by Argent, who are re-developing 67 acres to the north of Kings Cross and St Pancras stations.

It was good to see the event well-attended and I look forward to more of these.

Open day activities in the Western Handyside Canopy. This was a go-karting track for a while.

Looking out towards the Star of Kings pub on York Way

The tour sets off with the old York Road tube station in the distance

Development of The Western Transit Shed is well under way

Building detail near the Coal Drops

Looking into the Coal Drops

I wasn’t a hardcore clubber but I did go to Bagleys a couple of times in the 1990s. That’s it over there.

Central Saint Martins: the new building on the right is attached to the 19th century Granary Complex on the left.


I have to say I’m not particularly keen on what is planned for the area to the south of Regent’s Canal between the two stations. It feels as if too many old buildings have been demolished and too many large office blocks will be replacing them.

Further north however, where this tour took place, things are much more promising. Central Saint Martins already looks fantastic and there is a lot to look forward to as old buildings and spaces are brought back to life.

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