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 Post subject: Sadler's Sampled
PostPosted: Tue Jun 25, 2013 11:34 am 
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Location: Rugby, UK / Taipei
Sadler’s Sampled: Made at Sadler’s Wells
Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London; June 22, 2013

David Mead

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'Hara in Faun. Photo Hugo Glendinning.jpg
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Sadler’s Wells Sampled is two weeks of wide-ranging dance where the atmosphere and feel of the theatre is changed in an attempt to attract new audiences. A big part of that involves ripping out half the seats in the stalls and allowing the audience to stand, prom-like. On-stage, performances range across the whole spectrum of the theatre’s usual offerings, but come mostly in bite-size chunks. Sadler’s Wells Sampled goes way beyond simply watching dance, though. On the opening evening of the season there were before-show discussions, screenings of dance for the camera films, art installations and even a chance for audience members to try their hand at choreography. Some evenings also had post-show talks and even hip-hop and tango classes.

As its title suggests, the opening evening featured three works by the theatre’s associate artists that were “Made at Sadler’s Wells.” Opening things, the original version of Russell Maliphant’s “Afterlight” (now known as “Afterlight Part One”) is still as mesmerising as when it was first seen in the 2009 In the Spirit of Diaghilev programme. Thomasin Gulgeç evoked memories of all those old Nijinsky images as he wheeled with grace and sensitivity in ever more intricate patterns. An essential part of the piece is Michael Hulls’ dappled lighting, a shadowy mixture of shapes and patterns suggesting running water that not only circle but graduate towards the centre before seeming to disappear down some imaginary hole beneath Gulgeç as if swallowing him up.

Even better was to come. Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s “Faun” is hauntingly beautiful and probably comes closer to evoking the music and idea behind it that any other version, Nijinsky’s included. James O’Hara and Daisy Phillips were sensuous and sensitive as they discovered life and each other. They really did look like two new-borns. The choreography may sometimes be acrobatic, but it is always velvety soft and smooth with lots of loose limbs. Nitin Sawhney’s additional music with its echoes of India slots into the Debussy remarkably well.

Wayne McGregor’s “UNDANCE” brought everyone back down to earth with a bit of a bump. It is slightly disappointing. A collaboration with British composer Mark-Anthony Turnage and artist Mark Wallinger, and with the dance inspired by Richard Serra’s compilation of verbs drawn from the work of Victorian photographer Eadweard Muybridge, it is not as dense as many of McGregor’s creations, although it does have a certain complexity.

“UNDANCE” features ten members of Random Dance, in flesh-coloured T-shirts and briefs, set against a gridded video wall. The sides of the stage are completely covered by a huge photograph of a United Nations compound. The dancers’ actions are precise and all illustrate a verb. Lines dissolve into trios and duets and reform with all the dancers on stage most of the time. Moments of order are overtaken by formless clumps that appear to have little structural cohesion.

If that wasn’t busy enough, a further ten dancers appear on the video wall, dancing the same choreography but a few counts in front or behind the live dance. It is impossible to escape the video. The eyes move from one to the other constantly. It certainly has the effect of replicating the stop-start effect of the Muybridge’s motion picture sequences, although I found it annoying and interesting in equal measure.

The highlight comes out of nowhere when a beautifully lucid duet appears, danced with amazing clarity by Fukiko Takase and Travis Clausen-Knight. All those McGregor trademarks, the fluid back, the gorgeous articulated limbs and extensions, previously partly hidden, are now there for all to see.

Sadler’s Sampled continues with Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s Rosas and Ictus with “Drumming” on June 25 and 26; followed by “Sampled” on June 28 and 29, a programme of shorts including work from the Stuttgart Ballet, New Wave Associate Alexander Whitley, Breakin’ Convention and the National Youth Dance Company. Rounding off the season from July 3 to 7 is Hofesh Shechter’s “Political Mother: The Choreographer’s Cut.”


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 Post subject: Re: Sadler's Sampled
PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2013 1:28 am 
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Location: Rugby, UK / Taipei
Sadler’s Sampled: Drumming
Rosas & Ictus
Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London; June 25, 2013

David Mead

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What an uplifting evening! Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s “Drumming” is an hour of thrilling dance set against the swaying, pulsating rhythms of Steve Reich’s score that moves from African drums through marimbas, glockenspiels, chimes and vocals with everything finally coming together in a rousing finale.

The Ictus musicians play at the back of the stage, coming and going as the score requires. Reich’s tapestry of sound is based on a single rhythmic motif that is developed subtly giving it a remarkable richness. It is beautifully structured and full of subtlety with lots of interplaying or overlapping canons, ideas that de Keersmaeker takes on in the dance. Yet she does not merely follow or reflect the score, she enriches it. Even better, she and her dancers make it look completely spontaneous. It is full of the joys of children at play. There is a wonderful sense of community and a real spirit amongst the ensemble that carries across to the audience. You almost wish you could get up and join in.

Proceedings are dominated by an off-white backdrop that suggests linen. The women wear mostly all white, with the men in black and white. Colour comes from the occasional splash of orange and, towards the end, one woman dons a silver dress. The dance is anything but monochromatic, though.

The twelve dancers move smoothly from working against one another to unison. Every moment seems important with not a single second wasted. Like the music, phrases are repeated but with subtle changes. The dancers move individually, coming together for a moment as if by chance, before peeling off to find other playmates. Shapes and formations come and go at speed. They are often interrupted or disturbed by other dancers walking or running through them, performing skimming grand jetés as they surf across the stage on the wave of sound and the energy that comes from the Ictus musicians at the rear. As they do so, the women’s lightweight white dresses in particular flow and billow gently as if caught by a sudden breeze.

De Keersmaeker trademarks are everywhere. There is the stuttering skipping with free swinging arms that she is so fond of, always danced with incredible lightness, and plenty of her favoured swing-arm pivots and changes of direction. Dancers often pause as if to catch the moment, and by doing so ensure we do the same. A single arm or leg angled at 90 degrees at the elbow or knee, often held for a moment is a recurring motif.

It all seems remarkably free. It is as if the stage has no boundaries. All the time the dancers acknowledge each other, often smiling. They look incredibly happy, as if they can hardly believe their luck at dancing such a joyous piece. When not involved they stand at the side, often chatting, probably about the same thing.

Throughout, one strip of dance floor remains rolled, partially revealing a design beneath that suggests some kind of choreographic structure or floor pattern. As the final section reaches its climax it is rolled out. The lights go out. The clue has gone. The performers are no more. But while the music and dance may have stopped on stage, it continues in our minds, the sheer unbridled energy still resonating through the theatre.


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