Sadler’s Wells Sampled
Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London
Sunday 4 February 2007
As part of their newly formed partnership with New York’s City Center, Sadler’s Wells presented a new initiative called Sadler’s Wells Sampled as part of their Spring Season. The project takes after “Fall for Dance”, event that takes place in New York every autumn, and it acts as a presentation of different dance styles in one evening. For the one that I attended, the main forms presented were contemporary dance, Korean martial arts, flamenco, ballet and hip-hop.
The evening started off with Emanuel Gat’s “Winter Voyage”. As an opener I felt it was too long and too repetitive. The performers were good, but for a festive occasion, it felt too dry and serious.
After this, the comperes for the evening, Jeanefer Jean-Charles and Pearl Jordan, introduced the event to the audiences. Though this kind of presentations can be highly successful, on this occasion, the comperes seemed a bit at a loss with each other and with their audiences and they went on for too long on each one of their appearances. This made the different acts start on a low note, instead of a high one, which defeated the purpose of having them introducing the performers. My favourite misquote of the evening was the one that preceded ABT’s performers, and in which we were informed that this was a great occasion because ABT had not performed for the past 17 years… They simply forgot to add “in London”.
The second act was Jasmin Vardimon’s “Justitia”, an extract from their last work. The irony of the work, together with the pure physicality of the performers made this performance much more enjoyable to watch than the preceding one.
YEGAM Theatre’s extract from “Jump” was simply hilarious and the kind of piece to be expected in an evening like this. Not only were the performers riveting to watch in their execution of martial arts steps, but the comedy elements were so well timed that the whole theatre burst out with laughter throughout their act. Their portrayal of a dysfunctional Korean family that communicates through martial arts routines was simply brilliant.
Eva Yerbabuena’s “Espumas del recuerdo” was the flamenco presence that preceded the Festival about to open at the theatre. Yerbabuena’s flamenco is of the purest kind, bata de cola, peinetas and all the traditional uses of the dress and shawl were displayed to the delight of the audience. The musicians that accompanied her performance well deserved the ovation they got.
American Ballet Theatre, who make their welcome visit this week in the theatre, brought Angel Corella and Gillian Murphy, who performed the “Black Swan Pas de Deux”. Both dancers seemed to come out in order to entertain, rather than perform a polished classical pas de deux. Nothing wrong with this, though I found Murphy’s exaggerated movements at times too brusque and, not at all subtle. Corella’s solo was correct, but nothing spectacular. It was not until the Coda, that both dancers seemed to be able to relax and feel comfortable on the stage. Corella delighted the audiences with superb pirouettes and so did Murphy with her fouettés.
The last act of the evening was Franck II Louise’s “Drop It!”, the hip hop piece that a large part of the audience was waiting for… I found the first ten minutes totally devoid of any kind of choreographic or theatrical interest. The dancers, dressed as robots, performed not highly original robotic movements. It was not until they got rid of these costumes – and this vocabulary- that the dance really took off… and how! Some of the combinations these dancers performed on the stage were simply brilliant and their technical accomplishments were at all times thrilling to watch, and wonderfully presented, as there was at no time the sort of “show off” feeling one gets when watching hip hop. The group work was fantastic, the rhythmic qualities of these dancers faultless and, as already said, some of their technical achievements… well, nearly beyond human ability!
As a first attempt, SW Sampled is a welcome addition to the theatre’s annual season, however, more work needs to be put into the presentation and timings of the different acts.