Theaterhaus, Stuttgart, as part of the Colours International Dance Festival
July 9, 2017
An evening of light and shadow, of subtlety, and of fine dance that reaches out, grabs you and doesn’t let go. That is what you get with Russell Maliphant’s Reveal, Conceal, an evening of four beautiful pieces, all deliciously danced last week at Stuttgart’s Colours International Dance Festival.
Best comes last. Piece No.43, so-called because it’s the 43rd work that Maliphant and lighting designer Michael Hulls have collaborated on; a partnership now of over 20 years. As always, Hulls’ lighting is totally integral to the choreography.
At first, the five dancers seem reluctant to enter their own square of light, each dipping part of the body in, only to pause, then withdraw it again. When all five finally fully cross the divide, they take on an assortment of poses as if statuettes, each in their own illuminated display case. It soon becomes apparent that poses and short phrases are being passed along the line, individuality coming as each dancer puts their own take on things as the dance builds in both vocabulary and speed.
The highlight is still to come: a solo for Wu Yu-hsien (吳禹賢) that is jammed with Chinese dance and especially martial arts references. Circling and thrusting limbs abound as she twists and turns. Unexpected pauses and balances, and moments of suspension come from nowhere. It is remarkably clear and precise.
The achingly beautiful final duet between Maliphant and Erik Murzagaliyev to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata runs it close, though. The couple roll and slide and somersault around each other like two insects feeling each other out before deciding whether to take a confrontation further. I’m not so convinced about the presence of the three women, who dance upstage as a backing group, wafting in a gentle breeze, though.
Earlier, the evening opened with Maliphant’s wife, Dana Fouras, dancing with and within her shadows in both, and, a very feminine dance again full of turns, gently sweeping arms and changes of dynamic.
Maliphant dances the solo, One Part II, himself. Is the near-poetic dance as abstract as it may seem? I’m not so sure. I can’t help seeing a man along with his thoughts or memories as he crouches and whirls around, the choreography like elegant slow-motion capoeira, maybe with a hint of tai chi. In Two x Three, the threesome of Fouras, Wu and Grace Jabbari dance serenely largely within diamonds of light.
All round, an evening that showed what a fine craftsman Russell Maliphant continues to be. While he works very much within his own style, he is constantly remodelling; always capturing marvellously the individual energies and qualities of the dancers he has to work with. And then there’s his partnership with Michael Hulls that shows just how important lighting can be in choreography, should anyone need convincing.