Sadler’s Wells, London
February 2, 2018
Sadler’s Wells threw a party on Friday night. The music and partying started well before show and continued on into the night and they even ripped out seats in the stalls to make more room. On stage the talent ranged from the hottest on the street to the coolest from the Royal Opera House. As Fats Waller might have said, the joint was jumpin’.
The major work of the evening was danced by one of the first youth companies and still one of the best: Nederlands Dans Theater 2. Wir sagen uns Dunkles by Marco Goecke is a fast, busy number, danced by eleven young dancers who seem to have no trouble moving at the speed of light. Goeke’s characteristic explosive, twitching movements find their own expressive language and individual personalities shine through. The trousers, with a feathered addition down the back, added a softening detail to the bodies, reinforcing the otherworldly effect in this engaging work.
The BBC Young Dancers, as expected, proved hugely popular. Jodelle Douglas and Harry Barnes, finalists in 2017 and 2015 respectively, came together in friendly competition making cool street moves in fancy lighting. Nafisah Baba, the 2017 winner, has an enigmatic presence and in eminently watchable. In Inescapable, dressed in simple sports gear she weighs up her conflicting teenage desires for dance and basketball. Fortunately, it was dance she chose.
The almost mystic power of Fokine’s The Dying Swan, never ceases to amaze. The solo, danced internationally by Pavlova, encapsulates ‘ballet’ in a few short minutes. It has been deconstructed by ‘Lil Buck’ Riley, send up mercilessly by the Trocks but danced with utter purity, as it was by Zenaida Yanowsky, it can still hold an audience spellbound. The moment before folding into the final iconic swan pose, as she stretches her arms up, full of longing, was heart-stopping.
The other ballet excerpt Kin, by Alexander Whitley, consolidated his developing style showing a keen eye for shape, line and supported by effective design. It was given a quality performance by Jenna Roberts and Mathias Dingman from Birmingham Royal Ballet who merged ballet and contemporary dance to striking affect.
Inclusivity was foremost in the programme and Candoco played their part. Excerpts are seldom able to show the full impact of a work and the section from Dedicated to … choreographed by Caroline Bowditch remained a rather soft-centred female duo of togetherness that was not helped by a particularly murky and ineffective lighting design.
In contrast, effective lighting was at the forefront in ZERO, a collaborative event from choreographer/performers Júlia Robert Parés and Rudi Cole, sound designer Iain Armstrong and lighting designer Tom Visser. The dance evolved from standing sculptural shapes, rippling through a diverse range of movement to finish snuggled together. It was moody, a little hypnotic and very compelling.
Jesús Carmona accompanied by singer, Juan José Amador Amador and guitarist, Daniel Jurado took to the stage with Soleá Del Campillo, an emblematic style of flamenco. We expect high drama from the form but the volatile interplay between the three men brought the intensity to fever pitch.
You may not know your b-boying from your popping, but hip hop is so joyously infectious that it is hard not to love it. It is also egalitarian par excellence, absorbing a range of body sizes and shapes and taking no notice of status, the only criteria is talent and Yeah Yellow have this is spades. Sunshine is directed and choreographed by Julien Saint Maximin ‘Bee D’ and Camille Regneault ‘Kami’, who, as the only woman very nearly steals the show. An explosion of energy in sophisticated presentation, the virtuosity is interspersed between ensemble dance segments to pace the energy and build to a climax. Changing to signature yellow jackets and dancing to Let the Sunshine In they closed the evening on a high.
Sadler’s Wells Sampled is a great idea for opening doors and shifting audiences from their comfort zones – long may it continue.