Choreographer: David Middendorp
Reviewer: Richard Maguire
From Britain’s Got Talent to the Peacock Theatre, Sadler’s Wells’ more populist venue, is not a bad career move. And David Middendorp’s company Another Kind of Blue certainly repeats the spectacle that saw it reach the semi-final of the talent show in 2016, and, in a different guise, the semi-final of America’s Got Talent in 2014. Middendorp’s dancers perform against and, sometimes, on top of animated film, offering audiences new perspectives. But their show at The Peacock seems a little disjointed and, despite the hard work of the performers, strangely vacant.
The biggest applause of the evening is for the piece Flyland in a Room, which Another Kind of Blue performed on BGT. This longer version tells the story of two lovers falling out of love, and has the couple swirling around on the floor, moving on top of a projection featuring clouds and sometimes the shadows of other people. Way above them is a camera that captures this image and then projects it onto a screen so that the two lovers are now hurtling through the air without parachutes or being tossed from one animated hand to another. It’s impressive stuff, but also distracting as one watches too closely to make sure each dancer finds, exactly, their mark.
Flirt with Reality consists of five similar pieces with the likes of Radiohead and Clint Mansell providing the bleak and hopeless soundtracks. In As It Appears, another piece about unrequited love, two dancers dance atop of an ocean, their moves influenced by ballet and contemporary, with the slightest echoes of flamenco in their circling feet. In Blue Journey a woman tries to find her true self as she dances with shadows projected on the giant screen. There’s lots of earnest posturing, which makes one yearn for some comedy. The evening is a chilly one-note affair.
Better is Airman where a single performer dances with an army of drones swooping menacingly above him or Game Engine where the whole company builds a wall on stage with live music by Niti Ranjan Biswas playing the tabla. In this last piece technology takes the back seat, and, with fewer distractions, the dance improves. Each dancer carries a building block from one side of the stage to another, copying the movements of the previous dancer, learning from them perhaps, before they dash behind stage to collect their next brick. The repetitions are mesmeric and the dance, now with elements of hip-hop, seems a better choice for this young company.
Apart from the drone sequence, Flirt with Reality does little to examine our increasingly reliant relationship with technology, and, while the camerawork is precise, there’s little here to really stir the passion. Too often it looks like one long video game that, unfortunately, someone else is playing.
Runs until 14 July 2019 | Image: