Reviewer: Richard Maguire
Sampled is a tasting menu of dance, showcasing what we can expect at Sadler’s Wells this year. Over two hours, the audience are treated to snatches of flamenco and ballet, contemporary and hip-hop. There’s something here for everyone, but, importantly, it also introduces new dance styles to those people who, otherwise, might be set in their ways.
On the basis of this evening, there seems to be one runaway success: Rambert2. This new dance ensemble, with its home on London’s Southbank, presents 20 minutes of Killer Pig, which they first performed at Sadler’s Wells last autumn. Choreographed by Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar, and with music by Ori Lichtik, Killer Pig was first performed in 2009, but in Rambert2’s production the piece seems to have come from the future.
Dressed in their underwear to reveal their sinewy bodies, the eight dancers move like one machine, each of them a piston. They move across the stage in a shoal jerking their shoulders to the relentless beat. Sometimes two or three dancers break off to start their own rhythms, but soon they are propelled back to the fold. This minimalist piece, like Philip Glass on acid, is hypnotic and shows off the talents of this young company perfectly.
While nothing quite matches the otherworldliness of Rambert2, each act receives a generous welcome, and with the front stalls removed so that some of the audience is standing, Sampled feels like a gig, especially when Uchenna Dance open the evening. The audience whooped at the proud poses, influenced by waacking and vogue, of the six dancers. In Fierce and Free, the women brandish their head wraps as powerful symbols of womanhood, defiant and beautiful.
There’s posturing of a different kind in Mavin Khoo’s restrained Odissi Solo, a classical Indian dance form. With the bells attached to his ankles, Khoo becomes as much as an instrument as a dancer, hitting the beats alongside the live musicians playing the sitar, mardala and the flute. He swirls in ever increasing squares, which are lit upon the stage.
Also making her own music is flamenco dancer Patricia Guerrero. The sheer fury of her shoes, and the dragging of her heel as she makes semi-circles upon the stage, become her percussion, and, when singer Sergio El Colorao arrives on stage, her voice. The musical conversation between the two is dramatic and exciting. Guerrero’s style, a fusion of the old and the new, is impressive, and she’s definitely worth checking out when she returns in July.
The Richard Alston Dance Company return in March, but here in Sampled they mix contemporary and ballet to the cheerful sounds of Brahms. Fluid, as they leap across the stage, they look splendid in their costumes designed by Hilary Wili. They are certainly the best-dressed dance ensemble of the evening, and they are a joy to watch.
BirdGang wear a different kind of uniform for their performance; black hoodies, green trousers white trainers. But it’s their eerie masks that bring menace to their hip-hop routine. The ingenious lighting design picks out groups of dancers, their disguise hiding their gender so all we see are the precise scissors of the arms and legs in their breathless routine.
Amidst all the energy of all the performers, Semperoper Ballett is an oasis of calm. The two dancers, Sangeun Lee and Raphaël Coumes-Marquet present two dances here, both exquisite and detailed, especially the excerpt from Neue Suite, danced to the music of Bach and choreographed by William Forsythe.
While the main acts were presented in the auditorium, other dance companies took over the foyers both before the show started and during the interval. And with other events happening at the end of the evening it did seem as if Sadler’s Wells was bursting with dance.
Reviewed on 8 February 2019 | Image: Contributed