Review: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment - Henri Oguike - V4: The Seasons - Southbank Centre

Performance: 8 & 9 February 2013
Reviewed by Laura Dodge - Tuesday 12 February 2013

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment with Henri Oguike's dancers in 'V4: The Seasons. Photo:Joe Plommer

Performance reviewed: 8 February, 6.30pm

This collaboration between the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) and choreographer Henri Oguike at the Southbank Centre, billed primarily as a music event, attracted a notably different audience to those usually found at dance performances. With so many viewers likely to be unfamiliar with contemporary dance, it was a shame that Oguike’s choreography didn’t seem to have the power or melodic affinity that he has displayed so brilliantly in other works.

George Balanchine once stated that good choreography is like a visualisation of sound, such that you “see the music, hear the dance”. There were moments when this was achieved but the majority of the time, Oguike’s movements appeared to be at odds with the delightful rendition of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, played on period instruments.

The choreography was generally angular and jerky and it was when this matched the musical sharpness that the work was most successful. However, the performers’ weighty movements frequently felt at odds with the score’s lyricism. Duets provided the most interesting moments with dancers intricately curving and interweaving their bodies in a manner that worked well in the intimate setting of the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

The seventeen talented musicians of the OAE outshone the dance on display. Lead violinist and conductor Kati Debretzeni, stood out particularly as she navigated the stage while playing, frequently just inches away from the dancers. For me, her incredibly adept finger and bow skills made the evening’s most pleasing choreography.

Watch a video clip of Henri Oguike’s dancers in rehearsa with OAE below…

Laura Dodge writes for a number of publications including Dancing Times, and English National Ballet’s Dance is the Word blog. She has an MA in Ballet Studies and also teaches dance to children in central London.

Photo: Joe Plommer

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