Review: Sadler's Sampled - Sadler's Wells

Performance: 29 & 30 January 2016
Reviewed by Rachel Elderkin - Monday 1 February 2016

'Outlier', Company Wayne McGregor. Photo: Andrew Lang

Performance reviewed: 29 January

Sadler’s Sampled presents a diverse selection of work from ballet and contemporary to tango, break dance and circus. The annual event offers audiences a chance to see some of the season’s upcoming works at Sadler’s Wells, as well as presenting a general overview of the choreographers and performers working in dance today.

Company Wayne McGregor opened the evening with Outlier. Originally created for New York City Ballet, McGregor’s choreography has a minimalist, Balanchine-esque style. Its strong classical lines and quick, intricate movements follow irregular patterns that force the dancers to constantly shift their weight, pushing their bodies off balance while requiring them to maintain perfect control. Their sharp execution of McGregor’s complex choreography, speedy transitions between steps and repeated leg extensions makes for a technically exciting work.

The piece moves through a series of scenes, driven on by Thomas Adès chirruping string music. Yet, despite the technical skill required for this work, there are few moments that really stand out. The only distinguishing moment is a male pas de deux where Alvaro Dule, partnered by Louis McMiller, dances a role which, choreographically, is distinctly female. It’s a dynamic subversion that sticks in the memory. It doesn’t feel like an attempt to make a gender statement, more an acknowledgement that it is the simple beauty of movement on a body that lies at the heart of this piece.

The strength of Sampled is that performers from differing dance backgrounds and stages of their careers can share the same stage. Royal Ballet Principal Zenaida Yanowsky gave a touching performance of Michel Fokine’s The Dying Swan, (which replaced an extract of Northern Ballet’s 1984 in the programme, due to injury), while two of the finalists from the BBC Young Dancer Award also performed their works from the 2015 show.

Accompanied by three musicians and fellow Kathak dancer Jaina Modasia, finalist Vidya Patel performed Khoj – The Search. Patel and Modasia danced the gestural and rhythmic combinations of their Kathak duet with a gentle spirit, presenting a charming interpretation of this classical Indian dance form.
2015 winner Connor Scott performed a short but energetic contemporary solo of his own choreography. Get Up explores society’s addiction to technology and anti-social behaviour yet, without the introductory video clip (a reality show style set-up that somewhat interrupts this enjoyable evening of work) there was little in this solo that would otherwise suggest any connection to its concept. The strength and clarity of Scott’s movement show him to be a worthy winner of his title but perhaps this young artist could take a note from McGregor’s wealth of experience and accept that there’s no shame in letting his evident joy in movement speak for itself.

Les 7 Doigts de la Main/The 7 Fingers, a company combining circus and dance, will be performing at Sadler’s Wells in April. For Sampled they performed an excerpt from Marcos Morau’s (of La Veronal) Nocturnes, a piece exploring the obscure point between dream and reality. Nocturne’s elements of mime, combined with the manipulation of one performer’s highly flexible limbs, gives this work a suitably surreal touch as a dream-like world unfolds. The excerpt offers a tantalising glimpse of what promises to be an intriguing piece.

Dance partners Julia Hiriart Urruty and Claudio Gonzalez brought a contemporary touch to the Argentine Tango with a piece that painted a tender story of an old man’s memories of his wife. Their second performance returned to a more traditional approach; their entwined legs, fleet footwork and proximity of their bodies capturing the excitement of Argentine Tango.

The energetic explosion on to the stage of breakdance group Rugged couldn’t be more different, yet both are styles that require precision, control and timing. Their playful approach to their performance as they vie with each other and fly through tricks and freezes with apparent ease makes for an enjoyable end to a diverse evening of work. Catch them at Breakin’ Convention, on 30 April & 1 May 2016.

Not only does Sampled leave you with a promise of exciting performances to come but it shows just how varied and rich the dance world is.

Rachel Elderkin is a freelance dancer and dance writer. She has written for a number of arts publications and regularly contributes to The Stage, Fjord Review and British Theatre Guide. Twitter: @Rachel_Elderkin

Main photo: Company Wayne McGregor in Outlier by Andrew Lang

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