Posts Tagged ‘dance review’

Review – Les 7 Doigts de la Main’s “Traces” – Peacock Theatre

March 4, 2009

Last night I went with W, Cate, and DJM to see Les 7 Doigts de la Main’s “Traces” show at the Peacock Theatre. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect – it had been billed as a circus show but was being handled by a theater (Sadler’s Wells) I normally consider as being about modern dance. And yet it was being recommended to me by someone as a kind of Cirque du Soleil thing. What was it going to be about?

Well, as it turned out, it was kind of a post-apocalyptic acrobatic modern dance piece done to a soundtrack that ranged from industrial to rap, with five 20-ish performers who actually took the time to exhibit some personality on stage rather than just being faceless, interchangeable performers. There was sort of a narrative, but not much – it was mostly a series of various stunts with conversation (and occasionally music) between them. One piece was set up as a reality TV show, but it was mostly a set up for people doing back flips off of a teeter-totter. Far more interesting were the pure motion bits, such as the tumbling routines that opened the show, the runs and flips off of vertical poles that closed out the first act, and the dives, jumps, and flights (practically) through hoops that ended it. I really enjoyed the male/female balancing act in the first act (though it made me think of the much more emotionally engaging Circus Contraption with nostalgia, this despite the high emotion of the performance in question) and the very unusual “man trapped in giant metal hula hoop” thing in the second act, which was completely unique in my memory.

I enjoyed the hard edge of this troupe, with their utterly unshowy costumes and industrial set, but I felt that with the very high quality of acrobatics involved, it could have been so much more. La Clique utterly embraces the “fun cabaret” thing, though the performances are of mixed quality; Circus Contraption creates a wonderful “Edward Gorey Goes to the Carnival” atmosphere that compensates for not having professionally trained acrobats among their numbers (and their costumes are great – willpower overcoming budget, I think). While I liked Les 7 Doigts de la Main’s aesthetic and really appreciate their skills, I hope that the next time they come through they will have thought up a more compelling way to display their talents. Still, it was a good night out, and I would certainly recommend it (as long as you get discount tickets).

(“Traces” continues at the Peacock Theatre through March 14th. This review is for a performance that took place on March 3rd.)

Review of “Dances at a Gathering” (Jerome Robbins) – Royal Ballet – Royal Opera House

June 10, 2008

Last night while J was in his French class, W and I headed to the Royal Opera House to see Jerome Robbin’s “Dances at a Gathering.” Both of us were pretty worn out from a long day at work, but with 6 quid day seats, we thought we’d give it a go and just see the first part of the show (the second half, a Midsummer Night’s Dream-based ballet by Frederick Ashton, just didn’t interest me much). We met first for dinner at Inn Noodle, then walked over to Covent Garden in the lovely summer evening.

The ballet was lovely, full of the humor that I expect from Robbins, and the music, by Chopin, was a treat to listen to. While I expected Marianela Nunez (as “Pink”) was going to be the be the star of the evening, it was in fact Tamara Rojo (as “Mauve”) whose performance I enjoyed the most. In one scene, late in the ballet, three men, backs to the audience, are holding three women, facing forward, on their shoulders and Ms. Rojo’s leg arched up just so, an absolutely perfect curving line the other women seemed a bit too tired to emulate. But, really, each of the dancers was a pleasure: “Brown” (Johan Kobborg) and “Brick” (I think – Sergei Polunin if it was) had a great duel (and Brown’s solo near the end of the evening was spectacular), and “Green” (Lauren Cuthbertson) had a wonderful bit as an ignored dance partner, fluttering and flailing and just hamming it up like you think ballerinas could never do.

Part of what I enjoy so much about Robbins is the way each dancer seems to have a personality and character – the dancers aren’t bodies on stage, they are performers with relationships to each other. They flirt, they are shy, they show off, they challenge each other, they are irritated. Watching this show was so fun that I couldn’t help compare it to some of the shows I’d seen earlier in the Linbury this year. It’s probably not fair to compare the dancers of the Royal Ballet, performing choreography by Robbins, to about anything else, but, well, they were great and at the top of the pack, surely a standard by which to judge others. It was a good evening, though I was grateful to have decided to leave early as I was just plain worn out and wanted to get to bed before 11:30.

A special callout to Paul Stobart, who filled in as the piano soloist at the last minute. How he was ever able to figure out the proper timing of the pieces on such short notice is beyond me, but he very much deserved the applause he got at the end of the evening!

(This review is for a performance that took place on June 10th, 2008.)

Review – Ko Murobushi (Butoh) – The Place

October 18, 2007

The Ko Murobushi show at the Place last night was pretty cool, but it’s hard to explain to people what was good about a Butoh show. “Er, a naked guy coated in silvery paint crawled across the floor for half an hour, then he stood up? The climax was him throwing sand around?” We were tranfixed by his utter control of his body – it was like moving sculpture – and I liked the way he felt so fragile, somehow, despite being obviously so strong. He made the Butoh dance troop I saw in Seattle look really … I don’t know, jejeune or something. It seems to me that there’s a certain quality of good Butoh, that it feels “sincere” somehow – I’m not sure how to express it. But we thought it was good, and the house was sold out, so apparently there are more than 12 people that like Butoh in London, just not any among my circle of friends.

(This review is for a show that took place October 17th, 2007.)