An ex-étoile of the Paris Opera, turning in maturity towards a more contemporary style, Sylvie Guillem is a name to draw a crowd, and darling of the British contemporary scene Akram Khan no less so. They make an arresting pair - the tall Guillem’s implausibly long-limbed elegance alongside Khan’s stockier speed and power. It’s enough to explain the breathless anticipation that surrounded this piece on its first performance in 2006.
Monsters features a slow solo for Guillem by Cloud Gate Dance Theatre ’s Lin Hwai Min, and a blazing Kathak solo for Khan choreographed by Gauri Sharma Tripathi, a choreographer innovating within traditional Indian classical dance. These mark out the traditional foundations of each dancer’s career before exploration begins. Danced against Shizuka Hariu’s clean white set, it’s an exotic mix.
The rest of the performance is shared between informally staged chats and original duets: in one duet, they mime the instructions of their teachers in a puppetish exchange, a second sees Guillem hang from Khan’s waist, mirroring his every move, and another joins them at the fingers to swerve around each other in a struggle to get in their own steps. The mavericks are accompanied on stage by a barefoot selection of five musicians, of which two are vocalists, alongside a specially commissioned score by Philip Sheppard.
There are some surprises in the spoken interludes to the dance, not least of which is Guillem’s grasp of drama - the Financial Times noted “Here is a cool, stylish comedienne waiting to be exploited”. Of course there’s an unavoidable whiff of self-indulgence in such psycho-fare, but the fears and musings of these two dance icons have a justified claim on our interest.
Visitors shouldn’t go to this performance expecting the extremes of talent of which Khan and Guillem are capable, but rather an introspective and expressive work by two of today’s greatest performers.
|What||Sacred Monsters, Sadler’s Wells|
Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
25 Nov 14 – 29 Nov 14, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
|Website||Click here to book via the Sadler’s Wells website|