Founded 10 years ago in Hungary and now based in Berlin, DART Dance Company’s movement language is primarily that of contemporary dance: very physical, very grounded, relying a lot on syncopated movement. Both choreographers represented in their first programme found ways to build on those specific characteristics to create two diverse pieces.
The evening opened with Text Me When You Land, a new piece by the American choreographer Peter Chu, whose signature style is to push the physical boundaries of dance. It started with a striking coup de théâtre: a flash of light pierced the gloom as a drumbeat brought the dancers crashing to the ground. Absolute darkness falls.
The light gradually goes up on a hazy stage to reveal two red chairs. Because the piece references a journey, we assume this sole prop symbolises its starting point; some 25 minutes later, it also becomes the arrival point.
The seven dancers, all women, are dressed in very drab greyish costumes, which they add to, or strip off. There is much to-ing and fro-ing, but what really works are the duets, where the parity between the women is thrilling, their push and pull, mutual lifts, alternating balance of power so far from the standard roles of traditional duets.
Excellent dancers all, I found their dancing much preferable to certain sections that came across as gimmicks, such as an unconvincing vocal argument over an oversized overcoat.
The second piece in the programme brought a novelty: a man, the sole male dancer in the current company. Ukiyo, choreographed by the Albanian Blenard Azizaj, whose many international collaborations include the Akram Khan Company, is a piece for the full company of seven women and one man.
Ukiyo in Japanese means ‘floating world,’ and a programme note tells us the piece is inspired by the Buddhist belief in the cycle of life, death and reincarnation with its attendant suffering and sorrow.
I found it hard to discern any of that. To me, the domineering topless male suggested a semi-savage faun, throwing his weight around seven nymphs or maidens before being relatively becalmed by one of them; but that didn’t diminish my enjoyment of much of this piece.
For one thing the dancers were actually wearing nice costumes in ecru tones, with long flowing flaps down the sides and patterned tops (it is nice to move away from drab practice costumes, which seem to be very much the vogue now). Plaudits to costume designer Kriszta Csaba.
For another, there was some remarkable ensemble dancing to a pulsating, syncopated sound score. If some of the required lifts and acrobatics looked a little strained, the floor work was meticulously rehearsed and executed.
Lighting design for both pieces was by Christian Scharrer; but curiously, nowhere could I find credits for the sound scores of either piece.
Note: In Friday's programme Ukiyo is replaced by Anton Lachky's Make a Wish
|What||DART Dance Company Review|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
23 Mar 23 – 24 Mar 23, 19:30 Dur.: 23 March 1 hour 30 mins; 24 March 1 hour 20 mins (both inc interval)
|Price||£17 (+booking fee)|
|Website||Click here to book|