The final work performed in London, Noetic, examines the tension between the human need to plan and the desire to break free.
It’s a highly stylish and elegant piece of choreography, brought to life by the moving orchestral score of Szymon Brzóska, although at times it suffers from attempting to be too intellectual,.
Sculptor Antony Gormley’s set design features a striking bright white backdrop and a set of uniquely versatile, black carbon rods handled by the dancers later in the piece, sometimes joined together as hoops, or left loose to create structures that enclose the cast. However, the first portion of action in this hour long work is left to the dance alone, and there is no denying what exquisite technicians the company are.
Cherkaoui’s choreography for Noetic requires vigorous precision with complex use of hands and arms, flicks of wrists, fingers and elbows that soon emerge as repeated motifs. The full group of nineteen dancers rarely move as one unit, but when they do they display an impressive elegance in such a physically demanding work, turning out well drilled headstands and back-bends, as well as jetés and pirouettes. Brzóska’s temperamental score moves from moments of high energy to stillness and back again.
The high-fashion costuming by Les Hommes provides Noetic with a strong visual identity. The men wear smart black business suits and the women skater style flared dresses in a leather-esque material paired with kneepads and on occasion, patent black heels. The shoes are another repeated motif, consistently taken on and off. Early on, a man walks across the stage carrying them in his hand as if to hint at their later significance. Further on some of the cast swap costumes, the men donning the heels and the women the suits, but the change is never acknowledged by the remaining cast.
A series of scientific monologues on electricity, time, space, data, the meaning of life, and so on are delivered at intervals throughout; but it’s all too disjointed to discern true meaning. Toby Kassell’s monologue has the cleanest delivery, with slick accompanying armorgraphy making for an accomplished addition.
Focus shifts to the carbon rods. When joined they are spun like gymnastics hoops, their shapes striking against the white backdrop. The dancers mould the hoops together to form a globe that rises above their heads, which then becomes a cage that traps two of them. These moments are constructed with mesmerising complexity: the rods never clash or appear out of place, and the cast’s use of space to deliver the precision with an unpredictable prop is very impressive.
The connectivity between dancers and the curves of the carbon fibre lines and how they interact is primarily what Cherkaoui is concerned with in Noetic, but there are too many other trains of thought that distract from the overall message. Noetic is still visually an attractive piece of art, but with dancers of such a high calibre, Cherkaoui could rely more on them than on the spoken word to make an impact.
|What||GöteborgsOperans Danskompani Review|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
30 Nov 18 – 01 Dec 18, Dur.: 1 hour
|Price||£12-£38 (+booking fee)|
|Website||Click here to book via Sadler's Wells website|