Enclosed in a throbbing rectangle of horizontal bars on a crepuscular stage (lighting by Michael Hulls, animation by Jan Urbanowski) Mbi could be a prisoner or a caged animal struggling to be free to the pulsating crescendo of Armand Amar’s score.
There was something untamed, almost primeval about his dancing; and it was only the entrance of a female figure, danced by the very expressive Grace Jabbari, that seemed to becalm his titanic struggle.
Still was the highlight of an evening that revisited some old works and included a UK premiere, and for the first time a video installation, too.
The installation, entitled Other, is a short split-screen film of Maliphant and his long-term collaborator and wife Dana Fouras each braving the rolling waves of the Atlantic. Signed by Tim Etchells and Hugh Glendinning, it’s an entrancing work, where the evening’s concept of ‘duet’ applies also to each performer’s engagement with the waves.
Other runs on a loop in the Print Room Studio and you can see that at any time, before or after the performance, or during the interval, if you can drag yourself away from what must be the classiest theatre bar in London.
Part One of the performance proper consists of two duets. Mbi joins Maliphant himself in Critical Mass, a typically slow, dreamy Maliphant choreography, very grounded, with extensive use of plié, and not a little borrowing from Oriental martial arts, namely tai chi. The coordination between the two men is remarkable, leading one to marvel at the Maliphant’s longevity as a dancer, and Mbi’s versatility.
The second piece is Two Times Two. It builds on the rare eloquence of Dana Fouras’ long arms and torso. Two women stand in separate boxes of light, most of their dancing done with upper bodies, arms like wings or swords or tremulous tree branches, bodies bending forward or reaching for the sky. Grace Jabbari provides a good counterpoint to Fouras.
The last piece of the evening is Duet which offers the first opportunity in 15 years to see Maliphant and Fouras dancing together. As long-time work and life partners, they are perfectly attuned to each other, and the work bears an aura of softness enhanced by a sound score that includes the wistful love aria Una Furtiva Lacrima, from Donizetti’s opera L’Elisir d’Amore.
maliphantworks2 brings the Russell Maliphant Company to The Print Room at the Coronet for the second year running, the intimate nature of the performance space there providing a perfect setting for the work of this extraordinary choreographer.
|The Coronet Theatre, Print Room, 103 Notting Hill Gate, London, W11 3LB | MAP
|Notting Hill Gate (underground)
06 Mar 18 – 17 Mar 18, 19:30 Dur.: 1 hour and 10 minutes approx with one interval. No performance 11, 12 March
|£20-£28 (concessions available)
|Click here to book via the Print Room website