Parisian performance artist Bartabas has put on a dance show at Sadler’s Wells that involves four of them. This is redolent of what he does as director of the Théatre Equestre Zingaro, but Golgota is something of a departure, and not just because of his new collaboration with contemporary flamenco dancer Andrés Marín. Eschewing the grand spectacle of his earlier shows, this is a far stranger production.
Forget flamenco stereotypes of stomping heels and Señorita - Golgota is a more muted affair. Everything is a shade of charcoal, and the dancing is accompanied only by a countertenor, a lute, and a cornet: the stage is covered in what looks like ash – actually rubber chips – so the almighty clatter you might expect from horses and flamenco is absorbed.
Consequently, the horses are eerie, ghost-like creatures. When required to do so, they flop over silently. Just a gentle breath from Marín will send one drifting backwards as though hypnotised. Only the occasional snort reminds you that these are living, breathing animals.
In a way, it is almost the opposite of War Horse. Instead of conjuring believably physical horses with inanimate puppetry, Golgota takes real horses and makes them seem like paper silhouettes or mirages.
The result is no less entertaining: it might not be a tear-jerker, but Golgota is mesmerising and uncomplicatedly gorgeous.
The religious allusions are deliberately secondary to the choreography. Bartabas has described himself and dancer Marín as ‘like two boys locked in church… we play with all that we find’. But it is in the playing that the real source of his worship is revealed: from the clouds of incense, the figure of the horse emerges otherworldly, and Bartabas’ talent is for allowing the audience to share his vision of the sacred.
|What||Bartabas: Golgota, Sadler's Wells review|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
14 Mar 16 – 21 Mar 16, 19:30; no perf. Thu 17; mat Sun 16:00
|Website||Click here to book through Sadler's Wells website|