All through the front of house spaces dance artists mingle with public, some in person, some on screen in especially filmed short pieces, some through their words plastered on the walls.
Inside the seats have gone from the stalls, which has become a promenade area. On stage, an eclectic collection of Sadler’s Wells featured artists bring the sold out house works that range from hip hop through classical Indian dance, pure ballet, contemporary, flamenco and African-inspired dance theatre.
Brand new this year was an extract from choreographer Richard Alston’s latest work, Brahms Hungarian, set to Brahms Hungarian Dances for Piano played live by Jason Ridgway. Once again, we marvelled at the musical sweep of Alston’s choreography, his trademark blend of classical and contemporary moves, his response to Brahms’ references to the Hungarian czardas, all meticulously and joyfully performed by his Richard Alston Dance Company.
Also new was flamenco dancer Patrica Guerrero’s Proceso Eterno. In a lustrous lead-coloured long dress and accompanied first by a percussionist and later by a singer, Guerrero danced a fiery foot-stamping, swirling solo created by her to bring traditional flamenco into the 21st century.
Equally entrancing, but in a meditative, other-worldly way, was Mavi Khoo’s Odissi Solo, a classical Indian dance originating in the temple traditions of eastern India’s Orissa state. Accompanied by four Indian classical musicians, Khoo, a small, intense figure clad in subdued gold and red, danced within a square of light – his every movement neat and precise, his red painted palms drawing soft lines in front of his torso.
Mavin Khoo, Odissi Solo (c) Wong Horng Yih
From Dresden in Germany came two dancers from Semperoper Ballet, whose visit to Sadler’s Wells last summer was rapturously received.
Sangeun Lee and Raphaël Coumes-Marquet danced two pas de deux: the first from Balanchine’s Diamonds, to recorded Tchaikovsky music, was the choreographer’s homage to the classicism and courtly grandeur of Imperial Russia; and William Forsythe’s Bach Duet to Bach’s Alemande Partita No. 1.
Sangeun Lee in particular is a striking dancer: tall, leggy and lithe, her body creates luscious shapes, be it in a fluid back bend or in the seeming infinite reach of her arms.
Of the two works, the Forsythe worked best; Balanchine’s duet looking somewhat bare and out of place without its proper context.
Rambert’s junior company, Rambert2, reprised one of the works of its inaugural programme – Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar’s Killer Pig, here much more impactful as a 20 minute extract than it was in its original overlong full format. To a thumping one-two, one-two electronic score by Ori Lichtick, the young dancers showed their mettle in a work of fierce, at times savage physicality.
Hip hop opened and closed the evening. There is something enthusiastic and endearingly amateurish about the six women of Uchenna Dance and their African-inflected whaacking-styled number, The Head Wrap Diaries.
BirdGang brought the evening to a euphoric close with its athletic brand of hip hop, the dancers’ faces masked so that only the bodies spoke to us – and how they spoke! The work's title asked, What Is BirdGang? Now we know...
Sadler’s Wells Sampled does indeed illustrate the extraordinary range and vitality of the North London dance house; but, on balance, the show itself feels a little like a meal with a varied and abundant hors d’oeuvre, that nevertheless leaves diners craving a main course.
|What||Sadler's Wells Sampled 2019 Review|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
08 Feb 19 – 09 Feb 19, Sat workshops from 13:30. Show starts 19:30 Dur.: 2 hours and 30 mins inc one interval
|Price||£20 (£5 standing)|
|Website||Click here to book via Sadler's Wells website|