We rarely get the chance to see her live, so Turn It Out with Tiler Peck and Friends at Sadler's Wells feels like a privileged opportunity to see on stage someone we're better acquainted with through film.
Tiler Peck describes the programme she curated as ‘a love letter to dance’ – not just ballet, but dance in all its multiple manifestations – and that’s exactly what she gives us with four pieces that range from pure ballet to tap and much else besides.
It opens with Thousandth Orange, a piece for six dancers choreographed by Peck herself during a period of injury, and set to a piano quartet by Caroline Shaw, played live on stage.
It’s a gentle, playful piece that works as an appetiser: clad in body-hugging leotards in intense pastels, the dancers start by responding to the stuttering dialogue between piano and strings, before moving on to more fluid, plastic movement. Whether in pairs or as a whole they create uninterrupted movement that flows into pictorial tableaux.
Tiler Peck can definitely choreograph.
Swift Arrow, a pas de deux created by veteran choreographer Alonzo King for Tiler Peck and her regular NYCB partner Roman Mejia to music by the jazz composer Jason Moran, is an intense encounter between two very physical beings, that push and pull, Mejia all anchoring strength, Peck all fluid elasticity. It’s mesmerising.
Roman Mejia and Tiler Peck in Swift Arrow. Photo: Christopher Duggan
Time Spell, Tiler Peck’s creation with tap dancer extraordinaire Michelle Dorrance, is like a long jam session with plenty of room for improvisation, where tap and ballet dancers move between collaboration and challenge on a dark, blue-tinged stage. They do so to eerie musical vocalisations composed by Penelope Wendlandt and Aaron Marcellus Sanders, both of whom sing live on stage.
It opens with a thrilling tap solo by Dorrance on a platform wired for sound. Gradually other dancers join in in a flurry of movement where tappers dance and dancers tap in a joyful, if a touch overlong, celebration of the sheer exhilaration of dance.
Choreographer William Forsythe’s The Barre Project, Blake Works II started life during lockdown. Set to music by Forsythe favourite James Blake and created entirely on Zoom, it was first seen digitally in 2021. Its stage adaptation is no less exciting, Forsythe’s fast, demanding, virtuoso choreography a perfect fit for its four dancers: Peck herself, Lex Ishimoto, Brooklyn Mack and Roman Mejia.
Brooklyn Mack, Tiler Peck, Lex Ishimoto and Ramon Mejia in William Forsythe's The Barre Project: Blake Works II. CLI Studios
Led by Peck, the dancers come on one by one and practise stylised ballet exercises at the barre, before abandoning it for the freedom of the empty stage. Soon they are dancing together, egging each other on with virtuoso steps and jumps, Peck’s vertiginous speed and control hard to comprehend.
American dancers have unique attack and sharpness of movement and that, combined with their vitality, makes this a breathtaking finale to an exciting and enjoyable programme .
|Turn It Out with Tiler Peck and Friends review
|Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP
09 Mar 23 – 11 Mar 23, 19:30 Dur.: 1 hour 40 mins inc two pauses and one interval
|£15-£85 (+booking fee)
|Click here to book