But what splendour. A technical spectacular, it’s the fruit of collaboration between Wayne McGregor, Olafur Eliasson, artist behind the 2003 Weather Project at Tate Modern, and Jamie xx, composer and third leg of The XX. These are all names with cachet, and the production cashed in on their cool to deliver a production so slick it conjured ovations from the audience.
McGregor is a choreographer all about process, and while the inspiration is usually in the bones of the work you can rarely see it in its face. McGregor’s source here is Tree of Codes by Jonathan Safran Foer, an artwork/novel in which the author meticulously sliced out words from his own inspiration, Bruno Schulz’s 1934 Street of Crocodiles, to create a new work.
Such obsession with process might be joy to McGregor, but it’s most visible onstage in Eliasson’s visual concept. The space is spliced through with mirrors and transparent shapes that turn and shift. The dancers are shattered and replicated as though through stained glass, mirrored so many times it’s hard to know if you’re watching being or reflection.
It’s intensely cerebral choreography. We open in pitch black, the dancers bodies scattered with tiny white lights that constellate on the stage. Then clouds of colour flood over dance that happens in pieces, twos and threes drilling relentlessly into the ground.
The dancers of Company Wayne McGregor are powerful beasts, but there’s extra pleasure as they are joined by six dancers from the Paris Opera Ballet. Jérémie Bélingard stands out even amongst McGregor’s stunning athletes, but rarest of all treats is the mighty étoile Marie-Agnès Gillot. With the long and rangy body of a cheetah she commands the stage.
Mercury Prize winner Jamie xx has gone to town, the score a rushing mélange of swooping strings, percussive beats, electro and house. There were complaints from some critics of too little chemistry between movement and music, and while Jamie xx holds the emotional reins of the piece, the dance pays little heed to its directions.
It’s necessary to prepare your expectations for Tree of Codes. Leave your desires for emotional revelation and story-telling at home. But for a barrage of relentless innovation, for talent in a pure and diamond-hard form, we suspect this is unmissable.
|What||Wayne McGregor: Tree of Codes, Sadler’s Wells|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
04 Mar 17 – 11 Mar 17, at 4pm on Sunday 5
|Website||Click here to book via Sadler's Wells|