Originally published on LondonTheatre1
Sadler’s Wells’ dance taster festival returns for two nights only, giving audiences a chance to experience a sample of the upcoming season. From contemporary dance to b-boying, it’s an opportunity to see a sprinkling of the best dance talent around, and there really is something for everyone. Sadler’s Wells is always buzzing on a show night, but this weekend it is more than ever, with live demonstrations of an ‘A-Z of dance’ in the foyer.
Kicking off the programme is Company Wayne McGregor, performing an extract from their namesake choreographer’s 2010 work Outlier. The work was originally choreographed on the New York City Ballet, and it’s interesting to see contemporary dancers now performing it – the balletic element is obvious, but the dancers’ beautiful fluidity is far from the structured forms of classical ballet. Showcasing three segments from the show, it’s a spellbinding, intricate work with layerings of music and movement that at times have your eyes flitting from one side of the stage to the other, trying to catch the details of every dancer at once. A duet between Travis Clausen-Knight and Daniela Neugebauer stands out for gorgeous lines and liquid-like fluidity, but the whole company excel and prove a strong start to this eclectic evening.
Both the runner-up and winner of the BBC Young Dancer feature; the former, Vidya Patel, presents ‘Khoj – The Search’, a dynamic performance that was my first experience of watching kathak dance. Yet Connor Scott, winner of the competition, seems under-served by his piece. ‘Get Up’ intends to present a message about turning your back on social media and living in the real world, yet it feels as if Scott has been given this theme simply because he is young, and therefore it’s ‘relevant’. The piece itself feels cut short before it’s got going, and while Scott is no doubt a talented dancer, this performance falls very short of showcasing his talents effectively.
Due to injury, Northern Ballet were unfortunately unable to perform; however, this meant audiences were treated to the unexpected delight of ‘The Dying Swan’, performed by Zenaida Yanowsky, principal of the Royal Ballet. Presenting probably the most famous ballet solo in history, Yanowsky transfixed the audience with her beautiful, delicate performance to Camille Saint-Saens’ instantly recognisable score – a magical moment. Demonstrating the broad eclecticism of the evening, we are soon watching a Dutch b-boy crew – The Ruggeds – who shift the atmosphere of the room instantly. The theatre seems to shake with the pulsating bass, and the crew’s incredible tricks are a hit with the audience. Yet as a whole routine, ‘Adrenaline’ begins to drag and the ensemble choreography in between the individual tricks fails to light up the stage in the same way. It’s a fun taster, but I wouldn’t be tempted to see the whole show, as is partly the point of this evening’s showcase.
Undoubtedly stealing the show, however, are tango dancers Julia Hiriart Urruty and Claudio Gonzalez. Having wowed with two routines in Act I, they return after the interval with extracts from Decades Tangueras, which showcases the dance form’s development over time. Their sizzling chemistry, exciting lifts and beautiful lines create an engrossing performance that certainly inspires and engages the enthusiastic audience.
Sadler’s Sampled is an unbeatable way to see so many different styles of dance in one night. Videos interspersing the pieces give an insight into their creation and their performers, and the mood of the evening is one of both mutual respect and excitement at the talent that this venue continues to draw. With all tickets a maximum of £15, it’s a must for dance fans and a brilliant way for newcomers to get into the art form.
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