Sonata,1,V,' ' Mesmerics,' ' Non Exuent,'
' Critical Mass'
September 24, 2003
-- Sadler's Wells, London
George Piper Dances has become
a very popular group that certainly deserves an enthusiastic following.
Of course a stint on TV hasn’t harmed an already high profile and they
appear to go from strength to strength.
They opened last night at Sadler’s Wells starting the evening with William
Forsythe’s pretentiously titled “Approximate Sonata,1,V.” It opened with
William Trevitt moving slowly forward and grinning at the audience, opening
his mouth wide in what appeared a fly catching exercise, vaguely miming
to the vocal of a crowded musical montage interspersed with shouted instructions,
presumably from the choreographer. He was eventually joined by Oxana Panchenko
for some rather expressionless partial double work, but the piece dissolved
into the end of what appeared to be a rehearsal, just a work in progress
it seemed. An odd concept.
Trevitt and Nunn are well known for their video diaries and in each half
of the programme the ballets were separated by their amateur filming.
We see them journeying first to Frankfurt to see Forsythe, and, then –
more rewardingly, I can’t help thinking – to New York to link up with
Christopher Wheeldon. For some reason I couldn’t quite grasp, we were
also shown scenes of Trevitt frolicking in his bath, treating us to the
admittedly impressive sight of his glistening torso. He handled his towel
somewhat teasingly, I must report.
The second work was “Mesmerics” by Christopher Wheeldon, a magnificent
piece for all five members of the company. This was originally seen as
a trio but has now been expanded, tailored no doubt, to the unique qualities
of this group. Wheeldon’s ingenuity in creating beautiful images impresses
me more acutely with every new work of his I see. He has a wonderful instinct
for music, and in this ballet to chamber music by Philip Glass the steps
become an added dimension to the music. Totally abstract, the dancers
interact in almost random ways, contacting, dissolving and reforming into
those ingenious groups and sensuous poses that are so much a hallmark
of this choreographer’s output. I don’t hesitate to recommend this as
the first must-see ballet of the season.
The second half of the programme began with Cathy Marston’s “Non Exuent”.
A work for the two female company members, Panchenko and Zamora (the Ballet
Girlz?) Before the start of this work we heard the voice of Marston herself
telling us how the work was inspired by two Shakespearian female characters,
Lady Macbeth and Ophelia. From what Ms. Marston had to say about them
it was very clear that her understanding of Shakespeare was limited: “She’s
got it completely wrong!” I heard from the woman sitting next to me under
her breath. I won’t disagree. Between two lines of light bulbs and wearing
short clinging dresses, Lady M. wrings her hands and Ophelia wallows in
an imaginary pool but sadly it doesn’t add up to much.
Before the final work of the evening we get more of the video diaries
showing us a little of the rigours of touring as Trevitt and Nunn prepare
to perform at provincial theatres up and down the country, often getting
lost on the way or turning up at the wrong venues. These two have a gift
for humour and for getting a laugh out of the most mundane situations.
Finally we saw Russell Maliphant’s “Critical Mass”, that ever-popular
duet seemingly danced part in fun and part in anger. With pile driving
aggressive accompaniment interrupted by a middle section of cha cha rhythms.
Nunn and Trevitt dance both with and against one another, even indulging
in a slow motion punch-up. It’s a great ending to the show guaranteeing
that the punters go home in a good mood and the performers presumably
collapse in a heap from sheer exhaustion.
Edited by Jeff.
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