'Small Hands (Out of the Lie of No)'

by Cassandra

October 15, 2003 -- Sadler's Wells/London


Rosas transformed Sadlers Wells into an arena last night for an in-the-round performance. Choreographer Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker and Cynthia Loemij made their entrance by running through the empty upper levels of the theatre and dashing into the performance space clutching the skirts of their voluminous period costumes which they quickly discarded along with their incongruous red trainers leaving them in thin white shifts.

“Small Hands (out of the lie of no)” is an hour-long duet danced to highly attractive music by Purcell, though unfortunately distorted through the Sadlers Wells sound system. The two women manage to fill the dancing space with the diversity of their sometimes-simplistic movement – just running very fast or skipping happily in time to the music. This is punctuated by periods of silence, almost of reflection, with the dancers becoming more aware of the audience that surrounds them on all sides. And the audience becomes aware of the audience too, because as we watch the dancers we are compelled to observe the variety of our fellow dance fans; the elegantly dressed woman next to the scruffy student next to the man fresh from his office in a business suit, but all watching the dancers with the same intent expressions regardless of their apparent diversity.

The bursts of energy are contrasted with quieter moments. The women dance in unison and apart and as the work progresses and their flimsy garments become more transparent with perspiration one becomes more aware of their very beautiful naked bodies whirling past in such close proximity. During the performance several of the lamps hanging above the stage had slowly descended to the ground and one had come down with an almighty crash - a metaphor for the passing of time? Near the end of the work neon tubes under the seats started to flash randomly between the legs of the spectators enforcing the feeling of audience as backdrop.

Finally the women take off their shifts and, casually indifferent to their nudity, they don more modern attire before briefly resuming their dancing. As with so much of de Keersmaeker’s work you came away with the feeling of having witnessed a real tour de force.


Edited by Stuart Sweeney

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