Friday, 23 September 2011

THE STAGE: National Dance Company Wales Autumn Tour Review

National Dance Company Wales Autumn Tour
Published Friday 23 September 2011 at 17:58 by Susie Wild

National Dance Company Wales’ Autumn Tour brings together the best of its trademark energy, individuality and inimitable style.
Split into three sections, the first uneven piece Quixoteland is a contemporary interpretation of the classic Don Quixote story. Choreographer Gustavo Ramirez Sansano brings Cervantes’ story alive with imaginative verve and quirky black humour. He uses the Minkus music from the original 1869 Don Quixote ballet and yet modernises the age old love story with swift, entertaining movement that doesn’t quite keep momentum. The set of 20ft high silver lances becomes the perfect backdrop for a clowning Cupid (Eran Gisen) to spread his magic and mischief, and later closes in to become cages for the two lovers and their dynamic duet.

After the interval, the second and most inventive piece Phantoms of Us lays things bare, quite literally, as the semi-naked dancers rhythmically move between the figurative solos and impassioned ensembles of one of the company’s own dancers. Eleesha Drennan’s compelling choreography combines well with a frisky jazz soundtrack and the bold, provocative projections of naked torsos from Welsh artist Sue Williams.

The finale choreographed by world great Ohad Naharin, is in two, gender-divided parts performed against Ravel’s well known score. The first Bolero is an electric female duet between show-stealer Annabeth Berkeley and an intense Neus Gil Cortes. The dynamic pair create a vital attack on the senses, the crescendo building into the tribal all-male Black Milk. Naharin strips back dance to its basic elements, avoiding extravagant sets and costumes. It is a risky philosophy, yet these international dancers speak Naharin’s language fluently and poetically and do the evening’s most challenging piece good service.

Certainly, with this final piece, National Dance Company Wales is living up to the high calibre statement of its recent name change.

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