Thursday 5th February 2015
Sadler's Wells Associate Artists are central to the artistic direction and vision of the theatre, marking it as the leading venue in Britain for dance. Associate Artists have the opportunity to collaborate with other choreographers and artists to develop ideas for large-scale works. The
triple bill produced tonight by Sadler’s Wells director Alastair Spalding
presented three choreographers in the midst of choreographic changes. However, a clear gulf is apparent between Crystal Pite’s mysterious An
Image Of You Falling and Kate Prince and Hofesh Shechter’s pieces, which
felt limp and clumsy.
Directed by Prince, SMILE opened
the evening with a seemingly light-hearted exploration of the ‘dark
side’ of Charlie Chapin’s showman smile. Ridden with repetition and
bland clichés of sad clowns, SMILE does little justice to dancer Tommy
Franzén’s exceptional technical and performance abilities. The narrative
drifts aimlessly through images of overt showmanship to deeply rooted
sadness, without consideration for the reality of Chaplin’s complex
Additionally, Shechter’s The Barbarians In
Love stumbled through its transitions from tight baroque score to
Shechter’s contrastingly loose physicality, as the dancers stomped
around the stage like beasts. But somewhere in between the clean ballet
lines and weighted contemporary movement, the work loses its way.
Shechter seems to make an attempt at postmodernism, using a cold female
voice to narrate what appears to be a rather intimate therapy session.
The woman repeatedly asks Shechter: ‘what do you want Hofesh?’,
culminating in Shechter’s frank confession of a mid-life crisis and
marital infidelity. His words cut through the built up tension, leaving
little for the remainder of the work.
Finally, Pite’s An
Image Of You Falling, second in the program was a much-needed relief.
Pite’s choreography glides through dark fragmented images of the
disturbed relationship between a man and a woman, danced by Peter Chu
and Annie Plamondon; from the moment they met to their violent end.
Another cold female voice repetitively narrates the piece; ‘this is where
it began’, ‘this is the sound of your heart hitting the floor’, ‘this
is the room where it happened… a bed, a table, a lamp, no curtains’.
Pite’s use of second person is particularly discomforting and emphasises
the eerie tone well. The dancers move soundlessly around
each other, only making contact towards the end of the work. Their limbs
intimately linger, slide and wrap around each other. In the background the sound of machinery, wind and passing
cars fills the moments of silence. Was it a car accident that brought
the couple to their violent end? Or was it a domestic dispute, as
alluded to by the movement?
Pite remains the clear winner
in tonight’s triple bill. Of all three choreographers, Pite has total
control over her choreography and the direction that it takes. Whereas
Shechter and Prince’s choreography felt incomplete and considerably blander.