Sunday, 22 November 2015

REVIEW: Sasha Waltz & Guests 'Sacre' - 'a storm of fog, grit and earthy tones'

Sasha Waltz & Guests
Sadler's Wells
Friday 13th November 2015

Sasha Waltz is one of Germany's most current choreographers. Experimenting with the boundary between dance and opera, it comes as no surprise that Waltz has taken on Stravinsky's masterpiece in this triple bill. Interestingly, gender seems to be a common theme that threads through L'Après Midi d'un Faune, Scène d'Amour, and Sacre. Men and women are both divided and united throughout the works.

L'Après Midi d'un Faune is a surprisingly colourful affair, with bright patterned leotards and backdrop. The tone is lazy and seductive- heads roll back, lips part, knees are pushed apart and backs arch as Debussy's score rises and falls. Both men and women are just as responsible for one another's pleasure. Yet, aside from the sensuality of the work, the choreography seems somewhat aimless.

Scène d'Amour, an excerpt from Waltz's Roméo et Juliette is exquisite. Both Lorena Justribó Manion and Ygal Tsur defy gravity even when rolling on the floor together. The mood is light and romantic- the couple are blissful. Manion moves effortlessly, darting about the space and slipping seamlessly between Tsur's acrobatic lifts and Waltz's phrases of unison.

Finally, the grand finale of the evening does not disappoint. Sacre is a storm of fog, grit and earthy tones. The stage opens eerily, smoke filled and dark. A large crowd gathers, staring at an enormous pile of ash and gravel at the centre of the stage. Waltz constructs something almost hellish. The dancers are violent and primal, driven by Stravinsky's pounding score. The limp bodies of women litter the stage, as the men charge through, again highlighting the boundaries between genders.

In fact, Waltz toys with gender role reversal- a woman lurches forward, clasping her hands around the struggling body of a man. Will he become the sacrifice? But Waltz only flirts with the idea, before plunging the dancers into a throbbing sultry mass. Clothes are torn away from bodies, skin rubs against skin, and suddenly the dancers’ breathlessness turns to lust.

Finally, as Stravinsky's score intensifies, Sacre begins to reach its final climax. Maria Marta Colusi strips naked for Waltz's conclusion, her muscular body shudders with exhaustion. While all three works are striking, Waltz's exposition of sex and death in Sacre is truly stunning.