Le Patin Libre, Vertical

Posted: January 15th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Performance | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Le Patin Libre, Vertical

Le Patin Libre, Vertical, Somerset House, January 13, jointly presented by Dance Umbrella and Somerset House

A Dance Umbrella Commission in partnership with National Arts Centre, Canada and Theatre de la Ville, Paris. Research supported by Jerwood Studio at Sadler’s Wells and Dance Umbrella

Le Patin Libre at Somerset House (photo: Alicia Clarke)

Le Patin Libre at Somerset House (photo: Alicia Clarke)

When I first saw Le Patin Libre at Alexandra Palace in Dance Umbrella’s 2014 festival I arrived late and saw only the latter part of their first half, Influences. The second half was Vertical which is the work Dance Umbrella has brought back to London for a limited run on the skating rink in its front yard at Somerset House. Renegade skaters, cutting edge ice dance performance runs the publicity with a smile. Watch the award-winning Le Patin Libre (they won the Total Theatre & The Place Award for Dance at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2015) carve the ice, with their signature blend of technical skill and cutting edge style (at the Quebec Delegation reception Emma Gladstone added that the group had also a strain of bloody-mindedness for forging ahead with their project despite criticism and jeering from hockey players and ice dancers at home in Montreal). Their mix of intricate footwork, wit, speed and grace pushes the boundaries of what is physically possible and carries ice-skating performance into the 21st century. There’s certainly some disambiguation to be done to separate the skating of Le Patin Libre from other forms of dancing on ice. Translating the company name — free skating — is true to its origins but doesn’t do justice to the artistic endeavor of the group and ‘artistic free skating’ sounds like an Olympic category. So until some apt description can be found the only way to know what it is they do is to see them perform. They have some work to do as well; while all five (Alexandre Hamel, Taylor Dilley, Jasmin Boivin, Pascale Jodoin and Samory Ba) dress casually (no glitter to be seen) and take care to present their work without the trappings of figure skating, they are not averse to feats of skating virtuosity, as if to reassure us they are former professional skaters. They don’t need to. The articulated solo by Ba, Jodoin’s sensuous spirals and the long, sweeping, swooping, interweaving patterns of the quintet up and down the ice are what mark the originality of Le Patin Libre: understated artistry that could not be achieved without their level of skill.

It’s not just the ice but the space that Le Patin Libre transforms with their art. Seeing what they did at Alexandra Palace was a revelation of sheer volume; at Somerset House the space is, paradoxically for an open-air rink, constrained, perhaps by the monumentality of Sir William Chambers‘ neoclassical architecture with its ice-sugary lighting in shades of blue and pink. By comparison with the performance at Alexandra Palace, Vertical at Somerset House seems more of a sampler, welcome nonetheless and well worth seeing, but not fully representative of what this quintet can do. Their ideas need the freedom and distance of the largest indoor rinks because their lines and speed and dynamics — like a flock of long-legged birds in formation — can best be appreciated on that scale. Although the development of the group originated on outdoor rinks in Montreal, the performers feel more at home navigating at high speed the vast indoor spaces of skating rinks where the theatrical effects (here by Lucy Carter) of lighting and haze, moreover, are not subject to the vagaries of outdoor weather.

Inserted like an unofficial preview into the opening of Vertical (as Alexandre Hamel told me after the performance) are some ideas the company is developing for a new show which hint at a form of minimalism, enhancing the geometry of patterns with the glistening lines of the skaters’ trajectories to expand our sense of space and time. While Vertical and Influences have gone a long way towards creating a new spatial dynamic of dance, this new work has the opportunity to consolidate the form. Perhaps by then it will have a name.

There are eight more performances of Vertical at Somerset House on Friday January 14 at 18h30 and 20h00 and on Saturday and Sunday January 15 & 16 at 18h30, 20h00 and 21h30.

Théâtre de la Ville will be presenting Le Patin Libre in Vertical Influences at the Patinoire de Bercy in Paris from 14 to 17 June.


The Royal Ballet: Woolf Works

Posted: May 15th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Performance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Royal Ballet: Woolf Works

The Royal Ballet, Woolf Works, Royal Opera House, May 13

Federico Bonelli and Alessandra Ferri in Wayne McGregor's Woolf Works (photo: Tristram Kenton)

Federico Bonelli and Alessandra Ferri in Wayne McGregor’s Woolf Works (photo: Tristram Kenton)

Anyone who knows Wayne McGregor’s work to date would be hard pressed to guess he is the choreographer of the first act of Woolf Works, infused with literary weight and embodied in the lithe, tragic figure of Alessandra Ferri as Virginia Woolf. The act dances like a story; characters enter and leave through giant wooden frames that revolve slowly as they wait to be filled with or emptied of portraits from the past: lovers, her husband, and a soldier killed in the First World War. By her presence alone, it seems, Ferri holds McGregor’s hand and gently traces her movements. Her quality has a stillness that is foreign to the choreographer but he has made this work with her in mind and appears to follow her lead whenever she is on stage. In an interview with Sarah Crompton, Ferri, who returns to the Royal Opera House stage at the age of 52, puts her finger gently but firmly on the phenomenon we are seeing: “You have baggage which a young dancer cannot have because it comes with experience in life and on stage. I feel I am refined to the essential. Companies now, the world over, are very young. When I grew up here in this Company we had dancers like Antoinette Sibley and Merle Park who had a lot of experience. Michael Somes was still here. They had theatrical weight. Now, because the repertory requires these 20-year-old bodies, companies are very young and I think there is a link missing.’ She fills that gap; when she is alone, as she turns in on herself with soft, beguiling spirals, she is at her most expressive. As soon as the men begin to partner her — Federico Bonelli as her young lover or Gary Avis as her husband Leonard — McGregor’s choreography does not maintain those qualities and like a flower that is inexpertly pruned she withdraws from being Woolf to being manipulated. In her sapphic relations with the playful Francesca Hayward and Beatriz Stix-Brunell she is more at ease; women in McGregor’s universe know how to relate to each other.

Max Richter’s score is at its most refined in the first act, flowing like memories and ticking like time. The literary nature infects the scenic elements, too, not in its linear narrative but in the painting of inner emotions and thoughts, the stream of consciousness for which Woolf’s output was celebrated. Lucy Carter moulds Ferri and her lovers in an almost palpable emotion of light and haze and Ciguë’s frames change the perspective of now and then with a simplicity that belies — or because of — their scale. However, the panorama of Woolf’s garden at Monk’s House that is projected through the frames onto the backdrop takes us into the realm of an exhibition (for which much of the program resembles the catalogue).

Woolf Works is called a triptych because it joins three scenes from three of Woolf’s novels like an altarpiece of her life. The first, I Now, I Then is based on Mrs Dalloway, the second, Becomings, on Orlando and the third, Tuesday, on The Waves. Apart from Watson’s histrionics as a shell-shocked soldier, the fragile sensibility of I Now, I Then gives way to an excuse for McGregor’s standard overextended vocabulary in the time-travelling, shape-shifting central depiction of Becomings. Needless to say Ferri is nowhere to be seen, replaced by a willowy Natalia Osipova who, despite the choreographic desecration of the Woolf altar, makes an extraordinary statement of hyperextended sensuality. Around her is a chaos of couples and brutish couplings (McGregor has not mastered the idea of partnering) racing across a black reflective floor in exotic costumes of the centuries (by Moritz Junge) like figures by Hieronymous Bosch on ecstasy. It looks as if the choreographer has thrown everything he can into Becomings that the presence of Ferri elsewhere would not permit. It is also an occasion for a high-quality light show unleashed by both Carter’s ingenuity and the Opera House’s resources. The function of lighting is traditionally to illuminate the dancers but the level of production here puts lighting on a choreographic level.

The final panel, as Ravi Deepres’ slow motion film of waves suggests rather redundantly, is from The Waves. Ferri is the central character again so McGregor is on his best behaviour, or almost. This is the scene where Woolf ends her life (she drowned herself in 1941 by walking into the river Ouse weighted down by stones in her pockets). The panel opens with a reading by Gillian Anderson of Woolf’s final letter to Leonard, a scene that doesn’t immediately suggest Ferri being partnered by a semi-naked Bonelli; it is an interaction that interferes with her lonely, tragic state of mind. There are children who rise on a lift at the back underneath the waves and play games on the shore with rope. They are the children of Woolf’s sister Vanessa Bell (though this is only evident if you read the program) in the form of Sarah Lamb. Ferri sits contemplating, then turns to watch her sister and nieces playing. She gathers her shawl and wanders slowly around the stage while other characters rise on the lift as if arriving on a platform at rush hour to surge on to the stage. McGregor revels in choreographic distraction so it takes concentration to follow Ferri as she keeps her meditative pace around the stage until she arrives in front of the crowd, facing them. Then she is inextricably upended by assorted men and passed between them as if her final parting were a social event. In The Waves she writes about death as ‘active, positive like all the rest, exciting; and of great importance — as an experience. The one experience I shall never describe.’ The choreography fails to take up the challenge. The projected waves gather velocity, the chorus retreats and Bonelli is left to drag Ferri’s dry body to its resting place.

When the curtain rises Ferri is alone on stage to receive the applause; it is apt, not only out of respect for the artist she is, but because she is the saviour of Woolf, not only of the Works but of the woman.

 


Le Patin Libre: Vertical Influences

Posted: November 11th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Performance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Le Patin Libre: Vertical Influences

Le Patin Libre, Vertical Influences, Dance Umbrella, Alexandra Palace Ice Rink, October 29

Le Patin Libre (photo: Rolline Laporte)

Le Patin Libre (photo: Rolline Laporte)

Two hours drive from Teddington should get you well out of London but on this particular Thursday it only got me to Alexandra Palace 15 minutes after the performance of Le Patin Libre started but as some kind soul who was wheeling his fold-up bike on his way to see the Hugging Guru in another part of Alexandra Palace told me, the time you arrive is precisely the time you should arrive. Notwithstanding the wisdom of his statement, I would have liked to see the beginning of Le Patin Libre’s Vertical Influences because what I saw subsequently was such a revelation.

Here you are on the ringside of this vast arena watching six skaters tracing lines in the ice like exuberant explorers, pushing space in front of them and pulling it behind them like a flock of birds. There is still a sense of the proscenium theatre because we are seated in a cosy rectangle on one side of the rink and the performers play towards us. But otherwise the dynamics of the conventional theatre are blown away by the sheer volume of this space, and also by the dance form. The origins of Le Patin Libre began on the frozen lakes and outdoor rinks of Montreal where ice underlies the national temperament. Every local park in winter has its seasonally constructed ice rink dedicated for the most part to hockey but also to free skating (patin libre). The photograph on the front of Dance Umbrella’s printed program gives you the idea. All but one of the members of Le Patin Libre took to the ice as naturally as we might learn to dribble a ball in the back yard. They then developed their skills in figure-skating competition but found the creative side limited. Alexandre Hamel got together a small group to develop a choreographic form on ice, and the rest, as they say, is icestory.

Back to Alexandra Palace where the skaters are like free spirits in autumn colours (courtesy of Jenn Pocobene) stamping out rhythms on the ice and swooping around the rink chasing each other, Hamel in an orange shirt darting in an out of the group. I am reminded of Paul Klee’s description of his doodle sketches as ‘taking his pencil for a walk’. Taylor Dilley doodles on one leg for long, slow stretches, but for the most part the skaters take their entire shape around the ice at high speed, skating with ballet bravura without having to compete for points. All six skaters have characters that brim with confidence without ever getting haughty about their skills or precious about their choreography; they have removed themselves from the trappings of figure skating and simply dance on ice, drawing the audience into their performance with endearing modesty. Perhaps it’s because I lived in Montreal for so long that the performance touches me deeply, but I felt at Alexandra Palace that I was not alone.

By taking the sport and artistic competition out of skating, Le Patin Libre presents a new dynamic of dance, one that allows shapes to glide and swoop and turn at dizzying speeds. And because the performers need so much space to move, the dance venue has expanded to heroic stature. Alexandra Palace is not exactly beautiful but tracking these dancers as they course around its rink is exhilarating. It is as if our senses grow into the new volume, enlarging our perceptions and expectations. Perhaps this is what Edward Gordon Craig had in mind when he wrote about his vision of theatre having heroic stature. There is much to explore in this new form and it is an inspired co-commission by Dance Umbrella.

After the interval, the ‘front’ has changed from the side to one end of the rink where we are seated on benches on a covered section of the ice. The skaters enter from the furthest point from the audience gliding endlessly towards us in Lucy Carter’s brilliant backlight until they turn effortlessly at the very last, impossible moment to regroup in the distance. In between these long patterns that resemble cloverleaf motorway intersections, the skaters introduce their individual skills in a narrow band of light across the front of the ice. Coming forward again, they stop suddenly in the silence of snow. Jasmin Boivin, doubling as the composer for the group, smiles a wicked smile in front while the others weave down the ice in S-curves and in beautiful counterpoint Boivin skates up the ice as the others race down towards him, splitting around him like water round a pebble. There are quartets, a lovely turning solo by Pascale Jodoin and a superbly articulated riff by Samory Ba with his elongated body in shirt and orange pants that has the syncopated, ice-tapping rhythms of free improvisation. The others join for more gliding patterns at speed, their camaraderie as palpable as their joy of movement.

Driving home was a breeze.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Shobana Jeyasingh Dance: Strange Blooms & Configurations

Posted: December 23rd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Performance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Shobana Jeyasingh Dance: Strange Blooms & Configurations

Shobana Jeyasingh Dance, Strange Blooms & Configurations, Queen Elizabeth Hall, December 3

Noora Kela in Strange Blooms (photo: Chris Nash)

Noora Kela in Strange Blooms (photo: Chris Nash)

This review was commissioned by Pulse Magazine and first appeared online at www.pulseconnects.com. It was subsequently published in the Winter issue of the magazine. It is reproduced here with the kind permission of the editor. 

It is no coincidence that Shobana Jeyasingh chose the biology of plants to underpin the twenty-fifth anniversary of her choreographic debut and the birth of her company. The program at Queen Elizabeth Hall included her first work, Configurations, as well as the world première of Strange Blooms. If the latter is the flowering of her artistic development, her bold collaboration with Michael Nyman in 1988 that became Configurations illustrates the clarity of the process by which she achieved it. Dylan Thomas used the metaphor of a ‘force that through the green fuse drives the flower’, and there is a very real sense in both works of Jeyasingh’s rich, fertile imagination driving the creative process towards fulfillment. Her initial use of the traditional bharatanatyam dance form has broadened – she spoke candidly in the question and answer session following the performance about feeling ‘over-defined at the beginning by race and culture’ – but she remains focused on generating meaning in dance without recourse to stories. Her materials are space, time and the bodies of her dancers; her process is one of consummate design.

The members of the Benyounes Quartet sit patiently in the shadows before the start of Configurations. They will be playing Nyman’s String Quartet No. 2 which itself is based on a rhythmic score in six sections that Jeyasingh had prepared as a brief for the composer. Such close artistic collaboration is key to the unity of purpose in each work. Lucy Carter’s lighting design projects a series of rectangles on to the floor that change pattern in rhythm with the music and create pathways for the four arching, spiraling dancers whose steps are so precisely choreographed to the music that they are as much human instruments as they are indefatigable interpreters. Two years ago Jeyasingh reworked the choreography. ‘I wanted to say the same thing but find a simpler way to say it.’ It is this economy of means and her painterly use of space that give the music such a rich visual quality that is further enhanced by Ursula Bombshell’s costumes in reds and orange. The dancers never falter as they carry the lyrical forms, beauty, patterns and colour – even a moment of deadpan humour – through to the work’s conclusion.

A similar organic line is at work in Strange Blooms, not only as the basis of its design but in the subject matter itself. It is organized in four sections based on different aspects of plant biology: the first on the way tendrils curl and swirl in their frenzied search for support; the second on the algorithms of branching; the third on cellular instabilities within plants that help them to move, and the fourth about hybridity or cross breeding. From the very first moment these eight strange blooms unfold before our eyes as if we are looking through a microscope or at a time-lapse film, with Guy Hoare’s patterns of light reminiscent of Rothko in fauve colours suffusing the choreographic development. Graphic projections are not easy to get right in a dance context, but Jan Urbanowski’s laser-like etchings of plant forms play beautifully on the dancers’ bodies while Fabrice Serafino’s costumes subtly harmonise gender and reveal the dance. One can still see the low plié of bharatanatyam but the dance vocabulary belongs more with the urgency of natural forms than with any particular style.

If Strange Blooms reveals the hidden life of plants, Gabriel Prokofiev’s score simulates the process in music. By dissecting a recording by Jane Chapman of Louis Couperin’s harpsichord piece, Chaconne la Complaignante, Prokofiev lays bare its mysterious internal processes before putting it all back together again in pristine form. Like the design of Strange Blooms, it is a remarkable journey that reminds us of the richness hidden in the depths of life. As Jeyasingh says, ‘Choreography is a way of revealing what is already there.’


Wayne McGregor⎪Random Dance: Atomos

Posted: December 23rd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Performance | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Wayne McGregor⎪ Random Dance, Atomos, Brighton Dome, November 8

Atomos: photo Rick Guest with Olivia Pomp

Atomos: photo Rick Guest with Olivia Pomp

I wonder — and this is just a hunch — if choreographers who are elevated to a position of high visibility very soon in their careers have a problem managing expectation; if, in the absence of anything new to say, they tend to fall back on what was initially successful. By ‘anything new to say’ I mean anything new to say through the work rather than about it. Wayne McGregor is certainly not short of words when it comes to talking about his work, but I feel he falls into the category of having little new to say through his work, and thus the impact of his most recent choreography has much the same effect as his last, whether you love it or are bored by it.

What you can expect in a work of McGregor is first and foremost a packaging that is lit beautifully (usually by Lucy Carter), is dressed by someone on the cutting edge of fashion, has state of the art projections, presents a voguish contemporary score and is performed by beautifully edgy dancers with plastic (one might say elastic) qualities — whether McGregor is dipping into the willing side of The Royal Ballet  (where he is resident choreographer) or into his own company. Apart from the physical aspect, one is inevitably caught up in the intellectual side of his work; the printed program tends to read like a parallel universe of research in cognitive science that reveals McGregor’s curiosity as well as his intelligence and seems designed to link these qualities to the choreography — which is an illusion, for the link is only to the research. I think what we see in a McGregor work is the result of his absorption in his research rather than the fruit of his imagination, which explains perhaps the lack of empathy — communication with an audience. McGregor might well say he never intended it to be there.

His latest research-laden work, Atomos, continues the trend. The essay in the printed program by social anthropologist James Leach, under the heading What is a body? makes you wonder if you will understand anything at all, but on a closer reading the text runs alongside the work without ever touching. “We feel bodies. They have presence. Their stance, position, intention, emotion, desire, reach, shame, passion, expansion and contraction are recognisable and compelling because this movement, this life, is already part of the common shared space. The only way the self is known and experienced is with others, as presences or absences. The material that the company creates has this quality.” But doesn’t all dance have this quality? He finishes with, “McGregor insists the body is fascinating. He insists it is intelligent. It thinks, solves, makes and creates. He strives to recognize and organise this intelligence — an intelligence that is in and between the dancers, emergent from the relation not the individual. His work both reveals and challenges our sense of what it is to be a human with others, a body that is always there in its concern with, constitution by, and presence among our own and other kinds. Thinking is also movement.” You read that, you see the show and you say to yourself, that was really intelligent. Or you say, with much trepidation, what was all that about? I once heard an audience member ask McGregor in a post-show talk following Far what the work was about. “What do you think the work is about?” came the immediate retort.

Atomos is a fairly typical McGregor thoroughbred: choreographed on his own dancers, lit by Carter, costumed by the fashion and technology duo Studio XO, scored by A Winged Victory For The Sullen and with projections by Ravi Deepres, it has a sexy array of techno packaging, including the option of 3D viewing. It turns out the glasses are needed only for the projections, not for the dancers. So when the five screens eventually slot into place, we don the glasses to see a pink square traveling through the dark auditorium towards us. Is this a distraction to the choreography? Not according to McGregor, who apparently responded to one of his dancers that it is only a distraction if you think the dance is the only thing. Is McGregor having so much fun with his collaborative team that he has turned his back on his audience? At a Hay Festival event this year, the ‘legendary’ McGregor was scheduled to be interviewed by Sarah Crompton with Audrey Niffenegger, author of Raven Girl that McGregor had just adapted for the Royal Ballet. He didn’t show up. Dance is of small but growing interest in the world of literary festivals and his presence would have helped the momentum. Crompton made no comment on his absence but a Royal Ballet aficionado in the audience had come to hear McGregor and wondered out loud where he was. The two women looked at each other sheepishly, apologised and Niffenegger added, “To the best of my knowledge Wayne is madly at work.”

McGregor’s research into the nature of movement may well be useful, even groundbreaking, but for whom? Atomos was created with the help of an ‘artificiallly intelligent, life size, digitally rendered “body”’ in the studio, in effect another dancer provoking new movement creation through technology. It begs the question of what is feeding into the system. What if it responds in kind to a poverty of choreographic input?

With much contemporary choreography in which ideas are pulled from observation or study of the natural world, it is illuminating to glimpse the processes the choreographer uses to arrive at the final product we see on stage. But interesting research does not in itself equate to stimulating choreographic work. In the pushing of boundaries originality can be lost.

 


Made at Sadler’s Wells

Posted: June 27th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Performance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Made at Sadler’s Wells

 

Made at Sadler’s Wells, Sadler’s Sampled Festival, Sadler’s Wells, June 22

The Sadler’s Sampled festival is a welcome initiative by Sadler’s Wells to popularize dance that brings the concept of the BBC Proms to the theatre and adds a raft of programmed events in and around the foyer that ‘will provide a way in for audiences who many not be familiar with dance of any kind.’ There are four separate programs of dance over the two-week festival (ending July 7) beginning with Made at Sadler’s Wells that highlights three works the theatre has produced since 2005.

Russell Maliphant’s Afterlight (Part One) is all about the play between the dynamism of form in the choreography and the deconstruction of mass in the lighting and it takes a dancer who has the plasticity and precision to carve lines and shapes in space. I had the pleasure of seeing Daniel Proietto dance Afterlight (Part One) in 2010 and it was an extraordinary performance (his photograph appears in the program although Thomasin Gulgeç is on stage). For Made at Sadler’s Wells it is essentially the same work but it doesn’t quite match the unequivocal memory of something breathtakingly beautiful.

Afterlight premiered in October 2009 as part of the Spirit of Diaghilev program at Sadler’s Wells. Proietto brought to life the spirit of Nijinsky (which you can sense in the pages of Lincoln Kirstein’s superb collection of photographs, Nijinsky Dancing): introspective, sensitive, exotic. It was Maliphant’s inspired idea to marry the movement with music of similar qualities — the first four of Erik Satie’s Gnossiennes — and with Michael Hulls’ alchemy of light: choreography, music and lighting that compose a deeply satisfying unity.

Gulgeç appears with his back to us in carmine tunic and skullcap, spiraling his arms around his turning torso as if he is pressed against the glass that Hulls’ tube of light suggests. Gulgeç has the muscular ability to draw out the unctuous quality of the movement, but without quite the poetic, otherworldly element that I remember in Proietto’s performance. At the end of the second movement, he flings off his jacket in an uncharacteristically prosaic gesture and is now all in white for the third movement, which has a tone of pain or ecstasy whose ambivalence Gulgeç matches. Maliphant builds up the range of movement, exploring the air for the first time while keeping the spiraling, cutting, fluid turns that scythe through space so beautifully. The dappled lighting shrinks in the fourth movement while the dance continues to grow in elevation and expanse at the outer reaches of the solo piano, but the lighting gradually hauls Gulgeç back in to the jar until he disappears altogether.

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Faun continues in the spirit of Nijinsky, delving into and reinventing his 1912 ballet, L’après-midi d’un faune. Cherkaoui’s choreography lays aside Egyptian fresco for free form, but he keeps the lithe, muscled and animal quality that James O’Hara embodies beautifully in his opening solo. The way he first appears, tightly rolled up under Adam Carré’s lighting, gives the impression he is still coiled around another’s body. To Debussy’s evocative score he unfurls, as if waking up on a lazy morning, shaking out the orgy of the previous night and imagining the next. Nittin Sawhney seamlessly interweaves his own score into that of Debussy to introduce the new object of the faun’s desire, Daisy Phillips. Where O’Hara is sinuous, Phillips is so flexible that her articulation verges on contortion; her facility undermines the feral sense of muscle and tendons and has the odd effect of leaving the partnership emotionless: muscular articulation, it would appear, is part of the language of dance and conveys emotional sense.  However, the sheer invention of the interlocking choreography is not lost, nor is the sense of mysticism overlaid with the erotic in both choreography and music. Sometimes it is difficult to tell whose leg is whose in the intricate embraces and there are animal images of a mother cradling her young and a playfulness between the couple that is a pleasure to watch. At the end, Carré focuses a very bright spot on O’Hara as he reaches down to pick up Phillips from their feral sporting, but she recedes between his legs while he remains standing, suddenly imbued with moral sense, unsure what they had just experienced.

The link to Nijinsky in the first two works abruptly disappears in the third. Wayne McGregor’s UNDANCE, as its capital letters shrilly proclaim, is an elaborate conceit: some Muybridge-inspired exercises performed between Mark Wallinger’s two side boards with large painted letters ‘UN’ equals UNDANCE. Ha. Despite the conceit (though I did at first wonder what the political overtones could be), the opening is visually promising — a feature of McGregor’s collaborative works and of Lucy Carter’s lighting — but the promise fails to deliver and the end deceives: the restlessness of the audience as the performance progresses is palpable. Wallinger’s set design, including the UN boards, consists of a screen at the back of the stage on which the dancers are projected deliberately out of synch with the choreography on stage, either a step or two ahead or a step or two behind. As a statement in itself it is visually arresting, but in the context of UNDANCE, it simply multiplies what is essentially uninteresting. I don’t think Mark Anthony Turnage’s music helps the attention span, either. We are told that his score was inspired by a text written by Wallinger, which was in turn inspired by American sculptor Richard Serra’s Compilation of Verbs and the work of photographer Eadweard J. Muybridge. McGregor picked up on the Muybridge but his choreography is inconsequential in the company of his two mutually inspired artistic collaborators who appear to be doing their own thing in their own time.