Candoco Dance Company: Beheld and Set and Reset/Reset at Sadler’s WellsCultureTheatre
Celebrating their 25th anniversary this year, Candoco Dance Company perform a double bill that mystifies and absorbs. Beheld is a strikingly emotive piece in which the dancers grapple with the possibilities and constraints of the space before them. It considers how we look and see the world. The second, Set and Reset/ Reset, reimagines Trisha Brown’s original choreography. This is an exciting and stirring presentation of emotive, physical and fluid pieces that challenge and demonstrate the place of disabled performers within the dance world.
Set to the haunting and mesmerising score of German composer, Nils Frahm, Beheld begins with the dancers circling and reshaping a black length of material. There is no light in the theatre as the performance begins, the dancers are revealed tantalisingly slowly. Initially, movements are limited; they walk around, stand, transfixed by the black object. Eventually their motion quickens. Frahm’s mixture of rippling synths and piano pieces touch an emotional nerve. The score creates an urgency that ripples through the dancers, who contort their bodies and allow the music to run through them. Powerful duets take on a different characteristic as those onstage seem to blend into each other. Lighting is experimented with to break up the performance. By the end, the cast bring the sheathes of black fabric back on, spinning and encircling each other with the material that seems to consume and constrain each of them in darkness; there are elements of a dance of death in this quasi-ritualistic ending.
Set and Reset/Reset is short and has punch; it is always moving, unlike Beheld. The perpetual motion and slipknot formations of the company’s cast of seven is marvellous to behold. Both pieces embrace the dancing abilities of disabled members; the group is expert at dancing in such a way as to create a sense of a whole motion while the performers equally vary and explore different shapes of expression. What is most striking about both the productions is the emotive energy of their movements and the hypersensitivity of each company member to the other: a tap from another dancer is enough for them to contort themselves or leap to another area of the stage.
The performances are beautifully modern and exciting, lasting just the right amount of time. They do not impose a limit on the audience’s interpretation but are unquestionably powerful and resonant.
The Candoco Dance Company was at Sadler’s Wells from 21st until 22nd October 2016.