ZooNation: Unplugged at Sadler’s Wells
Inspired by the TV series MTV: Unplugged, where the likes of Jay-Z and Lauryn Hill performed stripped-back acoustic renditions of their songs, ZooNation: Unplugged presents us with groundbreaking urban dance and acoustic live music in the plush, majestic surroundings of Sadler’s Wells Theatre. Artistic director Kate Prince founded the ZooNation Dance Company in 2002 and has choreographed for So You Think You Can Dance (BBC), the movie StreetDance 3D and for the opening ceremony of the 2007 Tour de France. Featuring an array of inspiring young dancers (some of whom are improvising to music they’ve never heard before), singer-songwriters and DJs, there’s a great sense of excitement for what Prince and the Dance Company have in store for us tonight. On stage, the audience are presented with a live orchestra of acoustic guitarists, a drummer, and various singers surrounded by an assortment of urban dancers. Glittering fairy lights hang from the ceiling like stars, which makes for beautiful visuals while the performers are arranged on raised seating: a unique use of the stage space. The live band perform covers of urban classics such as Lauryn Hill’s That Thing, TLC’s No Scrubs and Destiny’s Child’s Bills Bills Bills, all of which are warmly received by the audience who whoop, cheer, and gasp at the daring feats of the acrobatic dancers backflipping and diving about the stage.
Dealing with everyday issues most could relate to, including the loneliness of adolescence, relationships, young love and domestic violence, the dancers put on breathtaking performances, achieving the right balance of getting us to laugh and touching our hearts. This is particularly evident in Invisible Me, the duet dance to Daft Punk’s Get Lucky, and a goose-bump rendering interpretive dance that accompanies a soothing soul performance of A Change Gon’ Come. The incredibly complex and beautifully choreographed Off The Wall is greeted with overwhelming applause.
During the second half we are treated to more break-dancing, gymnastic feats, an astonishing improvised popping-and-locking performance by a guest dancer and the full troupe entertaining us with Bruno Mars’ Locked Out Of Heaven. Ending on Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds, ZooNation leaves the audience singing along well after the curtain has gone down, and the standing ovation is very well deserved.
ZooNation: Unplugged was at Sadler’s Wells Theatre on 24th and 25th September 2013. For further information and future events visit ZooNation’s website here.
Watch a performance by ZooNation dance company here: