Voices of America at Sadler’s Wells
American contemporary ballet is rediscovered at the Sadler’s Wells with this unmissable English National Ballet bill. A quartet of brilliant pieces – old and new – from four of the most imaginative choreographers the 20th century could offer, are brought together to provide energy and creativity in an extraordinary show simply titled Voices of America.
A dark eye welcomes the entering audience, disappearing later as the show starts to introduce a series of unidentifiable creatures for Fantastic Beings. The piece, first created for the company in 2016, has been reshaped by its original architect – Aszure Barton – to build an even more enchanting atmosphere. It is a long and spellbinding sequence, alternating smooth group movements with both duets and soloist segments. The number is enriched by the music of Anthology of Fantastic Zoology by Mason Bates. Although it is the longest work of the night, Barton’s piece is executed with astounding spontaneity, cleverly playing with the fringes of the costumes and the violin-heavy orchestra score.
The subsequent series of pas de deux by William Forsythe breaks with the very classical take of the first routine thanks to its more fragmented style, as well as the bright fluorescent suits and the absence of continuous flowing music. The focus, instead, is on the muscular flexibility of the dancers.
The show in its entirety aims to represent the past, the present and the future of contemporary American ballet. Thus, the choice to revive The Cage – which first saw the light in 1951, when it was unleashed from the mind of Jerome Robbins – couldn’t be more fitting. An all-female arachnoid tribe performs male killing initiation rites. The piece – the oldest of the four – is shockingly compelling still today, potentially an imaginary revenge story for victims of sexual abuse. The ballerinas vault and pirouette with agility and strength, captivating in their domination of the environment.
While the third act is controlled by women only, it sits in stark contrast with the 12-man troupe of the final number. Playlist (Track 1, 2) – also choreographed by Forsythe – is the most daring and effervescent performance of the night. This new work wonderfully combines electronic music with classical movements to birth an impressively dazzling creation. Taking the beat firstly from soul classic Surely Shorty by Peven Everett, and then from the house remix of Impossible by Lion Babe, the artists on the stage dance with gusto, originally mixing more traditional movements with new figures, proving that ballet goes far beyond slow en pointe techniques. The final result is an incredibly enjoyable show, an original take that only the legendary Forsythe could gift to the audience.
Photo: Laurent Liotardo
Voices of America is at Sadler’s Wells from 12th April until 21st April 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.