Madhead at Sadler’s Wells
Artistic director and choreographer Botis Seva pushes boundaries and the limits of his dancers with latest work Madhead. Performed by 28 National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) performers aged 15-24 with 10 dancers from previous cohorts – along with the help of assistants from his company, Far From the Norm – Madhead is an intense and otherworldly production that captures the collective’s passion for their craft.
A black and white short video shows participants and instructors discussing their experiences. One dancer describes the challenges young people face when an uncertain future lies ahead, while Seva’s venture provides a solid foundation for those pursuing a creative and artistic career. The intensity and passion is evident in tonight’s show, as we see NYDC members push themselves to their fullest capabilities presenting truly inspiring talent.
Light slowly darkens and lifts on the group facing stage right while a female dancer walks through the rows reflecting a battlement. Strong accelerating motor sounds drive the piece forward, courtesy of Seva’s long-time collaborator, composer Torben Lars Sylvest. The troupe crawl on all fours across the stage, while machine drumming resonates, recalling marching bands. In another part the performers employ canes as rifles, then walk with bowed heads, embodying the elderly. The choreographer leaves the stories open to interpretation, making for an ultimately thought-provoking performance. Walking with lowered agape arms, the dancers imitate cyborgs in their robotic mannerisms, the synchronised acts near perfect, and a nod to the team’s hard work. Using the entire stage space including wings and walkways, the collective are sometimes stationary, at others skittering across on their haunches, demonstrating Seva’s unique and imaginative choreography that blends hip-hop, contemporary dance and physical theatre.
In one of the final sequences, a male dancer dressed in casual attire hugs the female, releasing her from the firm stance she has throughout. As more performers appear, also dressed in casual apparel, they jibe each other and carry out incredible solo pieces including back flips and full turns in the air. This individualism after the uniform movements hones in on Seva’s commentary on how “Madhead is about young people trying to communicate what they feel in their minds”, and a fundamental desire to be seen.
Photo: Tony Nandi
Madhead was at Sadler’s Wells on 19th July 2019.
Watch the trailer for Madhead here: