GöteborgsOperans Danskompani: Skid by Damien Jalet and SAABA by Sharon Eyal at Sadler’s Wells
Featuring two masterpieces of contemporary dance, this production by the deservedly popular GöteborgsOperans Danskompani juxtaposes two very different and highly charged performances. This is an event that mesmerises and tilts audiences’ minds from the first tap to the last beat.
Skid by Damien Jalet was inspired by the Onbashira festival rituals in Nagano, Japan; the stage is tilted by 34 degrees, forcing the dancers to contend with gravity in a very real way: any wrong movement can result in them losing their grip. But this unique feature oddly turns Skid into a representation of Camus’s absurdism: the audience watches row upon row of performers struggle to maintain their balance, but ultimately fall into the abyss.
It’s all well-choreographed, of course, and very deliberate, but the effect is rather intoxicating as the audience traces the struggles. It’s a clever metaphor for life and the resistance and surrender we engage with on a day-to-day basis – much like Camus’s triumphant Sisyphus, who pushes his rock up a mountain. And much like Sisyphus, Jalet’s piece ends with a brief instance of triumph as one of the dancers manages to make it to the top – just before falling again.
Sharon Eyal’s SAABA, conversely, features a more conventional stage, but therefore curious costumes by Maria Grazia Chiuri for the House of Dior. These skin-tight costumes evoke a sense of nakedness, which reflects the vulnerability the dancers perform on-stage to the endlessly repetitive and haunting score by Ori Lichtik.
There is an eerie and highly effective contrast between the sometimes upbeat and often muffled, repetitive score, and the jarring, wide movements by the dancers. The overall effect is hypnotic, forcing the audience to look on as the production unfolds. It’s powerful, on the verge of transcendence, only to pull back to a crude and harsh reality in the last moment.
As such, this production by the GöteborgsOperans Danskompani is a definite success. It’s a varied and gripping show, very unusual in its planning and execution, and there’s no doubt that it delivers. An easy recommendation for lovers of contemporary dance.
GöteborgsOperans Danskompani: Skid by Damien Jalet and SAABA by Sharon Eyal is at Sadler’s Wells from 11th until 13th May 2023. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch a trailer for the show here: