Review: Kontakthof, Barbican

Just a short review as it was a last minute cheap deal through Facebook and I’m never too sure what I’m saying when it comes to dance.

Kontakthof is a dance piece by Pina Bausch (now sadly passed away) for a large group of dancers which is set in a dancehall and purports to explore male/female relations and the pursuit of desire. It is performed by Tanztheater Wuppertal, the company for whom it was written, but there’s a twist in its presentation here at the Barbican: there’s two casts, one made up of over-65s and one made up of teenagers so you can have two very differing experiences here: I saw the teenage cast. Continue reading “Review: Kontakthof, Barbican”

Review: Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake

Returning to the Sadler’s Well theatre where it premiered 14 years ago, Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake has become a massive success, winning awards on both sides of the ocean and becoming a staple in many a dance house, no mean feat for a production that at the time was considered to be highly controversial. I actually saw this back then as a tender youth, and whilst it may not have made me wanted to become a dancer, it did make me want to be held by a muscular swan!

Taking the revered ballet classic that is Swan Lake, with Tchaikovsky’s iconic score, Bourne refashioned it into a modern dance piece, retaining elements of the original story, about the search for love and what people are willing to do to defend it once found, with a few key changes: adding a considerable amount of humour and most notably, recasting the flock of swans from the usual delicate ballerinas to bare-chested men in feathery breeches, thereby changing the dynamic of the central relationship making it between two men. That said, this remains a truly universal story, the need for a mother’s love and the love of a partner can be recognised and felt by people of any sexuality. Continue reading “Review: Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake”

Review: Matthew Bourne’s Dorian Gray

Just a quick review for this as it was a couple of weeks ago, and the run has now finished, plus there’s lots of lovely pics I wanted to post too! Matthew Bourne’s Dorian Gray returned to Sadler’s Wells after premiering in Edinburgh last summer, with largely the same cast. Taking Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray as its source material, this dance drama updates the action to modern times, so that Dorian is now a beautiful model who becomes an ‘It boy’ who takes the London fashion scene by storm, the portrait becomes a giant advertising billboard and there are a couple of characters who have switched gender.

I generally do not go to much dance and so cannot comment with much authority on the finer points of the quality of the choreography, but I can say that I found it most entertaining. The combination of the at times classical dancing between pairs and the modern, almost pop video-like group dances worked very well, and there was a surprising amount of humour worked into the dance as well. My lack of dance knowledge perhaps made me focus more on the storytelling, and I find it incredible how well the piece did in relating the action with not a word being said. The only area that needed a little clarity for me was with the doppelganger: I wasn’t sure whether he was a real character that had appeared on the scene or meant to just be an alter ego of Dorian himself. Continue reading “Review: Matthew Bourne’s Dorian Gray”

Review: in-i, National Theatre

in-i marks a remarkable collaboration between dancer/choreographer Akram Khan and actress Juliette Binoche in which they dared each other to push personal and professional boundaries and create a work of art stretching over both their disciplines. The result is in-I, an 70 minute piece of intriguing dance theatre.

It purports to take us through the 14 different words that the Greeks have for love, but for me it felt like one could trace the turbulence of one relationship throughout. Taking us on a journey through this relationship, heavily influenced by his religious upbringing, her fears of domestic violence, as the couple come together, clash, separate, reunite and over again as they both struggle to deal with their innate fierceness. Continue reading “Review: in-i, National Theatre”