If Black Mirror was a dance show, this would be it.
The Russell Maliphant Company production of Conceal | Reveal at Sadler’s Wells promises a night of all-consuming music, dance and light that all intertwine into one to create an astonishingly excellent performance.
As the dancers move around the stage in the first piece, ‘Spiral Pass’, lights illuminate their way. They are working with the light as opposed to it, only enhancing their performance. In a multitude of dance moves, what caught my eye was the amount of floor spins implemented (a moment occurs where one performer is spinning round the circle as the light becomes tighter and tighter) and the way the men spin the women about in an almost spider-like fashion. Surreal.
There is such strength in the dancers even though their movement is at times slow and achingly delicate. Every single muscle in their body is used to create shapes that I couldn’t do in my wildest dreams, particularly the principle female dancer, who is thrown about from one male dancer to the next like a ragdoll. How do they make it look so easy?
The music, of course, is weirdly wonderful. With heavy bass and discordant notes moving seamlessly from one composition to the next, the music increases and decreases in tempo naturally. We’re never bored as each movement is carefully constructed and then dissolved in time with the sound.
The second performance, ‘Broken Fall’, was perhaps my favourite; I thought it told of a love triangle between two men and a girl. The dancer (Yu-Hsien Wu) is unbelievably in touch with her physicality and it really shows. The dynamic between the three is really effective; even though the other performances play with light more, and so tie in with the theme of finding light and how it hits the body, I was struck by the surprisingly tender interaction between the three performers.
This performance will be more lasting to those with a background in dance, as this type of contemporary dance is an entire world away from stereotypical Hollywood movies that cater to the masses. This is an art form and needs to be appreciated as such.
Conceal | Reveal is playing at Sadler’s Wells until 28 November. For more information and tickets, see the Sadler’s Wells website. Photo: Hugo Glendinning.