Review: Sadler's Wells Sampled, Sadler's Wells Theatre

There has never been such a day for this celebration of diversity as today, the 31st January, just 3.5 hours before Britain leaves the European Union. 

Artistic Director Alistair Spalding steps in front of the curtain as an introduction to the sample of eclectic dance explaining that ‘dance, by it’s nature, is diverse’ and he couldn’t be more accurate with an evening including performers from France, South Africa and Taiwan and styles originating from Argentina and India.

We begin with the (La) Horde company performing jumpstyle dance, originating from Belgian clubs, and dancing at 140 to 150 beats per minute. Entering individually over a time span of what feels like minutes the suspense builds for a release in energy. They begins shuffling in perfect formation with no music. 

The lack of sound highlights their skill and connection as a group. 

After a few rounds a couple break free jumping and swirling in perfect sync, looking free and yet so tightly choreographed and performed. The key to this style is its crispness. 

Next we have Max Revell, winner of BBC Young Dancer 2019, performing a piece ‘Unstrung’ with a flexible line between his hands and his feets. This was my favourite piece of the night: the emotion and loneliness and the longing for freedom were clear in his physicality. 

In terms of meaning, our third performer wins for me. Shree Savani performs bharatanatyam with a piece called Devi which focuses on female power as embodied by the goddesses and here by Shree herself. Bharatanatyam is a style of dance that I’ve never encountered until now – it is a Tamil style of dance and is over 3000 years old, and it is also moving and beautiful. 

Company Wayne McGregor perform a piece created by AI with Google using movements from their past repertoire to create an all new piece. The movement is slick and graceful incorporating ballet, contemporary and all the grace that is possible. This is a concept I’ve never seen before and the dancers themselves admit the technical challenge as a computer can never understand the complexity of making physical its sequences or the effect of gravity. 

We finish the first half and begin the second with Machine de Cirque performing their acrobatics in a post-apocalyptic world with a beautiful undertone of male friendship and trust which is vital in these gravity- defying stunts.

Boris Seva’s BLKDOG ingeniously represents a feeling of loss of self and confusion following the birth of a child. However, the company repeat that this confused landscape of emotions that is portrayed can be interpreted differently by everyone and this confusion and the terror that comes with this is clear to me in their excerpt. 

The show finishes in an explosion of Salsa from Ezequiel Lopez and Camila Alegre with a level of sexiness and sensuality that I have never seen before. 

Last but by no means least we see the shapes, patterns and rhythms by Géométrie Variable – a visual masterpiece, with movements so complex but lines so smooth that it looks completely natural and inhuman. 

A cacophony of different styles, if this show is anything like the rest of Sadler’s Wells year then we’re in for a treat.

Sadler’s Wells Sampled is playing at Sadler’s Wells until 1st February. For more information and tickets visit the Sadler’s Wells website.