Russell Maliphant Company
Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London
November 27, 2015
Conceal|Reveal was a stimulating evening of dance showcasing the twenty year partnership of choreographer Russell Maliphant and lighting designer, Michael Hulls. The mix of four pieces: a powerful dance opening and a rather long, soft-edged third act was not particularly well balanced, but there was no denying the quality of the creations or the performances.
If nothing else, Spiral Path, proved that we ought to see more of Bayerisches Staatsballett in London. Working with Ivan Liška’s Munich based dancers, Maliphant’s well-crafted work found symbiotic harmony with Hulls’ lighting and Mukul’s dynamic sound score. Faced with dancers of this calibre, he explored virtuosic skills as the men executed knee spins with the daring of street dancers and the invention in partnering reached new heights. However it was lead dancer, Lucia Lacarra, who gave the work its deep centre. In the opening duet, ably partnered by Marlon Dino and set in a contained circle of light, she carved the air with laser precision creating extraordinary patterns and shapes. Later, carried and supported by four men in a thrilling aerial display, she soared and tumbled all the while maintaining an enigmatic nonchalance.
Hulls’ lighting that both initiated and illuminated played its part, drawing in new dancers as other disappeared into the dark spaces. The dancers proved well equipped to give both a keen technical edge and released fluidity and were quite wonderful to watch.
The middle act saw a welcome return of Broken Fall created in 2003 for Sylvie Guillem, Michael Nunn and William Trevitt. On the new cast of Wu Yu-hsien (吳禹賢), Adam Kirkham and Nathan Young, it found different relationships and expression. The wariness and independent voices of the first section find a meeting point bathed in the golden glow of three strong lamps then come together into comradely mode as Barry Adamson score finds jazz dynamics. In the give and take between the three Maliphant has created some of his best choreography and Wu, a most impressive dancer, gets to enjoy the final solo moment: her own woman in her own space.
In the closing act, Dana Fouras’ solo, «both, and» was paired with Maliphant’s latest work Piece No. 43, marking the 43rd collaboration between him and Hulls. Both works gave strong emphasis to the lighting elements but placing them back to back somehow diluted their effectiveness. Mukul’s pounding beat and a piercing light that silhouetted Fouras form made a startling opening. The mood softens with hints of orientalism in the rhythmic moves and elaborate shapes that Fouras weaves with torso and arms while the play of lights created duplicate bodies and a myriad of interesting images. It was good to see Fouras back on stage although much of the solo was in silhouette negating her personality to the shape and form.
Piece No. 43, continued the theme of skilful lighting playing on bodies; offering the canvas for the light to find expression in many inventive forms. In the middle section, to the dulcet tones of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata no. 14, the trio of women formed a backing to the men’s duet but it was Wu, in a powerful burst of energy accompanied by Mukul’s score, who gave the piece its raison d’etre.