Sadler’s Wells Theatre

11 November 2019

Maggie Foyer

Emanuel Gat’s WORKS offers an enticing evening of dance. His dancers live in the moment, reacting to the instant, just what is needed in a world that is changing at a frightening speed. The performance is not memorable for grand effects or cutting edge design but for the intense human focus in the many small meaningful reactions that make it a living, breathing and constantly evolving piece of theatre.

Photo: Laurent Philippe

The ten dancers, all longterm collaborators with Gat, form a collective of individuals. While there is evidence in their movements of a Gat DNA absorbed by the bodies, there is also a range of dynamics shaped by individual temperament. This individuality is highlighted in the costumes, each chosen by the dancers themselves in a mind-blowing mix of gender bending eccentricity.

Of the six short works, the opening and closing numbers have the full company on stage in fast, close choreography, thrilling in its structural complexity, each dancer alive to the other’s movement. In between come solos and smaller groups. Sara Wilhelmsson disrobes from a very ordinary floral dress to a white leotard to perform a solo of great beauty and subtle subtext. The duet from Milena Twiehaus and Michael Löhr was equally intriguing with little overt emotion but plenty of depth as their body rhythms moved apart and came together along parallel paths. Thomas Bradley in a pink frock, that might well have been chosen by Grayson Perry, was a strong presence throughout especially in the last piece where his intense energy was thrilling.

Photo: Julia Gat

The musical choices were as diverse as the dancers, opening on Richard Strauss’ Im Abendrot and climaxing on Nina Simone singing Sinnerman, with J.S.Bach, Irving Berlin and Gat himself vying for the space between. This was a warm and inclusive evening of dance that never sought to alienate the audience, a very welcome quality.