Sadlers’ Wells Theatre

10 March 2023

Maggie Foyer

Tiler Peck hits London with a blast of art, nothing abstruse or esoteric, just sheer physical brilliance. The quality is top drawer and the speed is moving off the register in an evening where dancers do what dancers want to do. These are dancers loving their art and their pleasure is infectious.

Thousandth Orange is inspired by the idea of seeking perfection in repetition and finding more to treasure with each repeat. It’s an exercise in choreography from Peck, written at a time when she was unable to dance due to injury. The movement builds organically, skilfully executed by six dancers in bright pastel colours, the gentle play on emotions given weight by Peck’s triumph over adversity.

Tiler Peck and Roman Mejia in Swift Arrow
Photo: Christopher Duggan

The dynamics get a turbo thrust with Alonzo King’s Swift Arrow where Peck is partnered by NYCB colleague Roman Mejia. The source is embedded in aspects of Hindu philosophy, here the soul’s desire to merge into oneness. The two dancers work at a speed that demands thinking and reacting as one, both fully present on the same page. The language is eloquent, the repartee agile and smart as they question and answer to Jason Moran’s music played onstage by pianist, Shu-Wei Tseng. The brilliance is there but more important is that warm embrace as the lights fade.

Tiler Peck and Michelle Dorrance in Time Spell
Photo: Christopher Durrance

Time Spell, a collaboration by Peck, ace tapper Michelle Dorrance and choreographer, Jillian Meyers, is where musicality comes to the fore. The dance is embedded in the rhythms as styles switch from classical to jazz and all shades between, coaxed, cajoled and charmed by vocal improvisations from Aaron Marcellus Sanders and Penelope Wendtlandt. The miked tap board snakes out from the wings and four dancers pound the boards, vocals take over to mellow the mix then ballet dancers spiral through the air, their steps new-minted virtuosity. It is utterly breath taking, leaving the audience needing the interval as much as the dancers.


Brooklyn Mack, Tiler Peck, Lex Ishimoto and Roman Mejia in The Barr Project, Blake Works II
Photo: CLI Studios

William Forsythe’s Barre Project: Blake Works ll, one of Covid’s gifts (there had to be something good from the pandemic), is what it says on the tin. On the darkened stage there is a barre and each of the four dancers, Peck and Mejia joined by Lex Ishimoto and Brooklyn Mack, gets to rest a hand on it. Each, at some time, stands at the barre, whips through a sequence of steps ending on a tendu, exquisitely stretched. In between and around these moments, ballet technique is dissected with laser precision, restructured with mathematical precision and sprinkled with magic dust so you won’t believe that what you’re seeing is possible. It’s an exhilarating close to an evening of pure balletic enjoyment.