Saturday 24 October 2009

A Brief Report from Sadler's Wells

Every so often Mrs Pollard announces that the time has come to go to the ballet again (normally about once a year, although this was our second trip in three months). Fortunately, she usually makes a good selection for this, and tonight's trip to Sadler's Wells was no exception.

The company in question was Christopher Wheeldon's new transatlantic ballet troup, Morphoses, in a mixed programme of three works, two choreographed by Wheeldon (Continuum, to music by Ligeti, and Rhapsody Fantasie, to music by Rachmaninov) and one choreographed by Paul Lightfoot and Sol Leon, of Netherlands Dance Theatre (Softly As I Leave You).

The programme was introduced by Wheeldon himself, who provided useful insight into the choreography (particularly the moment in Continuum inspired by his cat and dog having a spat. It also featured film of the company in rehearsal, and the final work included projected drawings by an artist who had sat in on those rehearsals.

Of the three I was most powerfully captivated by Softly as I Leave You. Beginning with a woman trapped in a backlit box, moving into a spellbinding pas de deux, the whole piece is haunting. The other two pieces also contained some striking moments. The final image of the dancers in Continuum had them crouched down, silhouetted, hands held out in supplication, and for some reason brought the word pieta to my mind, and made me think of old master paintings of appeals to God. All three pieces saw the dancing effectively integrated with music and, more unusually, lighting. Overall though, despite this effective integration and impeccable dancing Wheeldon's two pieces, for me, a little overstayed their welcome. Mrs Pollard suggested that it was a bit like watching Wheeldon's sketches – they didn't quite build up to a whole as they might have done, and this seems fair.

Having said that though, it is still a privilege to spend an evening watching such world class dancers. A company of this standard deserves to be showcased. The Edinburgh Festival director ought to take a look at them. In the meantime our New York readers (should we have any - Editors note: 9 in the last month) can catch the company on the next leg of their tour.

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