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Pure Dance

Pure Dance

★★★★

Sadler’s Wells Theatre

Pure Dance

Pure Dance

Sadler’s Wells Theatre

Reviewed – 23rd October 2019

★★★★

 

“The connection between them was electric”

 

Pure Dance is a curated evening of seven pieces, designed to showcase Natalia Osipova’s talent and versatility. Osipova came from the Bolshoi to be a principal dancer with the Royal Ballet, and in this evening’s programme, she was paired with three male dancers, Jonathan Goddard, David Hallberg and Jason Kittelberger.

The first piece was the delicate and delightful ‘The Leaves are Fading,’ from a ballet by Antony Tudor. Osipova and Hallberg wove a lovely pas de deux, full of a gentle longing like leaves swirling in an autumn breeze. The technical artistry of the two dancers and the lyricism of their movements was mesmerising.

Next came ‘Left Behind,’ a powerful contemporary piece, passionate and full of feeling. Osipova danced with Kittleberger, her real life partner, who was also the choreographer. The connection between them was electric. This story of a couple in the final stages of a tempestuous relationship showcased Kittleberger’s amazing fluidity, at times he seemed to be sliding through a liquid slow motion breakdance, where every gesture was full of feeling. Osipova was transformed from the graceful ballerina into a very real, connected and bold contemporary dancer. She has been criticised in the past for a lack of emotional connection with her partners in contemporary pieces, but in the seven minutes of this dance she proved herself, completely inhabiting the character and drama of the dance. The audience roared it’s approval. It was one of the stand out performances of the evening.

In ‘Flutter,’ by Ivan Perez, Osipova was partnered by Jonathan Goddard. This piece was a little uneven. The first half, with music composed by Nico Muhly, was true to the title, the two dancers fluttering and skipping into and out of the light to a chorus of women’s voices. There was a lovely touch of 1967 San Fransisco in the childlike playfulness. But Osipova had lost the emotional connection she’d found so deeply in the previous piece.

The other standout piece of the evening was ‘In Absentia,’ a solo danced by the astonishing David Hallberg. The only light came from a low source, disguised as a television, throwing a huge shadow of the dancer on the back wall. Hallberg gave us a masterclass in how to dance with emotional power and commitment. It was wonderful.

The first piece in the first second half was ‘Six Years Later,’ a rather loo long exploration of a couple’s relationship after a six year absence. Kittelberger was back, and there were moments of true connection and feeling between him and Osipova, and some clever choreography by Roy Assaf.

Ave Maria was Osipova’s solo, choreographed for her by Yuka Oishi. It was rather lovely.

The final piece was Valse Triste, and it paired Osipova and Hallberg in a graceful, lyrical pas de deux, the perfection of their technique and interpretation displayed in classical style as in ‘The Leaves are Falling’. Two dancers at the top of their profession, leaving the audience with a charming end to the evening.

 

Reviewed by Katre

Photography by Johan Persson

 


Pure Dance

Sadler’s Wells Theatre until 26th October

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Dystopian Dream | ★★★★★ | November 2018
Layla and Majnun | ★★★½ | November 2018
Swan Lake | ★★★★★ | December 2018
Bon Voyage, Bob | ★★½ | February 2019
The Thread | ★★½ | March 2019
Mitten Wir Im Leben Sind/Bach6Cellosuiten | ★★★★★ | April 2019
Rite Of Spring | ★★★★★ | May 2019
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre – Programme A | ★★★★ | September 2019
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre – Programme C | ★★★★ | September 2019

 

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Soul of Shaolin

★★★★

Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre

Soul of Shaolin

Soul of Shaolin

Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre

Reviewed – 26th September 2019

★★★★

 

“a spectacular show with dazzling displays of martial arts … prepare to be amazed!”

 

This is a spectacular show with dazzling displays of martial arts. The thirty three strong company thrilled us with their incredible physical feats; at times it felt as though everyone in the audience was holding their breath, only to gasp in amazement at the skill, strength and grace of the performers. The young boys were a particular delight, portraying their life in the temple learning Kung Fu and being naughty and cheeky like kids the world over. There is a lot of humour in the show, in addition to the central story of a mother and her lost child.

The story is set in China in a time of war, and a mother hides her baby behind a rock to keep it safe. She leaves half of a jade amulet with her son, keeping the other half for herself. When she manages to return the child has gone. She has no way of knowing that the tiny boy has been found by a Shaolin monk and taken to the monastery, where he will be cared for and trained in martial arts and spiritual discipline. The action of the show follows the boy, Hui Guang, as he grows from into a man and becomes a Kung Fu master. He is played by three different performers as he ages. There is a lovely relationship between the boy and the monk who found him, showing the tender, caring side of these almost supernaturally powerful warrior monks. One day Hui Guang breaks up a fight in town and loses his half of the jade amulet, which is found by one of the women he has just defended. She is, of course, his mother. She goes to the temple to find him, and he has to decide whether to stay with his fellow monks or go and make a life with her.

But the story is not really the point of the show. The point is the stunning artistry and athleticism of the cast. The acting is stylised, as it often is in ballet, but we really feel for the young man as he decides whether to leave the only home he has known, and for the kindly monk who raised him. The sound is all recorded, and is nicely evocative, blending with the projected backdrops to give the audience a sense of the passage of time and the sights and sounds of temple life. Liu Tongbiao choreographed and directed, weaving martial set pieces into the simple story in an accessible and thrilling way.

It is really worth trying to get a ticket, but it’s not on for long. If you go an see it, prepare to be amazed!

 

Reviewed by Katre

Photography courtesy Soul of Shaolin 

 


Soul of Shaolin

Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre until 6th October

 

Last ten shows covered by this reviewer:
Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare: The Taming Of The Shrew | ★★★★★ | Leicester Square Theatre | April 2019
On Reflection | ★★★★★ | Underbelly Festival Southbank | May 2019
Zara | ★★★★★ | Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park | May 2019
Elixir Extracts Festival: Company Of Elders | ★★★★★ | Lilian Baylis Studio | June 2019
Napoli, Brooklyn | ★★★★ | Park Theatre | June 2019
Fiver | ★★★★ | Southwark Playhouse | July 2019
The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ – The Musical | ★★★★★ | Ambassadors Theatre | July 2019
The Worst Witch | ★★★★ | Vaudeville Theatre | July 2019
The Hunchback Of Notre Dame | ★★★★ | St Paul’s Church Covent Garden | August 2019
Mother Of Him | ★★★★★ | Park Theatre | September 2019

 

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