LOVETRAIN2020 at Sadler’s Wells Theatre
“This is a deeply unusual and contemporary performance.”
LoveTrain2020 bursts onto stage in a whirlwind of colour and energy.
Choreographer Emmanuel Gat has created a vision of contemporary dance, interpreting and complementing the music of ‘80s band Tears for Fears.
In its best moments this performance makes dance feel extremely cool. It centres the performers’ bodies, playing with the audience’s role as a voyeur. Solos are watched by silent performers, further exploring themes of watcher and gaze. It’s sexy and provocative. Gyrating bodies pulse together in orgiastic masses. We as the audience are welcomed into the intimacy as spectators.
Thomas Bradley’s costume design – all ruffles and mesh in vibrant colours – is sublime. It is high fashion, while also adding extraordinary movement to the dance. Disappointingly, as the performers strip layers away and reveal their underwear beneath, much of it is drab cotton. For a performance that is so exploratory of the body, and where the costumes are so breath-taking, it feels a strange oversight to leave the dancers clad in high street cotton pants.
Gat’s choreography plays with the space, using every inch to the troupe’s advantage. Some performance is partially obscured behind huge fabric panels at the back of the stage, some happens right on the edge of the front row. Often multiple stories will be unfolding on opposite sides – there is never a dull moment. Every segment feels tonally and stylistically different, while remaining cohesive as a greater piece.
The lighting (Emanuel Gat) and sound design (Frédéric Duru) are also unusual. Much of the performance is in partial, or total darkness. When there is light, it lights the stage like a painting, bringing out the richness in the coloured fabrics and the carefully considered shaping of the poses. Also, several of the dances are in silence. The first of these was such a special experience. Nothing but the sound of her breathing, footsteps and the rustle of ruffles. This stylistic choice continues throughout the show, and clearly divides the audience. For me the electric highs were so intense that it was wise to add light and shade in this way, but there is a discomfort with silence on stage, especially in dance, and it was a challenging choice.
This is a deeply unusual and contemporary performance. It plays with the very essence of how we see dance, and musicals, but in a way which feels accessible and thrillingly taboo.
LOVETRAIN2020 the Sadler’s Wells Theatre
Reviewed on 17th November 2023
by Auriol Reddaway
Photography by Julia Gat
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