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Sadler’s Wells Theatre

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





More Sadler’s Wells reviews:

Malevo | ★★★★ | Peacock Theatre | October 2023
Kyiv City Ballet – A Tribute To Peace | ★★★½ | Peacock Theatre | September 2023
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater At 65 | ★★★★★ | Sadler’s Wells Theatre | September 2023
Dance Me | ★★★★★ | Sadler’s Wells Theatre | February 2023
House of Flamenka | ★★★★ | Peacock Theatre | September 2022
Machine de Cirque | ★★★★★ | Peacock Theatre | June 2022
Fruits | ★★★★★ | Lilian Baylis Studio | March 2023
Breakin’ Convention 2021 | ★★★★★ | Sadler’s Wells Theatre | July 2021
Wild Card | ★★★★ | Sadler’s Wells Theatre | June 2021
Overflow | ★★★★★ | Sadler’s Wells Theatre | May 2021



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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater


Sadler’s Wells



Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

“A great introduction to the company, and modern dance, for modern audiences”

This year is the first time Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has performed in the UK since 2019 and they are making the most of the opportunity. The fifteen show run at Sadler’s Wells treats audiences to four different programmes spanning a wide range of classics and more contemporary pieces.

Most programmes end with the iconic and uplifting Revelations, created by the company’s founder-choreographer in 1960. It is a masterpiece of modern dance, a tribute to Ailey’s southern American upbringing – standing the test of time through its combination of moving spirituals, evocative costume, and as a piece which allows the company’s large cast of dancers the opportunity to demonstrate their technical prowess. It’s the most rehearsed, most precisely directed piece of the programme. The artistry is evident, with the smallest movements of the arms, hands, or hips often having the most powerful impact. I only wished the music could be louder – ear-drum-bustingly so – to be transported all the more into a southern baptismal church where the power of the music means you can’t help but find yourself dancing in the aisles.

In a clever programming decision, the opening piece in many ways mirrors Revelations, as a celebration of the contemporary black experience. Are You in Your Feelings? was created for the company by Kyle Abraham and is set to popular black music from Kendrick Lamar to Jazmine Sullivan. It is a playful piece with plenty of humour, bright neon lights and costumes contrasting with the muted tones of Revelations. From braggadocious displays of street swagger, through to voguing and intimate pas de deux, mixed and same gender, Abraham clearly has a broad church when seeking to represent the black experience.

The choreography here is more relaxed than the other works, informed by classical techniques but taking its cue from the musical choices, and likely the dancers own unique styles. Some moments, like when doing a pastiche of a petit allegro to a Drake song, don’t quite come off. But that doesn’t detract from enjoyment. Ashley Kaylynn Green is undoubtedly the star of the show. She intuitively melts into each and every movement, or jolts her isolations like a bolt of lightning. Her face lights up the stage and she looks like she’s having the time of her life – you can’t take your eyes off her.

The two pieces that act as the bridge between the contemporary and classic are For Four and Unfold, both by current artistic director Robert Battle. For Four is a high intensity jazz number where the rapid and precise movements of the four dancers have a specificity to the music. Unfold, set to an operatic aria, takes a much slower pace, but appears no less demanding on the dancers. But neither piece is just a beautiful display of talent; each leaves you with questions about what you were really watching. The jazz formula is broken in For Four when one of the dancers breaks out of their braces and waistcoat and dances in a spotlight of the american flag. Ashley Mayeux’s movements in Unfold get steadily more unnerving and unnatural, until she looks like a woman possessed. No explanations are given in either piece, and you are left wondering what it could all mean – an interesting contrast to the relatively simple narratives in the other half of the programme.

The four year hiatus from UK shores has done nothing but increase anticipation for this iconic American company who have delivered with crowd-pleasers and more challenging works. This is a must-see show for dance aficionados and amateurs alike. A great introduction to the company, and modern dance, for modern audiences.


Reviewed on 5th September 2023

by Amber Woodward

Photography by Paul Kolnik


Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at 65 runs at Sadler’s Wells Theatre until 16th September and features four different programmes. This review was Programme C (Contemporary Voices) 




Previously reviewed at this venue:



Dance Me | ★★★★★ | February 2023
Breakin’ Convention 2021 | ★★★★★ | July 2021
Wild Card | ★★★★ | June 2021
Overflow | ★★★★★ | May 2021
Reunion | ★★★★★ | May 2021

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

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