If the structure’s broke, please fix it
Sadler’s Wells opened British Dance Edition (a three-day, multi-venue event designed to showcase British dance to promoters and producers across the world) with a mostly disappointing Triple Bill full of awfully clever names and titles.
Two of the night’s attractions, Candoco Dance Company and Wayne McGregor’s Random Dance, offered variations on a similar visual theme. There was plenty of running about and bumping into each other to no apparent purpose from both sets of dancers. But whereas McGregor’s extract from FAR was bursting with his trademark jagged propulsions, Trisha Brown’s Set and Reset/Reset was a gentler affair with plenty of elegiac curves and sweet smiles set to a chunky synth soundtrack by Laurie Anderson.
Both works quickly palled with lack of focus; McGregor’s the victim of too many frenetic movements that vanished from memory as soon as they appeared while Brown’s suffered from too much lacklustre repetition. The highlight of FAR, in fact, was the giant light-box at the back of the stage that dazzled itself into a tizzy against the threatening din of a wind tunnel.
Hofesh Shechter is possibly unique in how he communicates to his audience. He speaks not only through his choreography but also through his own scores and often, as in tonight’s The Art of Not Looking Back, directly through his own recorded narration. He has the virtue of making each of his pieces unique; being abandoned at the age of 2 was the motivation for this one and the combination of piercing screams, brain-melting guitars and Bach provoked some absorbing movement. Gibbering body contortions, stabbing tendus and aggressive down-kicking were all performed by his impeccably drilled female dancers in choreography that was trying to make sense of the soundtrack rather than, as McGregor and Brown had been guilty of earlier, pretending it wasn’t there. A great finish to what was otherwise a fairly unflattering vision of British dance.