Mixed Bill – Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet: Sadler’s Wells, London, 11 October 2012

The name’s Bond. Jon Bond

Cedar Lake can’t believe it’s not butter. Crystal Pite’s Grace Engine. Photo by Julieta Cervantes

Making their UK debut the highly acclaimed Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet had the opportunity to impress a new audience and it was so nearly a total triumph. The dancers are excellent, the choreography rich and the company as a whole comes with a formidable reputation that has them facing the future flat in the face and grabbing it by the nose to see which way it will bend.

Alexander Ekman’s Tuplet overcame its not so revelatory premise by showcasing its ‘everything is rhythm’ argument in a hugely entertaining way. A predominantly narration-based sequence of distinct movements, a lone silhouetted dancer opened things up by strutting his warm-up techniques with devastatingly effective timing and speed. A further section compiled of six dancers imprisoned in a line of individual spotlights that flicked on and off at the narrator’s will proved the performers’ incredible agility and warm projection, particularly in the funny video-game sequence where their own names became the rhythm they responded to. Tuplet, however, didn’t benefit from its closing movement where it went all serious on us – it was far more engaging when being played for laughs.

Sadly, the ongoing incompatibility of the English weather with English trains meant that the opening work of the night, Hofesh Shechter’s Violet Kid, has been left for me to see another day. Ironic, then, that the night’s closing work, Crystal Pite’s intriguing Grace Engine, was chug-full of locomotive references.

There were some great visuals. The Michael Jackson Bad-era commuter face-off was crammed with startling poses and freeze-frames, the slow motion homage to The Matrix was wonderfully done and the long line of dancers slowly moving forward with a steady drop of the shoulders was spellbinding. But there were two long meandering duets that slowed down an already restrained work and as the curtain descended it seemed a bit of a waste of all the ferocious energy gagging to burst out of the dancers. Consequently the audience left saying how good the company was when, with a more dynamic finale, they might just have been leaving saying how amazing they were.

Gerard Davis

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet are performing at Sadler’s Wells until Saturday 13 October 2012. Tickets are available through http://www.sadlerswells.com/

This entry was posted in Alexander Ekman, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, Crystal Pite, Hofesh Shechter, Sadler's Wells and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s