Inner votive extinguished
Thanks mainly to the involvement of Benjamin Millipied, L.A. Dance Project maintains one of the highest profiles of all American contemporary dance companies. Whether the quality of work on offer justifies that is another matter.
Millipied had two works on show in this Triple Bill (including one world premiere) both of which were, at their absolute best, kind of nice. They’re pretty, intricate and skipped pleasantly along but is that really enough?
Hearts & Arrows and On The Other Side (parts two and three of a trilogy about gem stones sponsored by Van Cleef & Arpels; hmm, that sounds familiar…) were distinguishable from each other mainly because the costumes were cut from different cloths. Otherwise the choreography was an identical blend of flat-footed classical fattened up with cliché-ridden contemporary work (head rolling around someone’s hand, vacant walks into the wings, individuals jogging round in big circles etc).
The ensemble work was well-executed but most of the duets and solos amounted to very little. It was all a bit po-faced and it said something that the best bit was a charming section in On The Other Side led by Laura Bachman where she was finally allowed some joyful expression in both her face and her flighty steps.
On the plus side the choice of music (a string quartet and some piano pieces by Philip Glass) was excellent, Milliped’s musicality exquisite and Mark Bradford’s extravagant backdrop for On The Other Side magnificent.
Definitely better was Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Harbor Me, sandwiched between the two Millipieds. Wreathed in smoke and dripping in Fabiana Piccioli’s great wash of lighting, it looked beautiful. The trio of male dancers that performed it were stylish and highly accomplished. Robbie Moore was particularly good; his fractured jumps and twists were spectacular at times.
As always with Cherkaoui the various bodies were often combined to create fascinating shapes and images; variations on Nijinska’s Les noces‘ head pile-up said hello a few times but the piece could have done without the Marcel Marceau mimed box routine. It was a good work.
However, for a company that sells itself on innovative collaboration, the results of this Triple Bill were surprisingly conservative. Cutting edge it really wasn’t.
L.A. Dance Project’s Triple Bill continues at Sadler’s Wells until 25 June 2016. Tickets can be found on the Sadler’s Wells website.