Just ticking over
DANCE Ballet Comunidad de Madrid Peacock Theatre, London
Wednesday 23 April 1997
There is no doubt that his company is a class act. Sleek beauties who can kick your hat off at a moment's notice are partnered by muscular young men whose high jumps land in breathtaking unison. They get a lot of practice at this. Ullate's choreography is nothing if not synchronised, indeed at times the only point to its reams of high extensions, nifty pirouettes and fleet jetes is their simultaneous delivery en masse. It's the choreographic equivalent of a computer screen-saver that keeps the dancers ticking over until someone finds them something worthwhile work to do.
Tuesday's mixed programme began with Ven Que Te Tiente (literally "Come, you will be tempted"), which opens with a young man in a little blue Norfolk jacket anxiously clutching a book. The ensemble enter and dance briefly in a stilted and artificial manner, only bursting into life when the observer has left to recordings of traditional songs by Carmen Linares. This is presumably intended to make the point that traditional dance loses its charm and spontaneity once intellectualised. The only problem with this is that Ullate's choreography, which tends to mask the individuality of his attractive dancers, is itself a little too clinical and inexpressive to sustain the argument.
Tras el Espejo (Behind the Mirror), a tribute to the flamenco star Carmen Amaya, features Rut Mir, who enters slowly from the wings wearing a white satin bata de cola. The audience begins to giggle as it realises that the traditional ruffles are nearly 40-feet long. She parades slowly and carefully in her mad dress, snaking her arms and arching her back before stepping out of her confining frills to reveal a snazzy body-stocking. Mir then proceeds to celebrate her new-found freedom in a sequence designed to display her extraordinary flexibility and dazzling jump. The contrast between the feline quality of this movement and the picturesque beauty of her earlier incarnation has something of La Chatte Metamorphosee en Femme about it. Mir's charm and talent are considerable but at times her gyrations, notably the graphic tilting of her pelvis to display the pert perfection of her jungle-patterned buttocks, were uncomfortably close to floorshow.
The final piece was Jaleos, which showcased the entire company in an exhilarating sub-Forsythian workout by women in sheer black bodysuits and toe shoes and an army of handsome bare-chested men. The women fouette frantically and the men leap and spin with boundless energy. Dance-goers are always happy to see beautiful, lithe dancers with flexible hip joints and good elevation performing with well-drilled precision, and the Peacock's audience was no exception. Ullate's reputation as a teacher is well deserved but, having generated such good dancers, he surely owes it to them either to craft or buy in some steps that allow them to express something more than their technique.
Peacock Theatre, London WC2 (0171-314 8800). To 3 May Louise Levene
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
Better Call Saul creator Peter Gould on the creative concerns of a prequel, season 2 and the mind-numbing realities of the small courts
Game of Thrones season 5: Emilia Clarke praises characters who 'accept their femininity'
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Glastonbury 2015 tickets: How to make sure you’re successful in Sunday's re-sale
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate