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Dance review: Earthfall - Chelsea Hotel


New York's Chelsea Hotel has been a home to artists, writers and musicians for more than a century. The latest touring work from Cardiff-based dance theatre company Earthfall evokes the hotel's bohemian atmosphere and tragicomic chaos. The four dancers play wide-eyed tourists, rebels, addicts and ghosts.

Directed by Jessica Cohen and Jim Ennis, the production mixes text, dance and film. The live music, by Frank Naughton, Sion Orgon and Felix Otaola, goes from wispy indie to thumping rock. Mike Brookes' set is a jumble of furniture, with an iron bed and cowboy boots kept in the fridge. Though characters aren't named, you can have fun spotting hints of Patti Smith or Sid Vicious, Warhol Factory stars and grumpy artists.

The spoken sequences are self-conscious, but I love the way Earthfall's fine performers get under the skin of the different residents. Ros Haf Brooks switches from fey, flighty girl in a Victorian dress to a leather-coated dominatrix without a hint of cliché.

The choreography mixes naturalistic gesture and muscular dance, with risky acrobatic partnering. The dancers are particularly good at reactions: lovers casually sharing space, rivals getting into each other's faces, everybody crammed together on the iron bed or in the lift.

Until 16 November, then touring. Box office 020 8237 1111. Tour dates here