Flesh dance: the nude show set for UK debut

A choreographer who describes himself as the "enfant terrible" of the dance world, and whose previous shows have featured scenes of simulated masturbation, is set to bring his work to Britain for the first time.

Dave St Pierre will make his London debut at Sadler's Wells next year, the theatre's chief executive, Alistair Spalding, announced yesterday.

Mr St Pierre's show, Un Peu de Tendresse Bordel de Merde, features 20 nude male and female dancers cavorting in blond wigs and will debut in June. First performed in Canada in May 2007, a polite translation of its title is: "A little tenderness for crying out loud." It is described as "leading the audience on a journey through their emotions as the performers leap with primal urgency, or lie crumpled and defeated on the ground, before climaxing in a moving finale".

"It's very lighthearted, very funny, and takes performance to its limits," said Mr Spalding. "We are not interested in shocking people. [When I first saw the show] it was like a jet plane taking off. You need that fizz."

Mr St Pierre rejects the accusation that his work seeks to shock. "My God, I've seen shows that I thought were extremely shocking but never enough to walk out," he said. "One [of my scenes] was a kind of suicide. That was reality. That was sadistic. I do theatre."

In a 2008 interview, he said: "People need time to reflect on my proposal. If people bristle at it right from the start, they won't listen. Some people don't have enough tolerance to risk listening. They're not obliged to, of course, but how do these people react when problems arise in life? Do they just turn away?" One of the choreographer's previous shows, La Pornographie des âmes, which premiered in Montreal in 2004, also contained scenes of masturbation, and members of the audience did indeed walk out. It touched on subjects as wide-ranging as "fast food and 9/11", with music by Maria Callas, Rob Zombie and Björk.

Sadler's Wells will also bring horses on to a London stage for the first time in 40 years in a specially commissioned performance of The Centaur and The Animal in March. The show will be choreographed by Bartabas, the renowned French horse trainer, film producer and impresario. Although the equine expert has taken his touring company, Zingaro Equestrian, to perform in New York and Tokyo, the run in London will be his British debut.

The Pet Shop Boys are also set to team up in March with Javier de Frutos, the Venezuelan dancer and choreographer, for a new full-length dance work based on the Hans Christian Andersen story, The Most Incredible Thing. The performance will star Ivan Putrov, the former principal dancer at the Royal Ballet, along with a 26-piece orchestra and 16-strong cast.

"We wanted to do something unfashionable, like a Tchaikovsky ballet, but with pop music," said Neil Tennant, the Pet Shop Boys' singer. He added that he was impressed by de Frutos's "synchronicity" and hoped the result would be a "family show".

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