Emanuel Gat Dance, Sadler's Wells, London
Tuesday 18 October 2011
With Brilliant Corners, choreographer Emanuel Gat plays at jazz patterns. The work is named after an album by jazz musician Thelonious Monk, but there's nothing by Monk in the soundtrack. Instead, dancers try out phrases and groups, play and move on.
Gat, whose company returns to London as part of Dance Umbrella, is one of a generation of Israeli choreographers making international names for themselves. In Britain, Hofesh Shechter is the best known. This generation shares a few characteristics; like Shechter, Gat has a fluid, loose-limbed style, and creates his own music as well as choreography. Besides work for his own dancers, Gat has worked for companies from the Paris Opéra Ballet to Sydney Dance Company.
The ten dancers, in street clothes, are relaxed and grounded. Deep pliés are smooth and sure; legs swing high without strain. Gat and his dancers enjoy playing with phrasing. In one sequence, the whole company try out slow, flowing movements, then finish the sequence with a snap. They don't dance in unison, but work out variations on a step or a mood.
With their different outfits and individual moves, Gat's dancers aren't a corps de ballet. Nevertheless, they work as a group. If individuals step out for a solo, it's always part of a larger group pattern.
The dancing area is a square of light. Between numbers, dancers will lurk in the deep shadows at the sides of the stage. Every now and then, the light changes, with a blast of bleached neon. It suggests a new game has started; they're working on a different puzzle. Chosen by Gat, the lighting scheme is frustrating. The harsh lights wash out onstage colours, and leave too much of the dancing in shadow.
Gat's soundtrack follows the dance changes, rather than leading them. We hear snatches of strings, blending into electronic hums. Late on, there's a burst of German lieder. The addition of a human voice might change the atmosphere, but the dancers just keep going.
Brilliant Corners has plenty of accomplished dancing, but its games go on too long. Gat's patterns are variations on a very narrow theme. The lights change, suggesting new beginnings, but there's not much contrast between the different numbers, between the different dancers. Gat's dance meanders forwards, like a noodling jazz solo.
Dance Umbrella continues to 29 October ( www.danceumbrella.co.uk)
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