Push, Sadler's Wells, London

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Guillem's first solo was danced to flamenco guitar music by Carlos Montoya. She makes a glamorous entrance, in cropped henna wig and gauzy top and trousers, and the choreography is gauzy, too. Guillem bends and stretches in a soft spotlight, all winding, sinuous lines. In her ballet roles, she can be stiff in the torso. Working with Maliphant, who draws on yoga and capoeira, she uses her back with full force. This is a soft, slow dance. One of Montoya's numbers has flamenco clapping, but there's little footwork, certainly no stamping. Speed comes in when Guillem snaps a leg up into her famous six o'clock position, or whips round on her knees.

Maliphant's own solo, "Shift", is bolder. With Michael Hulls, his regular lighting partner, he has arranged a shadow dance. As he dances, his shadow is cast on to a line of screens - three shadows, now big, now small, but always dark and sharply defined; so clever. Maliphant is a fluent dancer, his movements juicily weighted. His upflung arms look exultant. His choreography sends his body tilting and swaying.

The last time I saw Guillem dance "Two", she was withdrawn. She's become much more commanding. She stands in a square of light, face in shadow, pulling her torso into bold angles. When she swings her limbs in circles, Hulls' lighting blurs the movement: she leaves a trail of light behind her.

Guillem and Maliphant appear together in "Push", the second new work. It starts with a series of movement snapshots: a few steps, cut off by a blackout. Each sequence starts with Guillem seated on Maliphant's shoulders. She slides down, a different way each time: arching back, slithering round. In the next section, they prowl around each other. This isn't a romantic pas de deux. Both dancers are poised, independent, cat-like. They don't flirt. Push is a long duet and loses momentum in the middle. Throughout, Guillem and Maliphant are strikingly cool and elegant.

Comments