Review: Thomas Adès: See the Music, Hear the Dance, Sadler’s Wells, London

Polaris sees 64 dancers melded together, performing as a mass

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Crystal Pite’s stunning new Polaris ends this evening of dance to music by Thomas Adès on a thrilling high – and by then, it needs it. With Adès playing and conducting his own works, it’s a musically rich, dense programme. In dance terms, Pite turns it from a damp squib into a hit.

Adès is a star of contemporary classical music, but his work is complex stuff for choreographers. Wayne McGregor’s Outlier twists fine dancers into knots to Adès’s violin concerto, sometimes awkwardly fast. Karole Armitage’s Life Story is brightened by soprano Claire Booth’s sly, swaggering performance of the Tennessee Williams words, as a couple fold into classical extremes. Alexander Whitley’s new The Grit in the Oyster is an underpowered dance trio to a mesmerising piano quintet.

Polaris blows away the competition. 64 dancers flood and seethe over the stage, moving as a mass or letting a head, a hand pop up against the tide. Dancers coil into angles like bats or ninjas, forming canon patterns that keep morphing. Pite matches the score’s epic sonorities with waves of movement that break, fold in on themselves, splinter and power on. It creates its own world on stage, unstoppable and fearsome.

Until 1 November. Box office 0844 412 4300