Russell Maliphant Company, Sadler's Wells, London

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Last year, Russell Maliphant's AfterLight was the hit of the uneven Inspired by Diaghilev evening at Sadler's Wells.

Maliphant drew on images of Nijinsky – photographs of the dancer, and his own geometric drawings – to create a winding, turning solo. In this new show, he expands AfterLight (Part One), adding several sections and two more dancers.

Maliphant, best known for his recent work with Sylvie Guillem, has a distinctive style. He's a fluid choreographer, working closely with lighting designer Michael Hulls to create softly-lit dances, often with glowing blurs around his dancers' limbs. AfterLight suggested new territory for Maliphant. He can be a well-mannered choreographer, graceful but lacking bite. AfterLight had bolder imagery. The new material is less distinctive, but there's still a sense that Maliphant is exploring, trying new combinations of image and dance.

The original solo is still the strongest part of this work. A spotlight picks out Daniel Proietto's head – covered in a smooth cap, so at first you just see a curve that becomes a face, like the round faces emerging from overlapping circles in Nijinsky's drawings. Proietto spins on the spot, so smooth that he might actually be on a turntable. As he turns, he arches his back, body stretching into new whirling curves. In the lighting design, by Maliphant's regular collaborator Hulls, light and shadow puddle at Proietto's feet, patterns spreading slowly across the stage.

This original AfterLight is danced to a recording of Satie's Gnossiennes Nos 1 to 4. It makes this a long but hypnotic dance, deliberately monochrome, a set of variations on curling lines, light and shadow. Proietto's dancing is extraordinary: everything ripples and flows, taut and soft in the same instant.

The new sections are danced to new music by Andy Cowton. There are Eastern tinges to Cowton's mix of electronic and traditional instruments: chiming cymbals, a hint of Chinese influence in the plucked strings.

In the new material, Maliphant moves away from circles, but keeps to shadows. These later sections are danced behind a screen. Projected images, animations by Jan Urbanowski and James Chorley, cover the dance in dappled patterns.

Comments