The Rolling Stones are still associated with the 1960s, when their music was new and rebellious. Satisfaction, Peter Schaufuss's "dance concert" to recordings of the band, avoids retro styling but still manages to feel appallingly dated. This is a stunted, awkward show, its dancers hobbled by dire choreography and woeful design.
You have to blame Schaufuss for this mess. He's credited with dances, set, costumes and lighting design, so who else is there? The only thing he didn't do was the caricatures of the band, drawn in characteristic style by the cartoonist Gerald Scarfe.
The last time the Peter Schaufuss Ballet visited Britain, it came with Diana – The Princess, Schaufuss's balletic account of Diana, Princess of Wales, which never made it to the West End. This time he's starting in London.
The show opens with dancers in 1980s cropped tops and nasty headbands, bouncing about to a live recording of "Under My Thumb". It's not a good start, but things really plummet with "Sympathy for the Devil", which features a dancer in skimpy body tights, spiked hair and a wheelchair, being wheeled about by a suited man. Then the chorus come on, wearing bondage knickers, clumsy metal bras and angel wings.
I can't begin to tell you how unsexy this is. The costumes are like dilapidated fancy dress unearthed after years at the back of a cupboard. The steps are even more unflattering.
Schaufuss puts men and women en pointe, then sets them stumping across the stage in abrupt, repetitive movements that make their legs look shorter. Dancers bend double, buttocks thrust towards the audience, before stamping on the spot. Under this treatment, the most athletic physiques seem lumpy.
Slower songs lead to outbreaks of artiness. Zara Deakin, who once danced Diana for Schaufuss, folds herself around Sean Ganley in a series of strained duets. To "As Tears Go By", Josef Vesely emotes with a crate: sitting hunched on it, lying balanced on it, moving in brooding circles around it. By the end, they all have crates.
When not expressing their sensitive sides, the dancers stomp about in kneepads, do some heavy-footed jive or hurl themselves through awkwardly-paced ballet drill. The performers are hard-working and keen, but there is nothing to be done with these steps.
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