Sylvie Guillem: 6000 Miles Away, Sadler's Wells, London
Friday 08 July 2011
Some of dance's biggest names are brought together in 6000 Miles Away: superballerina Sylvie Guillem and choreographers William Forsythe, Jirí Kyliá* and Mats Ek. Guillem has an impressive commitment to new choreography, her taste often running to quiet, even grungy, contemporary work. Here, there's an intriguing contradiction between low-key dance and the splash of a major star.
The show is named for Japan, hit by disaster while Guillem was preparing this evening; an extra fundraising performance being added to the sold-out premiere run at Sadler's Wells. The title is the only reference to these events.
In 1987, William Forsythe created the lead role of In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated for the young Guillem. Still his best-known mainstream work, its explosive, slamming steps showed off her spectacular technique. The new Rearray is much calmer, but still highlights her cool intelligence.
Guillem and the Paris Opéra Ballet's Nicolas Le Riche twist through mercurial changes of direction. Movement starts in a curving arm, wriggles through the torso, then breaks off as the legs do something completely different. It's a cerebral, detached work; the dancers follow their own trains of thought, in no hurry to go anywhere in particular, the starry cast giving it extra force. Their movements are brilliantly articulate, a fluid Le Riche against the more nervy, electric Guillem.
Our star doesn't appear in 27'52", the revival of an inconsequential Jirí Kyliá* work. Kenta Kojiri and Aurélie Cayla wander and wind around each other, folding the floor cloth over themselves. On his shoulders, back to the audience, she discards her red top and dances the rest bare-breasted.
Mats Ek is another long-term collaborator. His new Bye, danced to a Beethoven piano sonata, is unexpectedly larky. On a narrow film screen, we see a glimpse of Guillem. She reaches up – and hands grasp the top of the screen as the real dancer emerges. The film is sometimes her reflection, sometimes a doorway through which others peer – including a dog – to see what she's up to.
Taking off her dowdy cardigan, she starts to dance with more scope: when she swings a leg up into a high extension, there's a purr from an audience that knows (and loves) Sylvie's six o'clock legs.
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