Ballet British Columbia, Sadler’s Wells, review: Gorgeous energy to the triple bill

The programme of works by female choreographers, includes a superb piece by star choreographer Crystal Pite

Zo Anderson
Wednesday 07 March 2018 13:02
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The company is much more contemporary than classical, with a focus on new works and collaborations
The company is much more contemporary than classical, with a focus on new works and collaborations

There’s a gorgeous energy about Ballet British Columbia’s triple bill, touring the UK this month. The programme includes a superb work by star choreographer Crystal Pite, but it’s also a fine introduction to a smart, very contemporary company. The dancers have both individuality and shared muscular strength, powering through a programme of works by female choreographers.

Based in Vancouver, and directed by Emily Molnar since 2009, Ballet BC is much more contemporary than classical, with a focus on new works and collaborations. In Molnar’s own 16 + a room, which opens this programme, the women wear pointe shoes, but less for intricate footwork than for increased speed. Even on pointe, they move with weighted power.

Dressed in dark, rumpled costumes by Kate Burrows, the 13 dancers run and slide and grapple, diving fearlessly into lifts and turns. They sprint on and slide, wide-legged, whip through turns or leap into the air, stiff-legged. “This is a beginning” reads a sign carried by one dancer. “This is not the end” reads another, even as the curtain falls.

Pite, a former Ballet BC dancer, made her first professional work for the company before going on to international success. Solo Echo is an intimate, wintry piece danced to Brahms cello sonatas. A soloist dips and squirms through flowing shapes, sinking to the floor and picking himself up again, abs first. Others run on and freeze, stopping dead in sprint positions, fanned out across the stage. Jay Gower Taylor’s set is bare, dressed only with falling snow.

It’s a dance full of impulses and reactions, introspective in tone, suggesting a need for both community and independence. Movement is interrupted, recoiling on itself and surging forward again. Pite arranges her seven dancers in curving lines; when one falls, shock waves ripple back through the others. Soloists are pushed away and return, patterns forming and reforming around them. Some of the gestures look like conversation. Two opposed groups face each other, with a chattering rhythm when the leaders point to faces, hips and hands. Like the music, Solo Echo is both spare and lush.

Bill, by Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar, brings on the full company for an uptempo finale. To a pulsing score by Ori Lichtick. Dancers in brightly coloured unitards stomp and strut, twitching and shimmying in a group ritual.

Until 7 March (danceconsortium.com)

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