Tuesday, 24 June 2014


4D (Matter/ Pure/ Sin/ Faun), Eastman, Sadler's Wells - reviewed on 23rd June

Four reworked duets by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui made for an extremely enjoyable and diverse evening as part of Sadler's Sampled.
In Matter, Kazutomi Kozuki became all manner of props for his partner (Guro Nagelhus Schia) - from moulding his hands to the shape of high heels and moving with her feet as she walked, to being an apple to eat and a shower hose. As the couple went to bed, my interpretation was that Kozuki represented Nagelhus Schia's everything, so much so that he became a part of all that she did. (Though equally it could have been a meditation on solitude and finding comfort in inanimate objects rather than human contact.)
This was followed by a film of a Japanese marketplace, which was utterly mesmeric in its power. As Kozuki walked along and seemed to interact with the footage (for example waving at people to the left as the camera turned left), I felt transported to the foreign place and its sea of faces and activities. It was an experience that I didn't understand logically, but felt very strongly emotionally.
The second work, Pure, commenced with a fascinating fluidly-moving duet full of interesting lifts and holds. Then left alone, the female dancer (Nagelhus Schia again) seemed in so much pain that it was difficult for her to express. Picking up a pen and dipping it in ink, she was unable to write her frustrations anywhere except on her body, with brutal strokes creating a blotchy black mess on both costume and skin.
Returning to the scene, her partner (Vebjørn Sundby) attempted to wipe away the marks with a cloth. His reassuring movements both countered and comforted Nagelhus Schia but eventually he too became covered in black ink and dragged into despair.
I felt less connected to the two works after the interval - Faun, a woodland-set tribute to Sergei Diaghilev, and Sin, an aggressive battle duet with resulting remorse - though both had interesting moments. The evening also included the screening of Valtari, a music video with relatively mediocre choreography by Cherkaoui, and a superb onstage band who played gorgeous music to accompany much of the live dancing.
All in all, 4D was a performance combining emotionally powerful and engaging movement, brilliant dancers and excellent music, and one I'm very glad not to have missed.
Here is the show's trailer, which does better justice to the beauty of Cherkaoui's choreography:

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