Saturday, 20 November 2021

Stage: The struggle is real

dir Botis Seva
costumes Ryan Dawson-Laight
lighting Tom Visser
music Torben Lars Sylvest
with Jordan Douglas, Shangomola Edunjobi, Joshua Nash, Ezra Owen, Hayleigh Sellors, Victoria Shulungu, Naima Souhair
Sadler's Wells • 19-20.Nov.21

A staggeringly intense expression of emotions, this dance piece by Botis Seva leaves the audience both shaken and exhilarated. It unfolds as a carefully assembled explosion of movement, light and sound, reverberating with the helpless feeling that the world around us is a dangerous place. But it's also infused with the hopefulness that comes with love, acceptance and mutual support. It's a proper stunner that demands a lot of both the dancers and the audience.

Emerging from the darkness are seven performers with their heads covered in hoods. They often face upstage, so seem eerily anonymous as they move in ways that look physically taxing, precisely in tune with each other as the choreography cleverly uses echoing and mirroring to force the eye across the stage. Along with a churning score that features snippets of voices, the lighting is integral to this as well, isolating people, cutting them out of the group, using the inky blackness as effectively as a spotlight.

As the programme continues, events take place that are heart-stopping in the way they're performed, with the dancers spiralling into situations that are reminiscent of street protests, storming the capital and rioting in prison. There are also quiet moments of more positive interaction. And along the way, a series of chilling deaths are brilliantly performed in inevitable slow-motion. Seva's choreography is kinetic and razor sharp, constantly surprising in the way it pushes the dancers to their limits.

The movement is seriously impressive, simply because it's so complex and difficult, punctuated by the pulsing soundscape and light design. But it's the way the emotions churn up throughout the piece that pulls the audience in deeply. So as the dancers shed pieces of clothing, or emerge with props that are inventive and even witty, we become invested in a depiction of human resilience in times of violence, illness or domestic turmoil. So at the end, when they finally lose their hoods and reveal their faces, we see ourselves on stage with them.

Rehearsal photos by Camilla Greenwell • 19.Nov.21

No comments: