Sunday 28 May 2023

Dance: Adapting and transcending

State Shift
by The Ruggeds
choreo Roy Overdijk, Shailesh Bahoran, Virgil 'Skychief' Dey, Lee Demierre
performers Lee Demierre, Virgil 'Skychief' Dey, Roy Overdijk
music Jessy 'Boi Beige' Kemper, Dominique Vleeshouwers
design Ido Koppenaal, Niek Traa
Sadler's Wells, London • 26-27.May.23

With their distinctive mix of hip hop and breaking, the Netherlands-based collective The Ruggeds assembles a visceral programme of dance, music, film and eye-catching stagecraft. Their extraordinary physicality requires enormous strength and balance, as the choreography plays with ideas of weight and perspective. Consisting of two pieces with musical bridge, State Shift is about how humans adapt to and transcend their environment.

For Waterbrothers, a circle on the stage is set beneath a huge nest of light rods as dancers Roy Overdijk and Lee Demierre move with an uncanny liquidity. Remaining close to the floor, they spiral around the space as if pushed by currents, sometimes synchronised but often echoing or challenging each other, taking turns to lead as the movements become bigger, more upright and airborne. And when they touch or collide, it's like a jolt of electricity.

Then in Turns, Virgil 'Skychief' Dey performs a solo that begins tentatively, as he crawls or walks around the floorspace avoiding the lights as they fall from the sky, forming a shimmering wall around him. His movements reflect an exploration of this setting, tracing the way he begins to take charge of his surroundings, gaining confidence and building to some astonishing displays of dexterity, speed and strength.

Both pieces are accompanied by live music performed by the talented Jessy 'Boi Beige' Kemper, who also appears live on-stage between the two segments, emerging from shadows. His work has the same improvisational feel as the dancers, blending a range of rhythms and musical styles into a pulsing club-like vibe.

At the end of the curtain call, Overdijk introduces two short films that both document and expand on Waterbrothers and Turns. These are skilfully shot and edited, placing the dancers in a variety of spectacular real-world spaces as they perform in the air, underwater, on ice and in crowded streets. They're just a few minutes long, but they add terrific textures of meaning to the live performances.

For details, visit SADLER'S WELLS >

photos by Emile Vrolijk • 26.May.23

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