Saturday 18 November 2023

Dance: Sowing the seeds of love

Emanuel Gat Dance
choreography & lighting Emanuel Gat
with Eglantine Bart, Tara Dalli, Noé Girard, Nikoline Due Iversen, Gilad Jerusalmy, Péter Juhasz, Michael Loehr, Emma Mouton, Rindra Rasoaveloson, Abel Rojo Pupo, Karolina Szymura, Sara Wilhelmsson
music Tears For Fears
costumes Thomas Bradley, Wim Muyllaert
Sadler's Wells, London • 17-18.Nov.23 ★★★

Emanuel Gat takes such a loose approach to choreography that this show can't help but be entertaining, especially for fans of the 1980s pop band Tears For Fears, whose songs underscore the show. Performers run around the stage with abandon, using improvisational techniques that stretch their muscled bodies in expressive directions either along with the music or in complete silence. But while it's visually impressive, and the dancers are seriously talented, there's a nagging sense that the show is essentially pointless.

The dancers appear on stage one by one, in somewhat indulgent fashion dressed colourfully and individualistically in what seem to be bunched up sheets and curtains. These look very cool, but are perhaps impractical for physical movement, so it makes sense that costumes are shed layer by layer until a joyful number later on in which everyone is skipping around in underpants. This finally allows us to see the sheer strength these performers are deploying to strike these various controlled poses, which sometimes evoke children at play or contestants in a voguing ball. 

Gat describes the show as an invitation "to come and join a community of individuals, as they make their way along constantly changing landscapes". Indeed, there is the strong sense here of how people come together and maintain their identities in a company, performing in unison while still having their own individual flourishes. Even so, the approach never taps into the deeper emotions, leaving the audience impressed but unmoved.

While all of it is eye-catching and often sexy, only a few numbers manage to find a more resonant impact. The most powerful piece is a pas de deux between two men who create a vivid tension that pushes and pulls between them. And several solos are performed with astonishing physicality and a hint of internal emotion. But most of this feels rather random, even if it's always beautiful.
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photos by Julia Gat • 17.Nov.23

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