Hajer Gam spends an evening immersed in the world of dance
When you think about it, dance really is a funny concept. Buying tickets to watch people move their bodies to a beat doesn’t really seem that intuitive. However, I am convinced that good dancers somehow manage to elude the weirdness of it all and trick us into thinking that this is what the body is meant to do: move, jump, wiggle, wave and swing. Fast or slow, smooth or sharp.
Sadler’s Wells Sampled is a yearly event that takes place aiming to demonstrate how dance can encompass all of the above. It brings together a wide variety of dance genres in a two-hour show, along with several happenings throughout the building, from workshops to film projections and mini-shows. When I arrived at Sadler’s Wells, I heard a crowd cheering on the first floor. I headed there to see what was going on only to discover a lively (to say the least) breakdance battle between Soul Mavericks, a UK breakdance crew, and their Dutch counterparts, The Ruggeds, who ended the two-part show that evening. Judging by the dancers and the audience’s enthusiasm alike, I knew it was going to be a fun night.
And fun indeed it was. And exciting and cool. But also uplifting and inspiring. And invigorating and … I think I’m running out of adjectives.
The first performance was Outlier. Initially a classical ballet performed by the New York City Ballet, it was brought to stage for Sampled by Wayne McGregor’s contemporary dance company. Whilst the points that gave the ballet its original virtuosity were ruled out in McGregor’s interpretation, the performance still retained its fast paced, abstract qualities. The high-pitched violin concerto accompanying this abstract, but nonetheless demanding and sharp performance, provided the dancers with a contrasting background against which their bodies could suggest and evoke.
Contrastingly, the tango duo Julia Hiriart Urruty and Claudio Gonzalez brought two highly narrativised performances to the stage. Their first piece told the story of a man reminiscing about his deceased wife, having one final dance before he let the memory of her slip out of his grasp, while the second story took the audience on a tour of tango through the decades. In demonstrating great mastery of their craft, Urruty and Gonzalàlez brought everything they had to the stage: precision, rigor, passion, charm – and of course, sensuality.
The two BBC Young Dancer of the Year 2015 co-finalists, Vidya Patel and Connor Scott, were also enchanting, performing Khoj (The Search) and Get Up respectively. In Khoj, Patel shared the stage with dance partner Jaina Modasia. With great deftness and grace, they enthralled the audience with their red dresses that whirled to the live music against a blue backdrop. At the end, I heard two women sitting behind me gasp, ‘That was AMAZING’, and I couldn’t have agreed with them more. As for Get up, it totally energised the room. Scott’s passion definitely showed throughout the 5-minute self-choreographed solo piece. There was just one flaw: it felt far too short and left us all wanting more.
The evening ended with light, humorous performances by The Ruggeds and 7 Fingers. The Ruggeds’ energy was especially infectious and seemed to galvanise the room. I for one had to fight the urge to get up on my feet and dance.
Although a last-minute injury in the Northern Ballet led to the cancellation of their scheduled piece, 1984, Zenaida Yanowsky’s performance of the classical (and legendary) ballet solo, The Dying Swan, made up for it and allowed for a wonderful classical interlude in the evening.
In a nutshell, Sadler’s Wells Sampled is fun and varied, and can appeal to all ages and backgrounds; it really is for everyone. I even caught sight of a baby in the audience wearing sound-blocking headphones and still enjoying the performances. It was certainly the recipe for an excellent evening.
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Featured Image Credits: Andrew Lang, Belinda Lawley, and Guy Levy