Home » London Dance » Review – Sasha Waltz and Guests : Sacre at Sadler’s Wells from 11th to 13th November 2015

Review – Sasha Waltz and Guests : Sacre at Sadler’s Wells from 11th to 13th November 2015

Sasha Waltz & GuestsScène d'AmourEmanuela Montanari, Antonino Sutera

Photo by Bernd Uhlig

Based in Berlin, Sasha Waltz & Guests are known for developing highly original choreographic musical theatre performances. They have collaborated with more than 250 artists and ensembles from 25 countries on nearly 20 productions since being founded in 1993. To mark the hundredth anniversary of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Sasha Waltz premiered her own vision of the piece in 2013.  It was this vision entitled Sacre which  was  presented at Sadler’s Wells as part of a three-part evening, together with Sasha Waltz’ choreographies of Scéne d’Amour (from Romeo and Juliet) with music by Berloiz, and Debussy’s L’Après-midi d’un faune.

Sasha Waltz is one of most acclaimed and respected choreographers in Europe and there was plenty of anticipation about her dance company performing a mixed bill at Sadler’s Wells. All the pieces involved music which is familiar from the concert halls, the first piece was based on Debussy’s L’après-midi d’un faune, the second piece is Scene d’Amour taken from Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliette and finally Stravinsky’s Sacre du Printemps.

Sasha Waltz & GuestsL'Apres-midi d'un Faune

 Photo by Bernd Uhlig

Waltz’s Faun is played out on a brightly coloured almost impressionist set with a cast in equally brightly coloured  tight singlets. The lingering sensuality of the music is replicated by the dance with groups of dancers resembling bathers enjoying nature. The entrancing rhythm and flow of the movement only briefly punctuated by moments of frenzy that die away quickly.

Sasha Waltz & GuestsScène d'AmourEmanuela Montanari, Antonino Sutera

 Photo by Bernd Uhlig

The theme of sensual love was taken up in Scène d’ Amour which followed the interactions of the two dancers, after the tender embraces, love then becomes a game with the occasional disagreement leading to emotional reconnections. Both the dancers bought the lyricism of the music into the dance which was almost classical ballet at times. After a series of sad farewells, the female dancer finally leaves the stage to leave the male dancer in a crumpled heap.


 Photo by Bernd Uhlig

If the first part of the programme was a testament to the finer elements of love, the beginning of Sacre left us no doubt that more primal emotions were now appearing. The beginning of Stravinsky’s score led to a series of movements from the large cast, the expression is one of uncontrolled passions that lead to groups of male and females racing almost out of control. The different genders face each other in a primeval dance that is less love and attraction but more hunter and prey, this image  finds expression when the victims are carried off by their captors. The carnal carnival reaches its climax when the music stops and a short orgy ensues before everyone lies back in exhaustion. The symbolism gradually  changes into a type of pagan religious ceremony, women are held in a crucifixion pose by the men before the final ‘sacrificial’ dance. One of the dancers clad out in purple is the ‘chosen one’ both revered and ostracised by community of dancers. She finally enters her role with wild abandon, screaming and stripping naked before her final collapse. A large point appears in the middle of the stage to illustrate that the ‘rites of spring’ often finish with a sacrificial victim.

Although this performance was not going to achieve the notoriety of the first performance of The Rites of Spring in Paris in 1913, it does play with some of the important themes of the original. For all our so-called civilised behaviour, animal passions are not far below the surface. Sasha Waltz and her company through the medium of dance reminds us that those passions are never defeated but remain part of us all. Sasha Waltz is one of those choreographers that challenges her dancers and her audience, whilst we  may be familiar with the lyrical beauty and form of modern dancers, rarely are dancers able to express their physical strength, power and aggression in such a basic way. This led to an extraordinary and powerful performance that captivated the attention of  the  Sadler’s Wells audience.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

If you would like further information or book tickets, visit the Sadler’s Wells website here

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