Our 5 star review in The Evening Standard of “The Rodin Project” at Sadler’s Wells 5 February 2012
The Rodin Project / Russell Maliphant Company – review
6 Feb 2012
Russell Maliphant’s new work opens, appropriately enough given the artist who inspired it, like a fin de siècle fantasy of classical Greece.
In a sumptuously sleazy atelier, hung with fabrics, six figures arrange themselves on what looks like a huge bedsheet flung across a mountainous heap of cushions. The symbiotically responsive glow of Michael Hulls’s lighting is already starting to fragment their bodies, isolating muscles, limbs and lines of tension in a way that gets more aggressive as the dance evolves.
The men are dressed like fighting slaves in diaper-loincloths, and the women like racy priestesses. As Alexander Zekke’s specially commissioned cello score slowly yearns for something it can never quite place, they model as athletes and wrestlers, sirens and waterbearers.
Tommy Franzén, a human rubber ball recently seen in Some Like It Hip Hop, engages Tomasin Gülgeç in a circling, capoeira-style contest just after being puppeteered across the stage by Jenny White, using rods of the sort on which sculptors impale clay limbs to hold them in place. The sublimation of piercing and control, as coldly erotic as it is beautiful, would have thrilled the heart of J G Ballard.
At the start of the second part the clothes are modern and the fabrics stripped away, revealing metal walls and ramps, like a brutalist playground in a nursery school for free runners. The dancers hang, slide, tumble and contort themselves, while the choreography shapes a language of delight from a vocabulary of torment.
With The Rodin Project, Maliphant has made something formal enough to satisfy the Académie, and sexy as (the Gates of) Hell.
Returns in October (0844 412 4300, sadlerswells.com)
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