How do you describe the undescribable? Sitting here looking at an empty screen, I have to say it’s really difficult. So before I start, let me recommend you stop reading this and just get yourself to Sadler’s Wells as soon as possible to see the Compagnie DCA/Philippe Decouflé‘s “Contact”.
Philippe Decouflé is quite rightly one of France’s most highly rated choreographers, with a reputation for merging many styles in his highly theatrical productions. This is my first experience of his work and with “Contact”, as well as modern dance, you will find ballet, circus, magic and even the odd sprinkling of Hollywood in this gem of a show – which is very loosely based on the story of Faust (An original German story in which a scholar who is highly successful yet dissatisfied with his life, makes a pact with the Devil, exchanging his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures).
Following an introduction by Stéphane and Meritxell – where we got to practice our applause, laughing, shocked and pity faces, Meritxel came up with an awesome suggestion for anyone that really, really needs to use their mobile during the performance and, then the action kicked off in fine style with all the performers – Nosfell, Pierre Le Bourgeois, Christophe Salengro, Clemance Galliard, Stephane Chivot, Eric Martin, Flavien Bernezet, Sean Patrick Mombruno, Meritxell Checca Esteban, Violette Wanty, Julien Ferranti, Ioannis Michos, Lisa Robert and Suzanne Soler – coming on to slowly fill the stage with sound, movement and video. Once started the show never really paused for a moment as we moved through the story at breakneck speed. As well as dance, we had hypnotism, done in the most unusual way possible, we some beautiful work on the Aerial Strap and rope which left the audience gasping wonder at the amazing spectacle.
All in all, “Contact” is guaranteed to challenge everything you thought you knew about modern dance, in fact it challenges everything you thought you knew about everything. For example, what is gender and how fluid can it be? There is nothing to stop a man wearing, or indeed dancing, in a dress or for that matter high heels – though I have tried it and could barely walk in the things let alone dance. Nor, do all male dancers need to be a tall, bronzed, muscled adonis, or even just a dancer as this multi-talented company dance, sing, act, play musical instruments and work video cameras in the performance of their art.
So, nearly two hours after entering Sadler’s what did I feel about my experience of “Contact”? I have to be honest and say I don’t know. I loved the music, which was really eclectic and always appropriate to the dancing/action on the stage. I thought some of the interludes between dancing were a little long but still added to the overall experience (and also gave the dancers a much needed pause). At the end, I’m not sure I understood every nuance of the story – but I had experienced a change in my perceptions of what modern dance should be, and had had a thoroughly entertaining and mesmerising time doing it.
Review by Terry Eastham
CONTACT is the culmination of Decouflé’s trademark cinematographic prowess and his fragmented sense of trickery and illusion, expressed through a troupe of sixteen dancers, actors, singers and musicians.
A creator of dreamlike performances, Decouflé finds inspiration in both high and popular culture and challenges expectations with the use of the burlesque and the bizarre. In CONTACT, he rewrites what the musical means, telling a tale of human – and sometimes superhuman passions – borrowing from cabarets, musicals and Bollywood.
Philippe Decouflé Company DCA
Sadler’s Wells, EC1R
Tuesday 16th to Thursday 18th June 2015
Performances: Tue – Thu at 7.30pm
Tickets: £12 – £32
Ticket office: 0844 412 4300 / www.sadlerswells.com
Wednesday 17th June 2015