Only a fool would say that a dance piece must adhere to a set pattern of rules in order to be considered worthy of being called art. The reality is that, as with theatre, there are many types of dance and the artistic team at Sadler’s Wells have made a career of bringing them to a discerning public. As they know, sometimes the best dance programmes consist of a fusion of styles and the latest production to hit the Islington showplace is Les 7 doigts de la main (The 7 Fingers) – Triptyque. Described as a triple bill of dance and circus, Triptyque is so much more than that with its three distinct pieces embracing dance, acrobatics and the ability to use the usual in an unusual way spectacularly.
Now, I am a man who likes his dance pieces to have a definite story that I can follow and whilst there is not necessarily a story, the three pieces do have a common theme running through them – that of working with and defying gravity. The opening piece Anne and Samuel developed in collaboration with Choreographer Marie Chouinard is a lovely two handed dance that gives each dancer a chance to express their emotions as they move through the dance, from bondage to ultimate freedom. The most unusual aspect of this quite emotive dance is that both the performers use crutches throughout. I can’t really explain why or how well the addition of the crutches works but believe me it does as the crutch supports their weight, shapes their bodies and turn into extensions of the performers’ arms adding an unexpected additional layer to the piece.
The next piece Variations 9.81 Choreographed by Victor Quijada was an amazing piece of dance and acrobatics. Using dozens of movable hand balancing canes, the dancers tell a story of what happens when you can’t trust gravity to do its job. This was totally jaw-dropping in its inception and performance and there were times when the movement was so well synchronised with the music that it really looked as if the dancers were controlling the instruments as they glided across the performing space.
After the interval, the final piece was Nocturnes by choreographer Marcos Morau and if Variations 9.81 was breathtaking, Nocturnes completely blew me away. The story follows a young tired girl heading to bed. As she moves from wide awake to the world of the sleeper, her imagination begins to take over and unexpected things happen in her bedroom. This is a fantastic piece that really brings together awesome dance with superb circus skills, some of which – such as the three ropes – I’ve never seen before. It’s really difficult to put into words how amazing this was, and I can’t even start to talk about the floating bed and the way it was used as an extra member of the dance troupe. But I can say, this was entertainment in its purist form and my eyes never left the stage once during this dance. And it wasn’t just for the circus elements, the choreography itself was amazing with the dancers appearing to be so closely linked that they seemed to move as one individual.
So, to sum up, I had a rotten journey getting to Sadler’s, the show started nearly half an hour late and, let’s be honest, I wasn’t really sure Les 7 doigts de la main – Triptyque was going to be my sort of thing – I’m not that keen on circuses. But two hours after it started I left the theatre my hands raw from the clapping, my voice hoarse from the cheering. Les 7 doigts de la main – Triptyque was superb in every way. I loved every second and although it was on the most limited of runs, if it is on again I would recommend everyone go along to see it and enjoy it just as much as myself and the rest of the audience did. This really was a magical fusion of dance and circus that worked on every single level.
Review by Terry Eastham
Contemporary circus trailblazers The 7 Fingers (Les 7 doigts de la main) present a triple bill of dance and circus, a collaboration with some of the world’s most cutting-edge contemporary choreographers – Marie Chouinard, Victor Quijada and Marcos Morau.
The first piece, a duet directed by Chouinard, focuses on gravity and its effects on the movement of the body. Next, Quijada presents a 30-minute hand-balancing quintet, and the final piece by Morau places a definite emphasis on circus, as eight artists free themselves of both internal and physical obstacles.
Hailing from Québec, renowned as the home of the modern circus discipline, The 7 Fingers (Les 7 Doigts de la Main) is one of the world’s most inventive contemporary circus companies. After success with Sequence 8 and TRACES, the company returns to Sadler’s Wells with the UK premiere of TRIPTYQUE, a new triple bill of dance and circus on 1 & 2 April 2016.
Co-produced by Sadler’s Wells, TRIPTYQUE is a collaboration with some of the world’s most cutting-edge contemporary choreographers; Marie Chouinard (bODY_rEMIX/ gOLDBERG_vARIATIONS), Victor Quijada (RUBBERBANDance) and Marcos Morau (La Veronal). This marks the first time the company has worked with outside choreographers for the creation of a new show.
The show is directed by Samuel Tétreault, co-Founder and co-Artistic Director of The 7 Fingers, who performs in all three pieces.
TRIPTYQUE is a Sadler’s Wells co-production.
Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R
1st and 2nd April 2016