Sadler’s Wells is regarded by most right-minded individuals as the home of contemporary dance and this week they have an amazing example of the art of dance with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui & Yabin Wang’ “Genesis 生长”.
The curtains pulled back to reveal the huge stage dominated by a series of clear perspex boxes in the centre. Slowly, each of the performers – dressed in white lab coats and masks – started weaving their way through the boxes counting out loud as they did so. This movement built and grew and the boxes separated and were moved around the stage, forming a bridge here, an observation point there, a prison on this side and an escape route on the other. Over the course of the hour and a half show, various scenes were played out by the dancers – accompanied by some amazing live music – each complete in its own right but also linked to the scene either side to provide an overview of the relationship between humanity and the rest of the world.
So, what to say about “Genesis 生长”? In dance, as with a play, I am happiest if there is a clear story being told with a narrative that starts at point A and ends at point Z, missing few letters out on the way. However, “Genesis 生长” isn’t that type of show. Whilst there are connections between each scene, there is no obvious story being told and it is up to the audience to interpret what they have witnessed. I have to say that going by the animated discussions taking place as people left the auditorium, the audience were happy to do this.
Overall, “Genesis 生长” was an amazing piece of work with some truly wonderful choreography brought to life by amazing dancers – Elias Lazaridis, Li Chao, Yin Fang, Kazutomi “Tsuki” Kozuki, Johnny Lloyd and, making her London stage debut, Yabin Wang – who took dancing to a new level in their interpretation of the various scenes. There were a couple that really grabbed my attention and held it spellbound. The first was the almost hypnotic scene with crystal balls. Starting with just one dancer moving one ball around and building until all of the dancers were involved and the crystal balls seemed to be moving almost by themselves at times. This was a truly amazing scene that I can still see in my head whilst typing this.
The music by composer Olga Wojceichowska was a wonderfully eclectic mix of styles with influences from European and US music added to the traditional sounding Chinese music to provide a wonderful backing to the dancing. Special credit goes to Pianist Barbara “Basia” Drazkowska and Mridangist Manjunath ‘Manju’ B Chandramouli sitting in their own perspex boxes at the back of the stage delivering really great sound for the dancers and audience alike.
In addition to the dancers and musicians, this is a show where the set, lighting and costumes really are a major part of the show and Liu Kedong, Willy Cessa and Quing Li respectively should receive applause for their work. The interaction of the perspex boxes with the dancers and the lighting – providing wonderful shadows and reflections around the stage – really highlighted the pieces and made the entire show utterly mesmerising from start to finish.
So, to sum up, “Genesis 生长” is not a simple dance production with a nice easy story to follow from start to finish. It is a complex piece of superbly choreographed dance that by the use of fabulous music and truly awesome dancers, takes the audience on a journey through their own imagination leaving them breathless at the final curtain call.
Review by Terry Eastham
Yabin Studio & Eastman / Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
Monday 28th & Tuesday 29th September 2015
Commissioned by Yabin Studio, choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and produced by Yabin Studio and Eastman
Acclaimed contemporary dancer and choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and leading Chinese dance artist Yabin Wang bring the UK premiere of their new work, GENESIS 生长 to Sadler’s Wells on 28 & 29 September 2015.
The first dance work to have been commissioned from a European choreographer by a dance artist working in mainland China, GENESIS生长 had its World Premiere at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing in 2013, and has since toured throughout Europe. Set to live music with roots in Africa, India, Japan, China and Poland, GENESIS生长 is a show about origin. We are born and then we die, and in the meantime we undergo constant testing and increasing estrangement from the natural world.
The production translates philosophical ideas about life, the pressures imposed on us by society to perform and conform, into beautiful sequences of movement in which east and west, life and death, come together.
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui – Genesis – Sadler’s Soundbites
GENESIS生长 marks the first London appearance of Yabin Wang. She will dance alongside six other dancers, three from Eastman and three from Yabin Studio, her company. It features an electronic score by composer Olga Wojciechowska, set designs by Liu Kedong and costume design by Li Quing.
Tuesday 29th September 2015