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Skid by Damien Jalet and SAABA by Sharon Eyal

Skid is a contemporary dance popular hit as well as being both innovative and significant. Choreographed by Damien Jalet and performed at Sadler’s by Goteborgs Operans Danskompani, Sweden’s daring and international contemporary dance company, the work mesmerises and intrigues.

SKID. Credit Lennart Sjoberg.
SKID. Credit Lennart Sjoberg.

Brilliantly chilly lighting in black and white by lighting designer, Joakim Brink, confuses in Skid’s opening moments. Is this a film or real life? It’s real. The stage has been transformed into an icy-looking slope slanted at a stunning 34° angle.

It’s on this slope the Swedish company of accomplished dancers must exert skill and strength to cling and tumble and fall, creating patterns and forming connections before repeatedly falling into the dark. To appear over the top of the slope again.

Humans are described in poignant, naked vulnerability. Mythological figures of superhuman strength are summonsed as is the amazement of tiny insects clinging to life in the immensity of utterly inhospitable conditions.

Jalet was inspired to create this work from witnessing the Onbashira ritual in Japan, in which 16 trees growing close to mountain peaks are cut down and dangerously ridden down the mountains to stand as protectors at local shrines.

Herculean levels of labour and risk, freezing icy surfaces (doubtless familiar in life to this Swedish company), the struggles of daily life, the perpetual cycle of birth and death are all described. Accompanied by a constant, connecting heartbeat rhythm repeated unobtrusively in the electronic music by Christian Fennesz and Marihiko Hara.

This is a work likely rewarding repeated viewing, revealing patterns and motifs missed in what is undoubtedly a stunning, first impression.

Skid is a must-see work for all who are interested in contemporary dance.

Saaba is choreographed by Sharon Eyal, an Associate Artist at Sadler’s Wells. This piece promises much at first with its intriguing distortion of familiar classical dance movements, extended limbs moving as if they are pincers. Miguel Duarte is outstanding in his role.

The skill and stamina of the entire company is remarkable in this piece. The tension created by continuous use throughout of barefoot en pointe dancing but without the pointe shoes, communicates itself to the comfortably seated audience.

One dancer has referred to performing Eyal’s work as,’ like painful torture… painful ecstasy.’

The contrast between the different genders performing the same gestures was also fascinating.

Ultimately however, despite the stunning dancing, this work was too repetitive and engagement wandered.

At the end of the show on opening night the Sadler’s audience gave an appreciative, extended standing ovation. Skid, in particular, is not to be missed.

4 stars

Review by Marian Kennedy

Skid
The smash hit Skid, with a dance floor tilted at 34°, challenges the dancers beyond gravity. At times epic, dangerous, humorous or moving, Skid creates a new landscape of physical possibilities.

SAABA
Mesmerising dance meets strong attitude in the creations of Sharon Eyal. Her distinctive style has a hypnotic, pulsating power.

Eyal collaborates with Dior’s Creative Director Maria Grazia Chiuri for the costume design. The duo has collaborated several times before, primarily in Dior’s seasonal fashion collections.

GöteborgsOperans Danskompani
Skid by Damien Jalet and SAABA by Sharon Eyal
11 – 13 May 2023
https://www.sadlerswells.com/

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