A real mixture of contemporary and Khattak influences brought together Anand Bhatt’s mixed bill at Sadler’s Wells Lilian Baylis Studio in this week’s Wild Card performance. An evening of energetic dancers, intriguing solos and live music made for a really entertaining evening. Bhatt is a charity fundraiser and Bollywood dancer with a real appreciation for contemporary dance. For this event he brought together six very different choreographers including Lewis Major, Marcos Morau and Mikael Riviere, in collaboration with Navala Chaudhari, Karima El Amrani and Victoria Hoyland. The compère for the evening was John Berkavitch, who has known Bhatt since childhood; he introduced each performance and shared some of his poetry with the audience, making us laugh and contemplate the dances we were seeing.

Appel © Sadler's Wells
Appel
© Sadler's Wells

The first performance, titled Glasshouses, was by Australian choreographer Lewis Major. The lights were down low and at first I found it hard to make out how many dancers were on stage, as they were all clumped together and moving as one, making it hard to identify where one person began and the other ended. As the lights lifted, seven dancers were revealed in a tight clump, rocking from side to side. Major’s choreography was about reflecting on what happens when humanity and innocence are exploited. As individuals, the strength and power of the dancers was incredible. One dancer would travel through the space with electric speed, hitting the floor and recovering from the fall in an instant. I really enjoyed how energised the dancers were, which made it exciting to watch. It made me think: what are they going to do next? Where will they go and how will this end?

The next performance was very different. Portland is a solo work that expresses how powerful contemplation can be, and how we act as witnesses to events happening around us. Choreographed by Marcus Morau and danced by Lali Ayguadé, with a simple set of a white square on the floor and a flag of the United States of America, this solo was intriguing. At the beginning, there was a moment that felt slightly awkward; as the music began the audience was face with an empty set, which made me wonder whether any dancers were going to enter the space at all. After some time Ayguadé entered, walking into the space casually, and dressed in grey. Then she began to move: I have not seen anyone move in this way before. Ayguadé had an intriguing style of movement: staccato isolations, rapid flicks and twitches, contrasted with fluid travelling across the floor that would suddenly changed into a rapid sequence, blurring her pathways and lines.

This solo was followed by a highly energised duet, titled Appel. Choreographed by Mikael Riviere, in collaboration with Navala Chaudhari, this duet showed how dancers communicate with a musician. Jason Kalidas played the Bansuri flute and Tabla drums live on stage, while two dancers, Mireia Piñol and Chris Knight, delivered a spontaneous and exciting performance. This clarified the dancer’s relationship to Kalidas’ music through their movement, which was influenced by martial arts, contemporary dance and even break-dancing. The movement style of both dancers really showcased their strength and flexibility, as they flew across the floor through head stands, rolls and flips. The music built in excitement, and having the live musician on stage really created an exciting atmosphere in the theatre. As the music increased in intensity and sound, so did the movement. The dancers movement became bigger, stronger and more powerful throughout the piece.

The final performance of the evening was an intriguing duet, titled We are Made of Stories, choreographed by Karima El Amrani and Victoria Hoyland. The duet was danced by Karima El Amrani and Diane Malet with music by Joel Harris. The inspiration for this dance came from the two choreographers and composer sitting down together and reflecting on a specific time in their lives. The two dancers moved beautifully together with a sensitivity and, at times, delicateness, that projected an emotional atmosphere to the audience. At first both dancers were contained, dancing close together and not really breaking away from each other. It seemed like I was watching something rather sentimental and meaningful to both the choreographers and performances.

I really enjoyed the evening; it was interesting to see such an eclectic mix of choreography, perfect for anyone looking for something different. Each performance gave something different to the audience, which was why the performance felt so exciting and different for me. The Wild Card performances at the Sadler’s Wells: Lilan Baylis Studio are certainly worth seeing to discover new choreographers and see a great mix of dance styles that you may not have seen before.

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