With a cat walk swagger six dancers strut across the stage, long legs extended up on demi pointe. In a febrile mass, they go around and around; restless, relentless. Sometimes they prowl; sometimes they are still like lean trees with branches shifting in a soft breeze. In the opening moments their bodies are silhouetted, the curve of the spines etched against the light.

L-E-V <i>Love Chapter 2</i> © André Le Corre
L-E-V Love Chapter 2
© André Le Corre

Love Chapter 2 is the second piece in Sharon Eyal's Love Cycle. It's predecessor OCD Love premiered in 2016. Little known on the UK dance scene at that time, Eyal now returns to Sadler's Wells as an Associate Artist. Working with her long time collaborators Gai Behar (co-creator) and Ori Lichtik (sound artist), Eyal plunges us into the messiness of heart break and isolation. She describes this as an "illness" to the body. It's like watching emotional entropy as the performers gradually disintegrate over the hour-long performance, undone by the ravages of love lost.

Lichtik provides live music. There is a persistent pulse that controls the piece. A heart beat. His rhythmic alliteration is disarming. Infinitesimal changes shift the percussive landscape with teasing stealth. This is echoed in Eyal's choreography. There's long stretches of unison sequences, but each dancer has a unique way of grafting the movement onto their body. They surreptitiously mutate the repetitions in a drawn out and continuous evolution. It's like watching origami, their wafer limbs fold and unfurl with delicacy and knife-edge precision. It's hypnotic to watch. Sometimes too much so. The prolonged iteration of movement and music occasionally tips into the soporific. This risks leading the audience to turn inwards, inadvertently shifting their focus away from the activity on stage and towards their own internal monologues.

Eyal juxtaposes wide, juicy pliés with angle-poised arabesques, and well-oiled, gyrating hips with filigree arms. The cast wear almost identical costumes, grey leotards and black knee high socks. Their gender is unimportant, emotional devastation is no respecter of male or female. This is an ensemble of equals hailing from around the world. They all spend the entire performance on stage. It's gruelling and exposing yet they dance with a fierce clarity and an understated elegance. Performances from Mariko Kakizaki and Gon Biran are particularly striking. They succeed in articulating our humanity in a highly abstract work.

Sadler's Wells is a cavernous theatre. In a smaller space, Eyal's choreography and Lichtik's live DJ-ing would coil round the audience. This needs to feel personal and uncomfortable. I want to be able to smell the dancers' sweat and hear the rasp of their breath. At a distance it feels like seeing through a glass darkly. The intensity dissipates into the yawning auditorium. The petulant repetition in the movement and the music evaporates before it has the chance to sink it teeth into our emotions.

In two short years Eyal has captured the imagination and the praise of  UK audiences. As Sadler's Wells' newest associate artist we can be sure to see more of Eyal and collaborator Behar in the coming years.

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