Samuel Tétreault co-founder of The 7 Fingers (Les 7 Doigts de la Main) brings the company back to Sadler's Wells with Triptyque – a trio of works exploring the theme of gravity. Drawing on the steely nerves of nine first-class performers, each piece harnesses a hybrid of circus disciplines and contemporary dance technique.

<i>Anne et Samuel</i> © Alexandra Galliez
Anne et Samuel
© Alexandra Galliez
Anne & Samuel is a steamy duet teasing the bond between mass and gravity. Choreographer Marie Chouinard fashions a barren landscape. Bathed in dusty yellow tones, performers Anne Plamondon and Tétreault are wrapped in earthy coloured material. The space is edged by swathes of crisp brown paper that crunches under foot, crackling like the dried out skin of withered leaves. Chouinard uses crutches to play with body weight, elongating the dancers' arms and releasing their legs. Insect-like, Plamondon and Tétreault knot their limbs together in an erotic origami. Balancing on her crutches, Plamondon runs her feet up Tétreault's body, clasping his head between her crossed ankles.

The physical intensity and heated intimacy in this duet is rewarded by an enthusiastic response from the Sadler's Wells audience. I am unsettled by the implications of able-bodied dancers using crutches. In its past, circus has exploited and ridiculed disability for profit, and mainstream dance still largely precludes disabled artists. Whilst Anne & Samuel wasn't conceived to tackle this issue, neither should it stay silent.

Victor Quijada evokes a moody, urban feel for Variations 9.81– its title a reference to the gravitational force of a falling body.

<i>Variations 9.81</i> © Alexandre Galliez
Variations 9.81
© Alexandre Galliez
The ensemble moves with a liquid elasticity, catching the ebb and flow of their shared energy. There is sense of unease and watchfulness as the dancers evaporate into the shadows and emerge into the half light.

Hand balancing forms the backbone of the work. It is a white-knuckle moment watching the performers wage an upside down battle against gravity using canes of varying heights. They look like saplings, their legs gently undulating as if caught by a passing breeze. Their skill is immense and the concentration is palpable. I'm taken in by Quijada's gritty re-working of circus, underpinned by Jasper Gahunia's pacey, flavoursome score for piano and electric guitar.

The final work of the evening is a show stopper that pulls together the talents of this exceptional group. Marcos Morau  puts the Big Top arena at the heart of his piece Nocturnes. We are transported to the cusp of sleeping and waking, the slippery place where our random unconscious musings slip through the net of dreams to tantalise and upend our finely tuned rationality. 

It is a rich offering: playful and eloquent. Aerial artists coil around one another, running and tumbling through the air like beads of rains chasing down a window pane. Humour acts as a well-placed punctuation mark to accent key moments. The ensemble of dancing fish heads is delightfully surreal and draws a joyous reaction from the audience.

<i>Nocturnes</i> © Alexandre Galliez
Nocturnes
© Alexandre Galliez
 Collaboration with other dance artists is a rarity at The 7 Fingers. Tétreault is rewarded for this unusual step with an astonishing trio of pieces. His fascination with forging a conversation between genres is infectious. The cast are multi-lingual, moving seamlessly between circus and dance disciplines in a constant exchange of ideas. 

****1