BWW Review: RUSSELL MALIPHANT DANCE COMPANY - SILENT LINES, Sadler's Wells
Sadler's Wells associate artist Russell Maliphant is renowned for his work studying the intricacies of the human body. New piece Silent Lines - first premiered earlier this year at DanceEast - seeks to continue this endeavour with all of Maliphant's signature creative devices.
It features five effortlessly fluid dancers who melt into a hypnotic formation of different shapes and patterns. Panagiotis Tomaras's enticing and captivating projections provide the additional momentum in the opening minutes of the work as the dancers weave in and out of the darkness.
Beams of light ripple gently across their bodies against a pitch-black backdrop. The mirage of dissolving limbs gives away to golden spotlights, and the quintet break off into a duet and later solos - including a memorable slow-mo b-boy routine from Edd Arnold.
There is spectacular detail in the lighting, movement, design and choreography throughout Silent Lines, but the result is somehow underwhelming, especially for those less familiar with Maliphant's variety of contemporary. The darkly lit stage and mesmerising fluidity of the dancers make it easy for the piece to wash over the audience, but it also suffers from its abstract nature, which at times make it hard to engage with over the hourlong duration.
Dana Fouras' original sound design moves seamlessly from a demanding, pulsating techno beat into classical compositions, including Chopin's Piano Concerto No 2.
Academically, of course, Silent Lines is a detailed exploration of the human body, but whether an audience knows this, Maliphant's work is not more or less impressive for it. One must consider a general audience, perhaps keen to explore contemporary dance for the first time.
This is a striking and unique piece, possessing the attributes that clearly identify it as a work that could only be by Russell Maliphant. However, whether Silent Lines is the right offering for "contemporary-dance-curious" newcomers - as the programme notes suggests - is not wholly convincing.
Silent Lines ran at Sadler's Wells on the 18 & 19 October
Image credit: Martin Collins