Danse Élargie: Dance Expanded

Family Honour. Photo by Juan Carlos Gómez Villamor

The first night of the two day Danse Élargie: Dance Expanded at Sadler’s Wells Theatre showcased winners of this dance competition where ‘anyone can apply and anything can happen!’

With almost no rules holding them back, the competition winners from last year lived up to expectations presenting seven pieces with strong hip hop vibes, unique concepts, striking visuals, morphing props, nudity, violence, dance bootcamp style and absolutely no dance at all.

Kwame Asafo-Adjei’s cinematic Family Honour. Photo by Juan Carlos Gómez Villamor
Kwame Asafo-Adjei’s cinematic Family Honour. Photo by Juan Carlos Gómez Villamor

My favourite piece was also the 2018 winner, Family Honor by Kwame Asafo-Adjei. Tackling domestic violence Kwame Asafo-Adjei seats a couple at a table as they physically fight using hip hop armed combat style contact. The effect of the rapid intricate movements creates a tense, violent and intimate scene, that is layered with another couple to the side with their own struggles. Added is a man all dressed in black that moves as part of the scene and becomes the absence, voyeur and invisible facilitator of the movement. A heated piece that hit all the elements of exceptional narrative, concept, choreography, performance, sound, staging and lighting.

Queen Blood. Photo by Willow Evann
Queen Blood. Photo by Willow Evann

The audience favourites were definitely the pure hip hop breakdance pieces from Ousmane SyQueen of Blood and (LA)HordeTo Da Bone. The high octane accomplished dancers from both companies lifted the mood, as the danced to bongo beats and the sound of stomping feet.

Impressive was also the sci-fi large scale black billowing bag that released naked dancers and them re-absorbed them back into the constantly morphing shape, that ended up floating out onto the audience. WRECK – List of extinct species is from the creative mind of Pietro MarulloJusung Lee’s Eye also used props as a key device with balls surrounding three dancers who’s interrelationship is shown through continuous contact and a series of complex movements, ending with a hint of humour which was welcomed.

Jusung Lee's Eye. Photo by Laurent Philippe
Jusung Lee’s Eye. Photo by Laurent Philippe

A couple of more subtle pieces included a beach scene in MUR/MUR by Esa Chêne, which saw a dozen or so people in various bathing costumes slowly walk onto the stage, lay out a towel, sunbathe or stand at the invisible water’s edge. There is no dance and little movement in this second prize winning piece. Clémentine Vanlerberghe and Fabritia D’Intino’s Plubel (pictured below) sees four women stand partially nude as their arms move in a hypnotic unison until small rebellions of movement sets them free of the determined pattern. Quiet and absorbing.

Clémentine Vanlerberghe’s and Fabritia D'Intino’s Plubel. Photo by Justine Pluvinage
Clémentine Vanlerberghe’s and Fabritia D’Intino’s Plubel. Photo by Justine Pluvinage

Reviewed on 11th of October at Sadler’s Wells