Wednesday, 9 October 2019

REVIEW: Crowd by Gisèle Vienne at Dance Umbrella, Sadler’s Wells


Sadler’s Wells has partnered with Dance Umbrella to bring the 19-day festival to London for its 41styear. Exploring shifting perceptions, human connections and cultural expectations, the festival brings choreographers from around the world to debut their art. Gisèle Vienne is Franco-Austrian artist, choreographer and director. Her piece, Crowd, made its world premiere on 8th November 2017 in Strasbourg and opens the festival at Sadler’s Wells this year. 

Vienne’s work captures stillness within motion and creates moving pictures onstage. She describes Crowdas a ‘collective euphoria of a committed party crowd’, set to a techno-trance soundtrack. It is 90 minutes long with no interval and takes you on an isolated journey following the intense interactions between dancers. We experience fighting, intimacy and a loss of control through slow-motion liquid movement that is scarily realistic at times.

Performed on a littered, muddy stage- the dancers are unafraid to lose their inhibitions to create a trippy show. If I watched this piece several times over, I would see something completely new and troubling each time. The way Vienne subtly diverts your attention to another fleeting moment in the scene is brilliant. There is no direct narrative, instead you are taken through the night by the scenes blending into one another. It is a dark, erotic and mildly disturbing piece as you watch vulnerable people lose self-awareness as they drink, dance, smoke and kiss strangers passionately.

One by one, the party-goers leave the stage in a ghost-like way, their bodies smoking; giving the illusion of burning out and disintegrating into the darkness, as if a figment of your imagination. The choreography is not seemingly challenging; however, it is incredibly effective. Lighting designer Patrick Riou creates dingy ambience in this unappealing space and assists with averting your gaze to a new story building. Despite the lack of diversity in the performers, this is a thoroughly enjoyable, unique dance piece.

Review by Hannah Storey

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: Stalls F8 | Price of Ticket: £25
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