Wednesday, 6 April 2022

REVIEW: English National Ballet ‘The Forsythe Evening’ at Sadler’s Wells Theatre

William Forsythe’s choreography is a work of art. He has taken the traditional ideals of what ballet is and proven its versatility by modernising the music and themes. You would not guess that the American choreographer is 72 years old, his enthusiasm and charisma are infused into his dances and the English National Ballet dancers are responsive to every note. 

Act One, ‘Blake Works I’ is made up of 7 dances performed to James Blake’s songs from the album ‘The Colour in Anything'. By using mainstream music, Forsythe has gifted the dancers the opportunity to express themselves in free movements, albeit in keeping with the technicalities and discipline of classical ballet. You can sense the delight in their performances, as they give it some attitude and sass. I have never experienced a sense of humour this much in a dance performance, and it has shifted my views on what modern dance can be when combined with traditional movement. Wearing only slate coloured bodysuits and leotards (designed by Forsythe and Dorothee Merg), with no set, the setup is simple with all of the focus on the performers. 

After the interval, the second act ‘Playlist (EP)’, is even more uplifting and impressive. The choice of music is wonderful, and although the music becomes more pop – almost as if they’re dancing in a club- the themes are consistent. He magically choreographs movement so well that it seems very normal to watch someone arabesque and pirouette to upbeat songs. At points, the movements are so quick that you’ll blink and miss it. Their pink and blue costumes lit up the stage and were very fitting for Trans Visibility Day! It was difficult to not feel their immense joy throughout the second act, even until the curtain went down as they boogied to ‘This could be an everlasting love’. 

The Forsythe evening highlights the athleticism of dancers. The stamina and the connection to their bodies that they have are on another level; they are constantly moving fluidly and energetically across the stage. A few of them still seemed bound by the constraints of classical ballet and needed a little time to ease into the freeing movements, but ultimately the production is faultless and thoroughly enjoyable.

Review by Hannah Storey 

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Seat: First Circle, D 31 | Price of Ticket: £65

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