Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆
A glance around the audience at London’s Coliseum last night may have suggested that the Ardani 25 Dance Gala, where some of the best talent in the contemporary ballet world come together to perform on on stage, was only for aficionados and long-term fans.
Not so. This relative newbie to ballet was mesmerised, titillated and enraptured in equal measures throughout the evening — even on our minimal experience of the art form. The trio of works performed: Zeitgeist, (world premiere), Tristesse (UK premiere) and Facada come together to provide a diverse, accessible and surprisingly humorous evening of contemporary dance. We actually laughed. A few times. In between rapturous drooling.
Despite self-identifying as a newbie we have seen Principals of Royal Ballet, Edward Watson and Natalia Osipova, on stage together before. They’re an effective combination, Watson’s assured presence and incredible lightness of touch marrying with Osipova’s formidable attack in all movements. She’s a true delight to watch — precise and sharp with a forward projection that pins you to your seat — and the excitement (and light applause) that ripple through the audience as she enters the stage for Zeitgeist is entirely justified. Shame about the Windows 95 screensaver background that only served to detract from the beautiful goings-on on stage.
Tristesse, choreographed by the inimitable Marcelo Gomes (who also performed in the piece), is lyrical, light and is carried by a concept even the most junior of dance lovers can appreciate: a dance-off. Joaquin De Luz, Denis Matvienko, Friedemann Vogel and Gomes himself each took to the floor in a display of agility, technique and — refreshingly — personality. They have speed, laughter, drama and strength — plus a couple of shoulder shimmies thrown in for good measure. The synchronised sequences are executed beautifully.
And finally, revenge. Facada sees the return of Osipova, joined this time by Ivan Vasiliev as the runaway groom. That projection we spoke about before? Double that and team it with Osipova scuttling across her prey like a spider wrapping up its captured fly. Angled, focused, poised, predatory. An initially surprising dance-light first half is explained as Osipova suddenly breaks — in Carrie-esque fashion — from traditional damsel in distress to hell-bent heroine. Most fun.
A special mention also to Frank Moon, composer and performer of the music in Facada. Plucked strings set us on edge, frenzied strings matches the hysteria and banging drums lead the carnage. With tickets available from just £15, anyone wanting to see some of the best dance talent around at the moment should get to the Coliseum tonight.
Ardani 25 Dance Gala continues tonight, 18 July 7.30pm, at London’s Coliseum, St Martin’s Lane WC2. Tickets range from £15-£79 and can be booked online. Londonist saw this show on a complimentary review ticket.