Sadler’s Wells, London – until 16 October 2021
Reviewed by Celia Armand Smith
The Candoco Dance company is at Sadler’s Wells for two nights in a thrilling return to the stage post pandemic. The first piece is Set and Reset/Reset, originally choreographed nearly 40 years ago by contemporary dance pioneer Trisha Brown and reworked or “reset” by Abigail Jager and the dancers at Candoco. The second piece is Last Shelter by Jeanine Durning, created during the pandemic. The dancers, disabled and non disabled, poetically move together, utilising every single part of their bodies.
Set and Reset/Reset is an exploration of space and movement, questioning the limits and possibilities of dance. Scored by Laurie Anderson, the sounds are jarring and paced with twists and turns. Huge movements that halt and start up again, moving between conversation and recital as the dancers fall in and out of synchronicity. The performers are always present, even when waiting in the wings behind sheer drapes, blurring the lines between visibility and invisibility in this simple and hypnotic dance.
Last Shelter utilises time and space to create an always shifting environment that captivates immediately. It starts out with no traditional score, rather the sounds of the dancers moving across the stage with various props, which soon become extensions of the human body. Stacked, placed, and organised, the tables and chairs and mics are moved around, as the performers utilise what seems like every piece of the stage. Every bit of air. There is a mic that is passed between each dancer throughout the performance as they improvise spoken word, taking up space and finding meaning in that moment.
The performers move with such fluidity yet precision in this complex and joyful celebration of the capabilities of the human body and the spaces we inhabit. At no point during Set and Reset/Reset and Last Shelter did my mind wander. These pieces of dance were mesmerising, letting the viewer question time, space, movement along with the dancers.