Cedar Lake, Sadler’s Wells, London

Dance companies can sometimes identify themselves with a merry inexactitude – The Grand State Ballet of Bogustan may not be exactly what an eager public expects. Cedar Lake calls itself Contemporary Ballet, and you could have fooled me. Contemporary ballet suggests creativity and dancing in that classic manner we gratefully see in stagings by Alexey Ratmansky and Christopher Wheeldon. Cedar Lake proposed three oddly titled works – Violet Kid by Hofesh Shechter, Tuplet by Alexander Ekman, and Grace Engine by Crystal Pite – whose balletic credentials were invisible in a sameness of ferocious energy, spirit-numbing racket, portentous programme notes and a monumentally tiresome air of doom and vehement self-justification. Of balletic form, physical clarity, nary a trace.

Tuplet was winsome, involved chatter and dancers shown in silhouette and was, at least, reasonably innocuous in its jokey modishness. The Shechter and Pite offerings were fatally long and deadly earnest; their casts laboured with energy, devotion and a blind acceptance of an awful dance-fate not unlike that of a kamikaze pilot. The Shechter piece is more physically brutish to its cast, more nagging in its manner, more abrasive, noisier. The Pyte staging, a no less tiresome view of what used to be known as the Screaming Mimis, is no less dismal in its ethos, and it offers an inexplicable ending, with two women left to enjoy a dainty grapple. Among the cast, however, I noted the power and presence of Jason Kittelberger, an artist of impressive abilities.


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