Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Danish Dance Theatre - Sheffield Lyceum Theatre

Choreographer: Tim Rushton 
Reviewer: Audrey Pointer

Danish Dance Theatre is one of Scandinavia's most prestigious contemporary dance companies. The company performs worldwide and has a huge international following.

This event is part of the Dance Touring Partnership's Danceworks season, a project promoting UK and international dance through a network of theatres including Sheffield Theatre and which promises the finest of British and European contemporary work, ballet and classic tango. The tour represents the first visit to the UK by Danish Dance Theatre as they celebrate their 30th anniversary.

This show runs for 90 minutes with a 20 minute interval and a 10 minute pause. It features three dances: Enigma, CaDance and Kridt. Enigma has sensual duets in a dance about communication and understanding. CaDance is a macho competition dance between male dancers. In the award-winning Kridt (Chalk), a man about to die looks back on his life, aided by former friends.

Moody lighting and smoke pervades Enigma, which begins atmospherically without music. CaDance, the second work, features two onstage drummers, hidden at first, then suddenly visible and shockingly raucous. The third piece, Kridt, is the most ambitious, featuring a long chalkboard wall that spans the width of the stage. The music for this is Peteris Vasks's moving suite for strings Musica Adventus. All three pieces are choreographed by Tim Rushton, the Birmingham-born artistic director who has headed the company for the past ten years. Rushton's unique choreography combines the classical lines of ballet with the power of modern dance. Having had almost 30 years experience as a dancer and choreographer he was awarded an MBE in the 2011 New Years Honours for his services to dance. His interpretation is striking and thrilling. He nurtures the dancers' expression in creating their own stories. The dancers are given freedom to interpret emotions whilst the structure remains strong.

Four male and three female dancers feature in Enigma and Kridt and five male dancers (and two drummers) in CaDance. All the performers explore a scintillating palette of movements using high energy, rise and fall, levels, tension and diffusion. Each dancer successfully conveys the essence of the piece using everything they have both physically and emotionally. Although dancers and venues change and new interpretations are invented and absorbed into the work, the strong structure keeps the raw emotional power of Tim Rushton's original vision.

Danish Dance Theatre's production is an intense and captivating experience. Whether or not you understand all the abstract elements of contemporary dance, the powerful choreography and brilliantly executed movements are enough to make this worth seeing.

Runs until 2 March.
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