Last night I had the pleasure of visiting the Wales Millennium Centre for the opening night of Cedar Lake – a contemporary ballet group from New York.
The show comes as part of the company’s first UK tour, and was a group I hadn’t heard a great deal about in the past. At the fresh age of only 10 years old, the advertising around the show portrayed a fun, edgy take on contemporary ballet. Needless to say, I was excited to see what they had to offer.
The performance was broken down into three separate performances. Their subject matter remained entirely different, promising a dynamic and varied evening.
Kicking off with Indigo Rose, a piece choreographed by Jirí Kylián, I was immediately blown away by the sheer talent and poise of the dancers gracing the stage. An explosion of movement catapulted across the floor, with male dancers crossing the stage in pairs. The strength and timing of their movements was second to none, and grabbed your attention from the opening step. The strength was combined with a playful nature all the dancers seemed to have – expressive faces and cheeky movements kept the whole thing fresh and entertaining.
Photography by Jane Hobson
The duets then turned to male and female performers – an absolute favourite for me when it comes to dance. There is nothing more romantic than a male and female dancer moving in time, elegantly using one another’s bodies to create sublime movements. The two duets on stage here were brilliant – the only problem was knowing which one to watch! The dancers appeared to float across the stage with ease, almost like feathers spiraling through the air.
The highlight of the performance came as a sail-like sheet was brought across the stage, taking over the space. In a festival like frenzy of dance, the performers created shadows across the sheet, creating a range of different perspectives. They ducked in and out of the sheet, evoking an exciting and fast paced atmosphere.
Photography by Jane Hobson
The manic pace was brought to an abrupt halt in this section’s final scene, in which an eerie feel swept over the theatre. Dancers halted on stage in active stillness, whilst poignant projections were magnified in the background. A hush went over the audience, and the lights went out on the stage.
This exciting opening showcased the exceptional talent of the dancers, and the intricate imagination that went into the work. The sudden change of atmosphere was intriguing, and left me wondering where the company would take the next dance.
The second performance Ten Duets on a theme of Rescue, choreographed by Christine Pite, was a peice that leant more on the contemporary side. The dance didn’t rely on fancy costumes or exceptional sets; it was a simple dance delicately portraying a potent theme. As suggested in the title, it included ten powerful duets, all telling a different tale of rescue – a word that portrays so much. Pite’s focus here was to evoke these same meanings through the movement of the body, scattering fragments of the theme across the stage. And she certainly did this well – the dance was touching, and portrayed a deep longing and need for help from the dancers. It was simple but effective.
Although this piece didn’t quite grab me the way Indigo Rose did, that’s not to say I didn’t appreciate it as a beautiful piece of dance. Due to my own tastes, I prefer the more up-tempo, adventurous side to dance – however, the underlying story of Ten Duets was moving and incredible to watch.
Cedar Lake closed the show with the fantastic Necessity, again, choreographed by Jo Strømgren. This show-stopper was bursting with energy. It played homage to the space between words, and the idea that there is a dull necessity to formulate everything we do into words. Letting go of the controlled and methodical notion of the word, it expressed pure emotion and a disregard to rationality. This translated on stage into an exciting finale, where a set of letters pegged to a washing line formed a chaotic creation – the dancers performed beneath falling showers of letters, portraying a total indifference to the words displayed on them.
Photography by Jane Hobson
The total lack of inhibition of the dancers was expressed through a series of group, solo and duet performances, with incredible lifts to leave the audience on the edge of their seats. The only real way to describe it was that it was like the best party on earth displayed to you on stage. I desperately wanted to jump on stage with the performers – they evoked unadulterated joy and the ability to totally let go.
The finale was performed to the infectious sound of Charles Aznavour, adding a french and – at times – sensual aroma to the whole show. Fast paced, thrilling and out of control – it was mesmerizing.
Cedar Lake’s first trip to Cardiff ended to an ear-splitting reception from the crowd. The dancers seemed humbled and genuinely happy to see such an incredible reception.
I would hugely recommend any dance fans to visit the WMC tonight for the second showing. The talent on the stage last night was out of this world – it took my breath away. I left the Centre feeling overwhelmed, happy as larry and overall… incredibly jealous! Without a doubt I will be keeping my eye on this company from now on – going by last night, they are set to create phenomenal things!