A ballerina, precariously balancing on the tip of her toes. The image stuck with me. Seeing the English National Ballet’s upcoming performance ‘She Said’ posted along my commute, I was drawn in by the simplistic bodily form that represented this incredible talent that I adore.
Three world-class female choreographers, each with their own performance, making their mark on a male dominated industry with the help of the English National Ballet. I bought tickets immediately. Having never been to Sadler’s Wells, I was pleasantly surprised by the cheaper than usual tickets. With each performance almost sold out, I was relieved to grab two tickets in Row O of the stalls, a steal at £38 a ticket.
Sitting down in our seats, my eyes were drawn to Grayson Perry’s front cloth – a rather intriguing cartoon collage with countless phallic details that suggested the rest of the evening would be anything but traditional.
The first performance welcomed Anabelle Lopez Ochoa’s impression of Frida Kahlo’s traumatic life, suitably titled ‘Broken Wings’. The famous Mexican painter experienced a life changing accident that caused many crushing moments in her later years. Stunning costumes surrounded Frida during her rocky marriage and a harrowing miscarriage, however for me the performance felt slightly disjointed. Her skeletal companions added a touch of eerie humour to many of the more serious routines – I’m not sure if it was intended that way or if I was simply part of a more ‘cheery’ audience.
I was mostly looking forward to Yabin Wang’s M-Dao. Influenced by her Chinese roots, Yabin brought an Asian influence to the classic Greek story of Medea, a woman who’s cheating husband leads to her climatic murder of their two children. The stage and lighting was simply stunning, as billowing canopies of silk flowed and dropped in time to a musical storm. The most impressive moment of the evening was Erina Takahasi’s Medea and her husband’s (in dance and real life) loving dance that gradually grows into an emotional trio of adultery and desperation as Medea is slowly replaced by the King’s daughter.
Lauretta Summerscales encapsulated the definition of grace in her sophisticated rendition of the mistress. Yet Erina’s display of emotion as she avenges her betraying husband is astounding, a true contrast to her performance of Juliet that I saw a couple of years ago.
The show closed with an alluring performance of surreal solos and exceptional dancers in unison. Aszure Barton’s Fantastical Beings is as she describes, an interpretation of music set by the individual dancers’ imaginations. The dancer’s tight slick leotards showed every motion and movement, each bold and striking, bringing a contemporary feel to classic positions. I can see how this was a Marmite routine, but the astounding leaps that swept across the stage brought a tear to my eye.
I will definitely be returning to Sadler’s Wells and have already looked at what the English National Ballet are up to next. Let me know if there are any shows you’ve seen that have blown you away!