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© 2017 The Strand Magazine

'The Thread', Russell Maliphant and Vangelis - Sadler's Wells Theatre

March 19, 2019

 

In this wonderful piece, the internationally renowned Greek composer Vangelis and the established choreographer Russell Maliphant have combined their skills to revisit the symbol of the thread. Inspired by the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, but more largely found in many ancient mythologies, Maliphant’s work on this link connecting individuals through space and time is harmonious and potent.

 

A powerful and sometimes epic music inspired by Greek traditional dance, Vangelis’ composition accompanies twelve contemporary and six traditional dancers all wearing costumes inspired by Greek traditional style. They begin the piece standing in a circle that will be found again throughout the different tableaux. The tableaux successively present pure contemporary dance, Greek traditional dance, and sometimes both styles in a kind of question-and-answer game, with an inflating energy supported by a song growing in strength.

 

Rehearsals of The Thread by Russell Maliphant & Vangelis

 

In an almost organic vision, dancers on stage evolve as a whole, with incredible fluidity where lines are broken and reshaped, and circles emerge from an apparent disorder. Moreover, neckless and armless costumes combined with a very precise work on light and shadow (stage is most of the time plunged into semi-darkness) emphasise the general vision of a thread moving in the dark over individuals composing it. Bodies seem to disappear in the shadow for glowing arms and pure movement, in a hypnotic and fluid representation characteristic of Maliphant’s work. As it was already the case in his previous compositions, Maliphant has given a specific attention to light and emphasised a vision of organic overall movement, as a Leviathan growing and weakening with the music, sometimes giddy and carefree, sometimes threatening and powerful, but always characterised by an incredible and almost aquatic fluidity.

 

The idea of combining Greek traditional dance with contemporary dance might appear as a real challenge, but the result is striking: each style enhances the other. The precise work on turns and jumps brought forward by the Greek traditional dancers, mixed with grace of arms and intensity of movement of contemporary dancers is astonishing. What first seemed to be a challenge becomes a strong stylistic innovation. If Maliphant seemed to have got himself out of the comfort zone, he brilliantly succeeded in revisiting and transfiguring traditional dance into his own fluid and emphatic style!

 

The piece ends in an unrestrained composition where dancers cross and exit the stage in groups in an spellbinding and charming harmony, sustained by a rising peak of the music, a combination of all the dancers, symbolising the thread one last time before the final darkness. The graceful circle of the opening ends in a moving thread, where circular composition and turns made by glowing flesh and pale arms ultimately overcome individuals to form an organic overall.

 

Undoubtedly one of the best compositions done these last years, proving once again the virtuosity of Maliphant. From his work with Sylvie Guillem in 2006 to his collaboration with Vangelis today, he confirmed once again his place among the greatest choreographers of the moment.

 

 

Edited by Dimitrina Dyakova, Deputy Digital Editor

The Thread 

March 15 - 17 

Sadler's Wells Theatre, EC1R 4TN

 

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