PUSH is spell-binding: it is unthinkable to blink in case you miss just one moment of this extraordinary art work. Russell Maliphant’s unique choreography does more than just show case the talent of Sylvie Guillem; her stunning athleticism and virtuoso style become part of an organic whole, each piece showing us how dance, music and lighting can work so seamlessly together.
‘Solo’, the opening dance, was created by Maliphant for Guillem in 2005 and this personalised element is evident from the first move. Her extensions and fantastic finishes to each movement are combined with a softness and classical beauty that is complimented by Michael Hulls’ creative lighting. Small pools of light stretch out into a pattern across the stage until a bright white light startles us and allows us to see every detail of Guillem’s elegant movements. This classically styled piece is then juxtaposed by ‘Shift’, a truly spectacular performance by Maliphant and his shadows! Tai Chi and yoga inspired movements are performed with strength, power and grace and with a purity of line that has a calming effect on the audience. Once again Michael Hulls has shown us that lighting can be so much more than simply ‘effects’: he has created a screen as a back drop that allows crisp and perfect shadows to dance alongside their owner. Shifting from one to three shadows, merging in and out of the panelling on the backdrop, there is a sense of sadness and loneliness when they all disappear and leave Maliphant alone on the stage. We start to see them as dancers in their own right and forget that they are the creations of the man in white moving powerfully across the stage.
The third piece of the night, ‘Two’, is completely mesmerising. In the interval following Guillem’s performance audience members were discussing their desire to see it again and to try to book tickets again for the next few nights. It certainly has that effect! Guillem stays enclosed within a box of light for the whole dance and Hulls’ astonishes us again with the lighting developments throughout. As the music and the movements build to a whirling intensity, Guillem’s hands and feet are lit up brightly, shining like a fire dancer, stopping us from being able to focus on single movements. The dance builds slowly and even the simplest and slowest movements at the start are hypnotic; we are captivated by the extension of an arm or the dazzling pointe of a foot. The final moment makes you gasp as the lighting changes and locks an image of strength and power.
After watching these first three solos, the promise of ‘Push’ in the second half is thrilling. Maliphant and Guillem move as one, their bodies connected in perfect harmony. The structure of the opening is beautiful with a series of lifts bringing the two dancers in and out of the strip of light. Each movements tumbles into the next; there is a sense of illusion and mystery as they refuse to let us see how they move between positions. The technique must be staggeringly challenging but their bodies are so connected, so at ease with one another that we become lost in its beauty. The dynamics between them slowly change and develop: from strength to softness, passion to composure, from earthliness to weightlessness. The contrasting styles of the two dancers, Guillem’s classical extensions and lightness to Maliphant’s powerful low centre of gravity, is a beautiful combination and alongside Andy Cowton’s magical score, this piece could be watched again and again.
This run of performances will be the last chance to see Guillem and Maliphant perform PUSH together in London. Therefore, don’t miss out on this outstanding evening of creativity, collaboration and impressive talent.