Still Current is a five-part work from choreographer Russell Maliphant. Malliphant, Britain’s leading modern dance creator, according to Daily Express, is an Associate Artist of Sadler’s Wells since 2005 and has critically acclaimed works like Broken Fall,PUSH, In the Spirit of Diaghilev and the Rodin Project under his belt.
His own company is his vehicle for research and development, and he chooses dancers with different backgrounds, with different dancing languages, as he has called it, so as to weave in different elements to create a unified one.
Still is a three-part piece, each with its own music score and floor lighting design; rows of light with a different width for each part. The percussions and the games with the light make Dickson Mbi’s movements look like a slow-motion cartoon, right out from the flipping page corners of a notebook. The music changes, echoes of the jungle, and so do the rows of light. The dance is more dynamic. In the final part the luminous presence of Carys Staton circles, mirrors and compliments Dickson’spowerful body arching and stretching under the repetitive sound of drums.
In Traces the dancers move within a grid of diffused light. The stick they use functions both as an extension of their body and movement as well as a means for a skilfully choreographed battle, a metaphorical katana. The slender form of Thomasin Gülgeç, in contrast with the more muscular ones of Dickson Mbi and Russell Maliphant.
Two is the struggle of Carys Staton to reach for the light and break free. Entrenched with geometric precision in a box of light, she uses primarily her hands to convey the confines of her space and her attempt to break loose.
Afterlight (Part One) is a potent deliberation on serenity. Erik Satie’s Gnossiennes coupled with video projections on the floor of ever-changing clouds and of the swell breaking upon a shore, created a mesmeric atmosphere, filled with Thomasin Gülgeç’s fluid dancing.
Still Current, Maliphant’s and Staton’s duet was more truculent in comparison. The antithesis between the grace and measured precision of their movement and the intense electronic music and lighting which unites and separates the dancers in its changing geometries created a feeling of suppressed emotion screaming for relief.
The use of lighting and video projections on the floor created the visual background for the dancing and the music was expertly used to galvanise emotional response. With the exception of the gracefully soothing Afterlight, the rest of the performance resonated of tension, power and grace.
It is a rare occasion when a performance is so absorbing throughout and the emotional response lingers on for a time after. A performance to be cherished.
Russell Maliphant will be back in London end of July at the London Coliseum, to stage once more Push with Sylvie Guillem.