fri 23/08/2019

Emanuel Gat Dance, Brilliant Corners, Sadler’s Wells | reviews, news & interviews

Emanuel Gat Dance, Brilliant Corners, Sadler’s Wells

Emanuel Gat Dance, Brilliant Corners, Sadler’s Wells

The Israeli choreographer's work shines, if not entirely brilliantly

'Brilliant Corners': Wave-like, the group flows, pauses, releases; it reforms, regroupsPhotos courtesy Sadler's Wells

“Jazz is my adventure,” said Thelonious Monk. “I’m after new chords, new ways of syncopating, new figures, new runs. How to use notes differently. That’s it. Just using notes differently.” Based on the title of the new hour-long piece by Israeli choreographer Emanuel Gat, Brilliant Corners, named for Monk’s 1957 album, the naïve viewer might expect, at the very least, to hear some Monk. Not so. Gat has produced an always interesting, sometimes absorbing sight-and-sound world, but of Monk, or jazz, there is neither sight nor sound.

With a 10-strong company of dancers, Gat uses a darkened stage with a simple rectangle of light as his performing space. In that, his dancers march on and form a group. Wave-like, the group flows, pauses, releases; it reforms, regroups, a cycle of swelling movement of the group en masse, while the individual dancers within move to different rhythms and speeds. It is like watching both the great waves and the small drops of water at one and the same time, and presumably this is Gat's interpretation of Monk's “using notes differently".

Certain movements recur – a snapped, kung-fu-like kick, or arms twisted around the head, hand over opposite ear. Different dance styles and backgrounds are assimilated – there appear to be some t’ai chi moves, as well as two of the men who incorporate a hip-hop background into Gat’s more contemporary movement. The group breaks up, reforms; sometimes the dancers watch from the sides, sometimes one or two are isolated in the square of light, alone on stage.

The tone remains carefully neutral throughout – sometimes downright chilly. It would have been interesting to see some interaction develop between the dancers, and between the movements, but that was not what interested Gat.

The lighting, also by Gat, always moody and dark, twice dips into moonlight, with the dancers flickering through the space like negative images in a photograph. This is particularly effective, and it is perhaps slightly sobering to realise that more is being conveyed by the lighting than by the choreography. Similarly, when the music, put together by Gat – mostly solo piano, stray chords and progressions, the odd burst of static and at one point an Ave Maria – stops, and a section is danced in silence, once more this creates a tension that the choreographer has failed to produce.

Gat is good at individuals working in relation to a whole, and his work is always interesting and watchable. But by being so concerned with the group dynamic, and the overall shape of each section, he has neglected the shape of the evening. At 65 minutes, this is not a hardship, but Gat has the ability to do more – it would be good to see him stretch himself out of his comfort zone.

Watch the trailer for Brilliant Corners


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