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The Talent (tour –Arts Theatre, Cambridge)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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There are pluses and minuses with an all-male dance company. The pluses include apparently boundless energy, giving the male dancer a proper place in the forefront of the action (which, of course, is not always the case with the classics) and a definite appeal to younger audiences. The minuses include a lack of contrast, both in actual movement and in the possibility of on-stage relationships.

Take the three pieces dating from 2010 and 2011 which make up The Talent. They all involve conflict, notably so in the case of Jarek Cemerek’s Void where a dark filmed sequence leads us into a world of hoodies, deprivation, gang culture and ultimate victimisation. The recorded score by Ondrej Dedecek, Yoav and Ismael De Garay underlines the violence of the action.

The central work is Alpha, where Paul Roberts’ choreography and Keaton Hensen’s music for guitar and voice wraps itself around a pattern of shapes and a suggestion of the wilfulness of a seafarer’s life. Shelina Somani’s costumes reinforce this sense of timelessness. Alpha is preceded by Russell Maliphant’s Torsion, all pull and push with earth-grounded turns and right-angled lifts.

All the performers are young and they come from many dance disciplines. So you see academically pointed feet and the ball-of-the-foot pounce associated more with hip-hop and break dancing. There is no attempt to disguise the physical effort involved in these three pieces – as with the overall sense of managed conflict, it’s a case of the survival of the fittest. It’s also effective theatre.


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