Botis Seva's BLKDOG ★★★★★ Sadler's Wells Theatre | November 19 & 20, 2021


Botis Seva's BLKDOG is a dark and complex fusion of hip hop, free-form antics and contemporary dance played out to a pulsating score by Torben Lars Sylvest. We are told that BLKDOG explores the inner battlefield of an ageing artist trying to retain his youth. The seventy minute ballet has deeply disturbing images depicting the darkest recesses of a mind suffering from depression and loss, juxtaposed with elements of violence. These moments were reminiscent of the brutal savagery meted out by the Droogs in Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange. The dancers are picked out from the Stygian gloom by Tom Visser’s brilliant and incredibly complex lighting which achieves its aim of bringing light to a dim smog of disillusion. Beautifully lit sculptural images often astound us. Technically, the seven dancers are superb – among other qualities their synchronicity is simply stunning. Some of the choreography offers us totally original movements. There is a particularly weird, squat, scuttling way of rushing about the vast stage that is very effective. There are occasional lighter moments such as the wonderful tiny tricycles and some of the clothing looks like children's comforting onesies, but these moments are few and far between. This isn't an easy piece, especially for anyone who has ever suffered from depression, but the journey is very much worthwhile. The task of the creative minds involved in contemporary dance often seems to continually astonish us, and in this stupendous achievement, the performers dig deep to produce an original and unforgettable experience.

Rated: ★★★★★

Reviewed by D.S.J.
Photo by Camilla Greenwell.

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