40 Years of Phoenix ★★★★★ Sadler's Wells Peacock Theatre | March 29 & 30, 2022


Here's a sampler box in which every selection is simply delicious. To celebrate its 40 years of existence, Phoenix Dance Theatre has put together a programme that displays all the extraordinary artistry of the company. The evening begins with Henri Oguike's Signal which demonstrates the amazing athleticism and timing of the dancers. The haunting percussive music provides the perfect vehicle to display the mastery of all five performers. The brief, but poignant, Harmonica Breakdown is a complete change of pace and Yuma Sylla's characterisation captivates the audience. Family is a more narrative piece and a single prop chair is brilliantly manipulated as all the complex entanglements of parents and children unravel. In the second act, the introduction of spoken text and the presence of a live musician completely changes the pace in the humorous and touching Pave Up Paradise. Ben Duke and Raquel Meseguer Zafe make a hilarious Adam and Eve. The pièce de résistance, however, is Heart of Chaos. All of the strengths that this extraordinary company have demonstrated in the previous work are now taken to a new level. The fight sequences between Aaron Chaplin as Jack Johnson and Matthew Topliss as Jim Jeffries are simply sublime, and Melina Sofocleous is a stunning Etta Terr Duryea Johnson. With this exquisite evening, Phoenix Dance Theatre certainly whets the appetite for another 40 years of its variety and virtuosity.

Rated: ★★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Image: Heart of Chaos, Phoenix Dance Theatre. Photo by dancephotographeruk.

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