Julie Cunningham & Company – m/y-kovsky | fire bird ★★★★ Sadler's Wells | November 10 & 11, 2022

Julie Cunningham & Company brings a fresh and challenging interpretation to some familiar classics. The first two movements of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 become m/y-kovsky, a thoughtful and whimsical commentary on relationships and relating to others. There is an interplay between notions of conformity and independence. The dancers perform in overalls and the pockets are cleverly used in ways that can be read as assertions of self-sufficiency which then become a recognition of interdependence. Indeed, the tension throughout seems to be between individualism and connection. This occurs within a context of queer identity that is set up in m/y-kovsky and is further developed in Cunningham's very personal reading of Stravinsky's fire bird. In this piece we are dealing with the individual coming to terms with a sense of self and are shown how the haunting music becomes a key for the dancer to engage an emerging authenticity. In both works the choreography references classical ballet movements while incorporating a powerful modern dance vocabulary. Indeed, the combination of athleticism and lightness that Jules Cunningham exhibits in fire bird beautifully reflects the challenge that both pieces bring to the various binaries that are set up. The power of Tchaikovsky's and Stravinsky's musical classics is affirmed and extended by these compelling new interpretations that really deserve to be more widely seen.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Christa Holka.

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