São Paulo Dance Company ★★★★★ Sadler's Wells Theatre | February 9 & 10, 2024

Perhaps the best thing to come from Brazil since Pelé, the São Paulo Dance Company provides a performance that is positively breathtaking. Since its creation in 2008, the troupe has been under the artistic direction of Inês Bogéa whose perspective is present throughout. Despite the fact that each of the three pieces in the programme has a different choreographer, there is a thematic continuity and a unity of vision that is remarkable. The hallmark of the company is an extraordinary synchronicity of gesture and attitude that is present in each of the presentations. It is quite enthralling to watch this almost unerring demonstration of unity of movement in which any discrepancy, by even a fraction of a beat, will immediately draw the audience's eye. There are also some virtuoso solos and pas de deux, particularly in the second work in the programme, Gnawa. The imaginative, and beautifully fluid, lifts and daring leaps are quite mesmerising. The soloists do a splendid job, but it is the groupwork that defines the company. In the opening number, Anthem, choreographed by Spain's Goyo Montero, there is a dynamic tension set up between the individual and the group. The piece becomes an interesting commentary on how the individual is integrated into, and influenced by, their identification with peers, crowds and national entities. In Nacho Duato's Gnawa the focus turns more to the individual and the relationship of couples, but in the final segment, Agora, it returns to the larger context. Taking its name from the space in ancient Greek cities serving as an assembly area for commercial, civic and social activities, Agora is a joyous celebration of community by Brazilian choreographer, Cassi Abranches. It continues the evening's theme of the relation between the individual and others, ending the evening on a note that displays all the strengths of this extraordinary company.

Rated: ★★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Iari Davies

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