(in between)/Riot Offspring – Sadler’s Wells, London – Carole Woddis.

Take a cast of hundreds, add in an iconic performance one hundred years ago, stir and bring to the boil and what do you get?  A fabulous evening at Sadler’s Wells that gives a whole new meaning to the word `community-based’.

Many arts companies pay lip service to working `with the community’.  But Sadler’s Wells really put their money where their mouth is.  Nothing about this double-bill that included the inaugural performance by the recently formed National Youth Dance Company with the wittily entitled response to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, celebrating one hundred years since its stormy premiere, was thread-bare or patronising.  From the printed programme, through to the lighting, choreography and not least the dancers, this was an evening to treasure.

Jasmin Vardimon’s (in between) for the NYDC (it has two more performances at Sadler’s Wells at the end of June and then goes on tour, see below for details), combined elasticity with a profound sense of violence, both environmental and human.  Against a woodland setting of silver pines, the young dancers of NYDC stood and swayed atop half chopped logs.  Arms billowing, bodies curling and uncurling, Vardimon’s choreography was all flow, soft, undulating, simple.

All the more shattering then as two of the company peeled off and like woodcutters, felled each tree/person accompanied by ear-piercing yells.  Yet growth would not be stifled.  Vardimon seemed to be showing us aggression, rebirth and the collective spirit living side by side with a choreography that not only emphasised the suppleness of her young group, drawn from all over the country and together as a group for less than a month, but their collective strength.

A terrific debut, the Riot Offspring that followed opened with tiny tots tip-toeing through mounds of paper leaves and, involving Sadler’s Wells’ own Company of Elders, teenagers from their Mimbre Youth Company, Inspire and Emerging Artists companies, climaxed in the ritual sacrifice that Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring demands.  But this was a Rite for Today; youngsters with white face masks and white boiler suits squaring up to each other echoing recent urban riots whilst a great phalanx of elders lifted arms to heaven as if in supplication.

Again, the choreography by five choreographers – Ivan Blackstock, Mafalda Deville, Pascal Merighi, Simeon Qsyea and Sébastien Ramirez – showed young bodies off in their full lithe capacities, contrasted this time even more poignantly by their older, stiffer compatriots and the stumbling first steps of some barely out of their mothers’ arms.

Accompanied live by the wonderfully exhilarating – and again, young – Southbank Sinfonia under Gerry Cornelius, this was a community dance performance to make the heart pound and blood surge.  What more could you ask of a rite of spring?

Further NYDC performances of (in between) are June 28/29 at Sadler’s Wells; June 30 at JV Production Space, Ashford, July 20 at West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds; July 21 at The Lowry, Salford and July 28 Bristol, part of the British Harbour Festival.

See more from www.sadlerswells.com.  The NYDC which is based at Sadler’s Wells is now recruiting for another 30 young dancers to join the company.

Email nydc@sadlers.com for more details.

Carole Woddis © June 9, 2013.