Genesis @ Sadler’s Wells Review

Genesis is the result of the collaboration between the acclaimed Belgium choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and the Chinese dancer and choreographer Yabin Wang. They created the show mostly in Beijing alongside other dancers from their own renowned companies: Eastman and Yabin Studio.

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Genesis truly fits the definition of a work of art as I see it: something that will move us, play with our emotions and thoughts and inspire us in a transcendent way. The show opens with the dancers dressed with doctors’ coats, inside what resembles large test tubes that move around and get rearranged into different formations. It portrays an artificial environment in which experiments are made; birth, death, love and growth are observed and manipulated.

The feeling is almost as of being in a strange dream or nightmare, where you are pushed around and controlled. This is actually a metaphor to our lives in this planet and that is why it is so poignant and beautifully captivating. In an analogy to the idea of God, we see dancers supervising other dancers, isolating them, testing them to their limits. It feels cruel, in the same way that we, in our human condition, may feel that if there is a God, he is a cruel one, constantly doing trials and making errors, condemning us to a painful and damaged existence. The idea of setting it in a hospital or lab emphasises that feeling of disconnectedness with the natural world and how we are probed from the moment we are born. This probing develops into social pressure as we grow older, pressure to be what others want us to be, to be perfect and unbroken.
These dancers are sublime in the way they dance with their whole being, in such a passionate and intense way that their movement can move us to tears. Yabin Wang was particularly extraordinary and compelling to watch. This dance piece has a rather unstructured storyline, solidly based on a crucial theme, but the wonder is that it still gives room to different interpretations and allows the audience’s imagination to come into play. There is a fine line between creating a show that pushes the audience, within the limits of intelligibility, to freely interpret and associate, or creating such a dense and disjointed piece that they will soon give up on making sense of it. I think this collaboration succeeds in finding that balance as I have enjoyed both the eloquence of the theme and the freedom to stray from it.

I spend most of the performance with my mouth open in utter awe, constantly surprised and engaged throughout. Another very fascinating aspect of this show is how international it feels. On that stage the dancers ar citizens of the world and not of their respective countries. The live music is underscoring this idea as it blends many different sounds and music from around the world. The music of the composer Olga is a fundamental and stunning complement to the dancers movements and vice-versa.

Liu Kedong’s set design is outstanding, simple and effective, and it grandly contributes to the fluidity and visual impact of the show. The performance plays a lot with images and concepts – like the crystal ball representing people’s lives or essences. Equally effective and impressive is the light design by Willy Cessa. All the elements in this piece contribute brilliantly to make it the impressing spectacle that it is and I wish I could see it again as it makes me want to dance. Dance the world with my whole being. 5/5

Review written by Sofia Moura.

Genesis was shown at Sadler’s Wells on Monday 28th and Tuesday 29th September. For more info on the production, visit here…

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