Borderline @ Sadlers Wells Review

Borderline is a Wang Ramirez production; distinctly made up of Honji Wang and Sebastian Ramirez. Ramirez is a French dancer and choreographer, with his roots set in B-boying; he began dance training in 1995, and was self-taught for many years, progressively winning championships and battles. Honji Wang, born in Frankfurt, started her training first in ballet, then, when she was 15 discovered her love for hip-hop dance, this has seen her perform with Rocio Molina, Madonna, and other celebrated performers.

Borderline ,  direction artistique & chorégraphie Sébastien Ramirez ,  en collaboration avec Honji Wang ,  gréeurs Kai Gaedtke, Ralph Güthler ,  coordination gréeurs Jason Oettlé ,  composition Jean-Philippe Barrios ,  avec la participation de Christophe Isselee ,  et les voix de Chung-Won Wang & Henri Ramirez ,  lumières Cyril Mulon ,  collaboration dramaturgie Catherine Umbdenstock ,  scénographie Paul Bauer ,  réalisation costumes Anna Ramirez ,  interprétation Johanna Faye ,Honji Wang

Wang and Ramirez met in an underground training room in Berlin. This meeting led the two to galvanise and develop a 5-minute piece performed as part of the competition Dance Delight, in Japan. They have grown to develop award-winning shows, including AP15, which won the 2013 Bessie Award.

The cast for Borderline is made up of six dancers, all independently contrasting each other in physicality, character, style and movement. The piece focuses on the extracellular aspect of relationships. The dancers are influenced by a type of rigging, similar to the rigging of film cameras; this extra body proves to be a very interesting aspect of the piece. A bungee string is attached to the dancers, and as they near or stretch from each other in moments of affinity or diversity, the bungee between them pulls, thus controlling them. It is satisfying that we, the audience, watch the rigging machine move, along with the ominous man in black who pulls the bungee and influences the dancers further. This man-in-the-middle between the relationships is a concept that is mystically relatable, and political. From start to finish the show is gripping; flips, jumps, walking in the air- it has everything we want in a dance piece. The cast contrast each other wonderfully, with a balance of feminine emotionalism and masculine coarseness; each performer brings a necessity opposition, which fuses and brings fresh life to Borderline.

Great huge squares symbolise cage-like houses and the performers move in and between them, creating imagery, which sticks in my mind. Indeed, there is a strong direction of hip-hop dance in Borderline, but it also includes martial arts and contemporary dance, broadening the expression of how the storyline transgresses; it has a lot of innovative movement and style, partly due from the stark difference in each performer.

It is a lonely piece, where each performer stands on their own, and although they may touch each other, it is not out of unity, but rather curiosity-which killed the cat. The rigger acts as the puppet master, defining the outcome of each encounter; each character leaves alone. There is a beautiful celestial moment when the cast enters as a chorus in a God-like procession. Wang and Ramirez have a duet that almost hits Hollywood as Wang flies into the air and disappears into the darkness.  A very pristine and well-structured piece of dance, promising an enjoying evening! 4/5

Review written by RATHE.

Borderline was shown at Sadler’s Wells from Thursday 2nd until Saturday 3rd October. For more information on Wang Ramirez, visit here…

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