Philippe DeCoufle shows his wild and whimsical side once again with his company's performance of Panorama, a compilation of rehashed pieces from the 80’s given a new and improved upgrade. The opening performance was pure fun for both the audience and the performers, affirming Decoufle is not just an accomplished choreographer but an entertainer as well.
The French artist’s inspiration stems from film, circus and comic strips. This is evident right from the start. As the lights flicker indicating the show is about to begin, we suddenly hear horns blaring followed by a marching procession of baton twirlers through the lobby and into the theatre. The audience is quickly made aware they are in for something different.
As the lights dim, we are introduced to the group of performers, each dressed in a bright colour. Starting with a more typical contemporary dance set, they twist and move to an old school synth-pop dance track. This, however, quickly changes to a culmination of sets evoking humour and stunts. Wires are dropped and two dancers fly around, kicking and screaming in a battle to jump higher than the other. A French mime artist then makes his way on stage creating intricate (and often sexual) animal shapes in a projected silhouette; the hand gestures are so perfectly constructed, the audience can’t help but let loose belly laughs.
Further stand-out sets include a game show involving a wrestling-style knock-out contest with each of the performers possessing unique and often amusing characters. This is followed by a woman wearing antlers swinging on a trapeze bar to a beautiful piece of classical music. In between these audacious pieces are short segments of more standard dance fare giving contemporary fans a chance to enjoy the show as well.
If this doesn’t give a clear enough depiction of Decoufle’s prolific style, he sums it up himself by describing Panorama as a "very ambitious small show."His use of multi-media keeps the show fresh, and circus elements inject a bit of magic. His love for theatre shines through, and judging from the audiences’ howls of laughter, it seems it worked. For those looking for a more traditional dance show, you might be disappointed. Some of the choreography looks unpolished and in need of rehearsal, though perhaps this is just how he planned it. After all, Decoufle follows his own set of rules.
The last performance is today at 4pm, tickets from £12. Book online with Sadlers Wells.
Photo by Christian Berthelot.