When PUSH, a triple-showcase for the talents of choreographer Russell Maliphant, dancer Sylvie Guillem and lighting designer Michael Hulls, premiered in 2005 it was praised for both the mesmerising beauty of the dance material and the beguiling performances of its two stars. In the intervening nine years, the programme of three solos and an extended duet has lost none of its stirring beauty, and both performers look as fresh as ever on stage. If anything, the final duet has even improved over time.
The evening begins with Solo, a short piece for Guillem set to the music of Carlos Montoya. Lusciously backlit in what looks like a pair of extremely stylish, diaphanous pajamas, Guillem glides about the stage with casual flicks of the leg up to her ears to highlight the rhythmic details in the music. Shift, a solo for Maliphant, finds the choreographer dancing ingeniously with his own shadow, tai-chi inspired movements softly unfolding across the stage as silhouetted versions of himself flit across the back screen. A simple idea, near-flawlessly executed, Shift is a fine example of what makes Maliphant such an endlessly fascinating choreographer, and his supple performance is engrossing to watch.
Two, a solo originally created for Malipant's wife Dana Fouras, gets out and about relatively often; versions of the piece were shown last year as part of the Liang/Maliphant/Wheeldon triple bill and then again last month in Still Current. Guillem's interpretation of the piece however is second to none; her absolute clarity and command are electrifying.
Push brings the two together in a weight-sharing duet of absolute trust. Guillem rolls down and across Maliphant's body; she arches back from his shoulders in softly cantilevered falls; he pulls her up from the ground into lifts that seem to simply overlook the laws of gravity. There's a lovely effortless quality to the movement that springs from a deep connection and chemistry between the two performers. Although there is no narrative as such, Push speaks of intimacy with a lyrical eloquence that the athletic, showy choreography of much modern work lacks.
These are the final-ever performances of the programme; lovers of contemporary dance will not want to miss out on this last opportunity to see two sublime performers at work.
PUSH runs until Sunday 3 August at the Coliseum, St Martin's Lane WC2N 4ES. Book at www.eno.org/
Londonist saw this show on a complimentary review ticket