La La La Human Steps may have once been a rebel without a cause but these days the energetic performances en pointe are far more high brow than choreographer Édouard Lock could have possibly imagined.
A great thing about Lock’s work is that the dancers dance. There is no standing around gesturing in New Work (it may get a better title soon). In fact the rule of thumb appears to be why stand still for a second when you can hurtle to the ground and back up in the same amount of time?
In New Work Lock has choreographed the company in a very un-balletic manner but every step for his female cast would be lost without pointe shoes. Pointework is an amazing spectacle to watch. The mere thought of the average human wanting to ‘stand on their toes’ is a phenomenon usually masked in fairy tales and pretty tutus, so La La La Human Steps is a great company to watch if it’s the physicality, rather than the frills that thrill you.
There's no narrative but the work draws on two tragic operas – Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and Gluck's Orpheus and Eurydice. The tragedy is conveyed though the lighting – at no point in the 90 minute piece do more than a handful of spotlights illuminate the stage – and the duets seem to feature forever quarrelling couples. Knowledge of neither opera is required but the familiar passages from both are lovely, interwoven by Gavin Bryars and Blake Hargreaves.
Despite its length - 90 minutes - there is solace to be taken its beauty. It’s a marathon performed at the rate of a sprint - and if you’re looking for value for money, you’re not likely to find more steps per pound anywhere else.
But New Work divided the critics:
Ismene Brown at The Arts Desk thought the first half was ‘some of the most thrilling dance imaginable’ but ‘ the spell inevitably weakens over the 90 minutes’.
Zoë Anderson in The Independent had issues with the length and theme - ‘It has driving pace, but it fails to move forward.’ But still gave New Work three stars.
The Evening Standard's Sarah Frater suggests it's a good starting point for ballet newbies because the "super-physicality has considerable wow when you first see it, as you can't quite believe the capabilities of the body or the possibilities of pace" and three stars are awarded to the amazing dancers.
Mark Monahan of the Telegraph was not so kind, awarding New Work one star ‘it goes on for 85 minutes, and it feels like 85 days’.
La La La Human Steps performed New Work at Sadlers Wells between 28 September - 1 October 2011.