Contemporary Dance in Crumbling Grandeur: Terra at The Coronet Reviewed

Terra at The Coronet ★★★★☆

Lettie Mckie
By Lettie Mckie Last edited 100 months ago

Last Updated 29 February 2016

Contemporary Dance in Crumbling Grandeur: Terra at The Coronet Reviewed Terra at The Coronet 4
© Zadoc Nova

The subject of a recent Londonist Out Loud, Notting Hill's iconic Victorian theatre The Coronet has had a welcome renaissance after being taken over by theatre company the Print Room.

Terra is the latest show in its spring season, a contemporary dance piece inspired by the theme of earth, featuring newly commissioned poetry by Ben Okri and music by French composer Jean-Michel Bernard.

The crumbling architecture of The Coronet is the perfect setting for a show that plays on the idea of earth as the thing from which all life springs, bringing to mind the phrase 'ashes to ashes, dust to dust'.

Choreographer Hubert Essakow has collaborated with designers Sophie Lachaert and Luc D'Hanis to create a dramatic monochrome aesthetic for the performance. Ordinary household objects emerge out of undulating rock-like forms that are swathed in smoke, chiaroscuro lighting throwing huge shadows around the cavernous space. The entire set (and the costumes of the dancers) are colourless white and beige, the figures blending in with their surroundings.

The dancing is highly skilled and athletic, merging gymnastic balances with a plethora of different styles. There are hints of ballet, ballroom and even hip hop in the complex amalgamation of movement.

The figures appear as individuals out of the bedrock at first, but largely the work is homogeneous with no one dancer taking more space than another. Phrases of Okri's poem are played at pertinent moments during the performance, the mood and pace of the dance changing with that of the poem.

The poetry is simple but wise, beautifully expressing thoughts such as: "Plants and flowers and hills, mountains and valleys and caves are all houses of the infinite, Earth is home of the eternal passing through time."

The addition, half way through, of a young dancer (Mia Manor on the night Londonist attended) is a nice touch as is the sense that all the dancers are nomads, carrying suitcases and moving from place to place.

This is a highly skilled visual exploration of man's relationship to the physical world.

And while you're there, take time to look at what's been done with the space, as The Print Room has transformed the tired old theatre with a few atmospheric touches. The candlelit corridors and up cycled décor are simple but delightful.

Terra is at The Print Room at the Coronet 103 Notting Hill Gate, W11 3LB until 12 March. Tickets £20-£27. Cash only bar. Londonist saw this show on a complimentary ticket.