Thursday, 7 May 2015

The Measures Taken and The Grit In The Oyster, Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre, Leeds (On Behalf of The Public Reviews)

This review was originally written for The Public Reviews and the review can be accessed here.

Accessed from The Public Reviews(

Alexander Whitley brings his dance company to perform the double bill, The Grit in the Oyster and The Measures Taken to Leeds.  The programme opens with The Grit in the Oyster set to Thomas Adès’ Piano Quintet and Sadler Wells commissioned this for Adès’ See the Music. Hear the Dance.   The classical music feeds well into Whitley’s choreography with the three dancers interpreting the fast tempo and intense music.

The musical arrangement has a tango like passionate feel; the dancers, one male and two female, appear to be in a love triangle with an involvement of pushing and pulling, intertwined with vicarious movements and emotive body language expressions.  The dancers interpret physically and intricately to the music and the simple staging is used well.
The Measures Taken is reputed to be “visually striking and kinetically charged” and it certainly lives up to its reputation.  The piece is created jointly with Marshmallows Laser Feast and lasers are indeed used effectively – diagonally, horizontally and vertically symbolising how technology dominates people’s lives.

The visuals have a good relationship with the five dancers who navigate figuratively their personal relationships with technology and Rutger Zuydervelt’s music works in unison with Whitley’s choreography.  Some of the scenes show how far technology can go in humanity and the dancers’ physical movements, such as the robotic sequence towards the end, show these frustrations and restrictions; the clever use of digital projection and the dramatic soundscapes.  Certainly an enjoyable and unique production.

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