Tuesday, November 29

Jasmin Vardimon Company: ALiCE – Sadlers Wells

Jasmin Vardimon Company’s modern retelling of ‘Alice’ is arresting, illuminating and inspiring.

As you settle into the auditorium, there is a clock turning, and you notice the countdown to the start of the performance. Then it dawns on you to observe closely that it’s a group of super flexible dancers telling the time with their bodies. With this stopping of time, as we wait for the time the show begins, we are grasped by the captivating 3rd Movement of Vivaldi’s Summer. A rendition that evokes goosebumps.

That is Jasmin Vardimon’s choreography for you, beauty in the details, on-point music, arresting images and thought-provoking choreography.

‘Allice in Wonderland, a classic, has been an inspiration for so many movies, theatre, sketches and dance ballets. This production literally jumps off the book’s pages and is thriving in a seamless leap of untold stories of immigration, time, death, and identity. The show combines VR technology and makes it dance with some cracking lighting choices. In front of our eyes, we see Alice step out of the book as a little girl, growing in size with light and shadows. She experiences love, separation, angst, curiosity and wonder. Special mention to the magicians Andrew Crofts and the team behind the light and the VR technology, who have created a stunning and spectacular metaverse for the dancers to paint.

The choreography’s use of hands and fingers throughout the piece is unorthodox. We have a community of hands that entice little Alice to step in and explore the wonderland. Later, what feels like many hands exploit adolescent Alice. Alice also follows her curiosity with fingers playing with a butterfly that begins with a choreography of hands to an entire person! One of the outstanding solo pieces was the dance of red that felt like the onset of puberty for adolescent Alice, a rite of passage encapsulated beautifully.

Photo: Tristram Kenton

We have moments from the book like the recognizable mad tea party, but unlike any other rendition, a capsized boat, all upside down, with fascinating use of props, lights and movement.

The queen of hearts arrived on stage with her entourage of soldiers protecting her, ready to point out the other’s fault and scared of her anger. Very subtly, story and reality merge, and we have a moment to reflect on our times.

In this true reflection of our times, It’s heartening to see a queer kiss while yearning for at least one person of colour on stage. The spell and the marvel of the choreography of Jasmin and her troupe are breathtaking, notwithstanding.

Guy Bar-Amotz’s set is marvellous; with every page’s turn, another dimension of Alice is uncovered. The singular door opens up reflections with herself, meeting the traveller (is he made of rubber?) and opening new avenues.

In a captivating duet, we experience the turmoil of young relationships with their passion and conflict. Suddenly Alice is an older woman unravelling the agony and ecstasy of love.

The beauty of witnessing contemporary dance is that there are many stories and interpretations of what we watch, what stays with us and what moves us deeply. Alice begins with time and ends again, cyclical in her curiosity to see and be seen.

Reviewer: Anisha Pucadyil

Reviewed: 29th October 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★