Dance Umbrella & TOROBAKA

Posted on November 5, 2014 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

Apart from a string of art fairs taking place in London last month, there was also the 2-week long Dance Umbrella festival, showcasing exceptional talents in the world of choreography from around the world.

At the festival, I saw some brilliant and ground-breaking dance performances produced by two contemporary dance companies. The first one was Spain's Rocío Molina's 'Bosque Ardora' at the Barbican, and the second was China's TAO Dance Theatre's '6&7' at Sadlers Wells.

I have watched both traditional and contemporary flamenco dance shows before, but 'Bosque Ardora' is more like theatre and its star Rocío Molina is much than a flamenco dancer. She is unconventional, raw, precise and utterly mesmerising to watch; she is a natural performer.

The show is inspired by Greek mythology, and it revolves around hunting games set in a fantastical forest. Aside from Rocío, she is joined onstage by two excellent male dancers, and a group of musicians including a soulful flamenco vocalist José Ángel Carmona. Although the dancing and music is inspired by traditional flamenco, Rocío has broken many traditional boundaries and has created a show that is abstract, mysterious and surreal. It is never easy to reinterpret a traditional form of arts/dance and develope it into something new, but Rocío's ambitious piece proves that anything is possible as long as we use our imagination.


Rocio Molina - Bosque Ardora Teaser


It is hard to describe what I saw and experienced at '6 & 7' (click on the link to watch a clip) performed by the Chinese Tao dance theatre. I was completely captivated by the performance. The concept is simple, the execution is minimalist and repetitive, yet the impact is powerful in a meditative and hypnotic way.

The piece has no narrative, it is an exploration of body movements through repetition in a collective way. The Taoism concept of 'yin and yang' is presented in the two-part show. In the first part, 6 dancers are dressed in black moving on a dark and smoky stage accompanied by somber and intense music. At the beginning, audience can barely see them, except for the shadows and certain movements. Even when the smoke clears, it is still hard for the audience to distinguish the dancers' gender! Yet in the second half, 7 dancers are dressed in white and the stage is illuminated brightly with no music but a humming sound from the dancers. What a sharp contrast! This conceptual piece is unlike anything that I have seen before and it is very exciting to see a new voice emerging from China.

The 6-year old company was founded by Chinese Choreographer Tao Ye when he was only 22. Some people might compare his work and style with the internationally acclaimed and more established Taiwanese Cloud Gate Dance Theatre founded by Lin Hwai-Min, but I feel that Tao has created his own unique language that is not only inventive but also very contemporary and universal.


rocio molina tao dance theatre

Left: Rocío Molina's 'Bosque Ardora' at the Barbican; Right: TAO Dance Theatre's '6&7' at Sadlers Wells


The spirit of the creativity continues after the festival ended. This week, British Indian dancer/ choreographer Akram Khan and Spanish flamenco dancer/ choreographer Israel Galván are performing their new collaboration 'Torobaka' at Sadlers Wells.

The dance performance is a fusion of kathak and flamenco styles, and it takes place mostly within a red bullring ( inspired by the title - The bull/'toro' and the cow/'vaca') with Spanish and Indian musicians standing or sitting just outside of it. The two accomplished dancers' styles are quite different but they are both compelling to watch. I especially enjoyed watching the two performers dancing/'competing' with one another, the energy is intense but playful at the same time. I also applaud them for giving the stage to the musicians in one part of the show, though the show does feel somewhat disjointed and underdeveloped.

Overall, this experimental piece is an exploration of dance, movements and sounds, and the language that the two dancers has created is innovative and fascinating. Don't miss the show if you want to see two world-class dancers bouncing ideas off each other on stage!


TOROBAKA final trailer (short) - Israel Galván and Akram Khan from Akram Khan Company on Vimeo.


Torobaka is showing at Sadlers Wells until 8th Novemeber.



This post was posted in London, Dance, Music & Sound, Flamenco and was tagged with London, dance, Flamenco, music, Sadler Wells, world music