Atomos at Sadlers Wells – A Winged Victory for the Sullen and Wayne MacGregor’s Random Dance Company

imageLooking around the gathering Valentines Day crowd in the cultured environ that is Sadlers Wells I wondered how many were here for which element? Extraordinary contemporary dance crew Random Dance led by Wayne MacGregor or the ever-amazing AWVFTS? My bet is in the majority, the former judging by the composition of the audience.

Having seen AWVFTS perform Atomos three times already (that early try-out in Reading then the Barbican and only last week in Bristol) I felt pretty much at home with the piece and the rather unnerving, emotional effect it has on me. Even the oddly inappropriate standing up surroundings of The Lantern (@ Colston Hall) couldn’t diminish the impact of this remarkable suite of music. So how would it be this time with the dance piece that it was written to accompany?

AWVFTS at Bristol

AWVFTS at Bristol

Not surprising, like a hand in glove. But that barely scratches the surface of just how overwhelming an event it was. No contemporary dance buff me – having walked out of the Sarah Bernhardt theatre in Paris during a jaw droppingly awful dance evening – I was a tad anxious but consoled myself that there would at least be the music.

In the event it was a ninety minute sensory overload sort of affair. The ten dancers were quite astonishing, with a strength, poise and a virtuosity that I find hard to put into words. Bodies flowing together, sinuous, effortless and like a language I don’t understand but whose beauty I still found absorbing. The music neither dominated nor was it mere accompaniment, the dance and music was properly two halves of the same exhilarating event.

Mmm, I am slipping into purple prose but, honestly, how often do you have a chance or the privilege to witness such remarkable things?

Leaving our seats when most everyone else had left after a triumphant set of curtain calls; I shouted down my appreciation to the members of AWVFTS already tidying away their stuff from the pit area. They looked a little surprised and a bit bashful – I wonder if they are able to appreciate quite what an immersive experience they had given birth to?

As we slipped away into the dark London evening we kind of knew that this had been rather special, not something too many others have been able to witness. Lucky, lucky us.

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