Financial Times



26 April 2004
Dance: Henri Oguike
Clement Crisp

What is so exhilarating about the choreographies of Henri Oguike is the rhythmic pulse which races through every phrase. Over the past few years Oguike has shown rare imagination in matching movement to score - and his scores are streets ahead of the clatterings and sludgy sonorities that are the choice of too many dance creators today.

In a visit to the Queen Elizabeth Hall last week, Oguike offered Shostakovich, Scarlatti, Bill Evans and the palate-tickling sounds of René Aubry, and explored this music with finesse.

He also brought the fine young Pavao string quartet as his musicians on stage for two works and the immediacy of the score added significantly to vividness of performance. Oguike's recent Front Line , using (and reflecting on) Shostakovich's ninth quartet, seems characteristic of his manner.

The music's darkness is caught in movement that flings itself into anguished lines and couplings - dancers demanding, but never receiving, some rapport from their fellows - and beats unavailing against the prison walls of the stage. It was admirably danced, as is everything in the programme.

More ebullient was Oguike's response to Scarlatti harpsichord music in White Space, where energy (and Oguike's dancers are nothing if not energetic) is decorated with hints of baroque gesture.

I thought the white costumes hideous, and the piece a fragment too long and disjunct in its writing for seven dancers, but it is bright-spirited and does not need the dubious help of a faux-Mondrian backdrop and some tiresome filming.

Entirely compelling were a pair of linked incidents - F.P.S. - set in shadow, and shadowy in feeling. A solo for Oguike had dance knotted, dance struggling in spastic energies. A duet for the two exceptional men in the troupe, Nuna Campos and Nuno Silva, showed passion perhaps, and disengagement and the play of light and feeling. Tremendous.

And to close, a crowd-pleaser with Aubry's jolly music setting the company skipping and running and bouncing, and delighting us all. A fine evening: fine dancers and fine dance in fine lighting. And fine music, too.  

© - 2004 Clement Crisp - Financial Times

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