Push

Birmingham Hippodrome

*****

BRINGING together the talents of Russell Maliphant and Sylvie Guillem, these two nights of performance looked set to be a highlight of this year's International Dance Festival Birmingham.

And the evening did not disappoint. Featuring three short solos then a half hour duet, all the pieces revealed just how special these two performers really are.

Former Paris Opera and Royal Ballet dancer Guillem may be heading towards 50 but she remains intensely flexible, sinuous and taut.

The first piece Solo was created by Maliphant for Guillem and highlights her strengths. Dancing to Carlos Montoya's Spanish guitar music, it sees her creating powerful and dynamic lines which have a hint of Flamenco infused into them.

Maliphant, who now interchanges choreographing with performing, then takes to the stage in Shift which cleverly uses light to create strong shadows so that this solo piece drifts into duets and trios as Maliphant interacts and dances with himself. Slow and careful, he creates shapes which reflect back in a gently beautiful and contemplative piece of movement.

Two sees Guillem back in a solo piece which begins slowly and carefully to a single beat and gradually builds in power to a crescendo of movement. Intense lighting gives an impression of continual motion until Guillem becomes a blurry whirlwind of dance.

Finally Push sees Maliphant and Guillem come together in a tenderly haunting duet. With intricate lifts and balances, Guillem soars while remaining anchored due to the anchor of Maliphant. The two are in perfect synchronicity so their bodies understand each other, blending and separating almost independently of thought.

All the pieces are given an added dimension by the strong lighting created by Michael Hulls. In many cases it takes on a life of its own becoming not just a spotlight but a part of the dance itself.

We are now in our third IDFB and if the festival is able to attract performers of such internationally renowned calibre then long may it continue.

Diane Parkes 

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