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Cloud Gate 2 review at Sadler’s Wells, London – ‘impenetrable’

A scene from Cloud Gate 2's Beckoning at Sadler's Wells. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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Conformity, uniformity and anonymity are not words that spring to mind when thinking of the spectacular productions by Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan. But the little brother company Cloud Gate 2 seems to operate in a House of Dark Shadows judging by the three works on display.

The grim, grey line of dancers stepping in and out of a strip of harsh light in Wicked Fish suggests a parody of the Cultural Revolution in which individuality is a social crime. But any potential satire is trodden underfoot by a soundtrack of deranged, juddering strings that make Bernard Hermann’s Psycho score sound like a Handel sonata.

Collective movements speed up and slow down, allegedly impersonating a shoal of fish; the horror movie music suggests they are piranhas.

The Wall is equally impenetrable in spite of the industrialised, robotic movements and militarised formations of its black clad dancers. Starting with a mesmerising minimalism reminiscent of Rosemary Butcher it develops into a surging mechanical depiction of collective consciousness.

There is a little more light and shade in the final work, Beckoning, which toys with traditional forms as well as Taiwanese street dancing while the music moves from gurgle to growl before incorporating the ting of finger cymbals and clack of wood blocks. Colour-coded lighting bleeds onto the stage to reflect the costumes and the repeated rocking and sweeping motion introduces a rare harmony to a piece that lurches from one sequence to another without rhyme, reason or logic.

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Verdict
The junior company of Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan proves a pale shadow of its illustrious parent
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