Aracaladanza review at Sadler’s Wells, London – ‘playful and inventive’

Aracaladanza's Vuelos at Sadler's Wells, London. Photo: Pedro Arnay Aracaladanza's Vuelos at Sadler's Wells, London. Photo: Pedro Arnay
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Dance company Aracaladanza has been a regular part of the Sadler’s Wells family weekend since 2008. The two-day event sees the building filled with a variety of activities, crafts and performances and, this year, Aracaladanza present new show Vuelos, inspired by the eclectic genius of Leonardo da Vinci.

The show takes its cues from his various inventions and experiments. It opens with the stage filled with posable wooden figures – a nod perhaps to Da Vinci’s studies of the human body. The focus then shifts to the bodies of the five performers, their silhouettes cast upon the backdrop by large, handheld mirrors. The interplay between light and shadow is simple and effective.

In this way the show moves from one scene to another, the company using a mix of props and video animation to explore each idea. While the pace alters little, there are a number of strong moments. The way in which the performers interact with the props is particularly interesting – their movement becomes more intricate, their bodies entwining with geometric metal frames, or transforming into a herd of horses with a rhythmic gait.

The show’s final image is the strongest one. In reference to Da Vinci’s investigations into flight the performers don parchment-like wings, their costumes half-formed, like sketches lifted from the pages of a notebook.

The show does not set out to educate people about the life and works of Da Vinci, rather to show the scope of his inventions and vision. Aracaladanza’s simple but varied approach, playfulness and strong visuals should appeal to a younger audience.

Cleverly designed and playful production inspired by the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci