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National Dance Company Wales: Awakening review at Linbury Theatre, London – ‘a distinctive triple bill’

National Dance Company Wales' Tundra. Photo: Rhys Cozens
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This is only the second time National Dance Company Wales has performed at the Royal Opera House. This is surprising, given its status as a national company and the calibre of its programming.

Marcos Morau’s distinctive Tundra opens the evening. Dressed in cone-shaped skirts that skim the floor, the dancers glide around like ghosts. It’s a strange and beautiful opening. Then, they remove their skirts and form a human chain. Their movements are precise and robotic. Clad in multi-coloured patterned catsuits, they morph into different formations – it’s like looking at a human kaleidoscope. This is an effect that requires absolute precision but, on this occasion, that precision is not always there.

Fernando Melo’s Afterimage, however, is pure theatrical magic. A clever use of mirrors allows multiple scenes to play out at once. In this way, the audience gains a fleeting insight into a series of relationships. Shadowy bodies merge, only to peel away from each other, blurring the line between the real and the remembered. Afterimage deals in the ephemeral, yet the mysterious beauty of this work lingers.

Revellers’ Mass, choreographed by the company’s former artistic director Caroline Finn, combines religious imagery, primal power and dark comedy. On a stage dominated by a long stone altar, the dancers huddle in groups, their convulsive, isolated movements suggesting guarded conversations. Eventually, the simmering tension erupts into a scene of Dionysian indulgence which, once it’s over, is matter-of-factly swept away. It’s a strong closer to a deftly curated programme.

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National Dance Company Wales presents a distinctive and diverse triple bill