Theatre review: The Rodin Project at Sadler’s Wells

Inspirational tribute to sculptor by the Russell Maliphant Company

Musical statues takes on a whole new meaning in Russell Maliphant’s body popping homage to maverick sculptor, Auguste Rodin.

The scene is beautifully set: cream draperies envelop the stage and a sextet of figures slowly emerge from the folds to dance capoeira to Alexander Zekke’s wistful cello score. They break off into twos and threes and finally reduce to one, who peels and reveals almost everything. Tastefully, of course.

Initially, the daunting task of fusing the kinetic energy of contemporary dance with the static grandeur of iconic sculpture overwhelms the choreography. But after the interval, things kick up a notch.

Modernity breaks free from its classical constraints literally and technically. The Grecian fabrics are whipped away to expose a metal frame and the cast don their urban clobber and gracefully clamber up and around the set in a street dance take on Rodin’s Dante-inspired work, the Gates of Hell.

The pairing of hip-hop aficionado Tommy Franzen and streetdancer Dikson Mbi showcases the dynamic energy that links and merges the contrasting art forms.

Like Rodin, Maliphant has taken a classical art form, shaped it to his will and made something inspirational.

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* The Rodin Project was at Sadler’s Wells on Sunday February 5, 2012. It will return in October for a full run.

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