She Said review: Dancer Tamara Rojo presents three powerful and engrossing ballets rolled into one stunning performance

 
Melissa York
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The English National Ballet perform She Said at Sadler's Wells

Sadler's Wells | ★★★★★

Tamara Rojo, lead principal dancer and artistic director of the English National Ballet, says in over 20 years of dancing she’s never been in a ballet made by a woman. Here, she sets about redressing the balance, presenting three roughly hour-long, self-contained ballets, all choreographed by women. Thankfully, all three are distinctive, powerful pieces in their own right, with stunning aesthetics and engrossing scores.

Broken Wings, by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, is an almost tropical rendering of the life of Frida Kahlo. Her tactile choreography is perfect for enacting a life so characterised by physical suffering, while the Ranchera-inspired, percussion-heavy soundtrack plinks along surreally in the background.

Euripides gets a Chinese makeover in the second act, M-Dao, choreographed by Yabin Wang, a dance double in 2003’s House of Flying Daggers. It’s a reworking of Medea that pits her emotions against nature with a mesmerising set that relies on little more than silk strips and ambient lighting to cast storm clouds and rushing rivers across the stage.

But the showstopper is saved for last, Fantastic Beings by cult Canadian choreographer Aszure Barton. An identikit green-clad cast descend on to the stage, shimmering and gliding eerily – a la Mars Attacks – en pointe, leaning as one, as if the earth has shifted on its axis mid-performance. It’s pure imagination pulled off with enormous technical skill that’s nothing short of haunting.

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