Review: OSCiLLATE, Sadler's Wells


RATING: ★★★★

Despite having been a dancer for fifteen years, I rarely go to dance shows and even though I live only a fifteen minute walk from one of the greatest dance venues in the UK, I'd never been to a show at Sadler's Wells before tonight. When I asked to review the UK premiere of OSCiLLATE, an innovative new tap show, I was thrilled.

OSCiLLATE is the first work by a British tap dance company to be performed at Sadler's Wells. It's by Old Kent Road and has been put together by founder and artistic director Avalon Rathgeb and co-choreographer Dre Torres. According to the programme, the show "explores human interaction and the effects of communication on relationships."

I've never seen tap done quite like this. While some of the moves are familiar, it has a clear influence from other styles of dance like lyrical and contemporary. There was even a number where the dancers took off their tap shoes and made the rhythmic noises with just their feet.

One of the coolest things about the show is its electronic music, which was composed for it by Kenneth Mockler. A short video is projected at the beginning which caused me to think more about the music I was hearing. It was amazing how well the electronic beats went with the tap dancing. I also enjoyed the couple of numbers that were done without music, especially the ones with spoken word narration instead.

The piece was also well-lit with the lighting helping to set the mood of the piece. I really enjoyed the number that uses lamps and how the switching off and on of them blended with the sounds of the tap shoes. Is it strange that I also loved that the tap shoes all the dancers wore weren't the typical black, but an off-white color? It seemed to emphasize that this isn't your traditional tap company.

The show is a blend of solos and ensemble pieces. I felt that the way they used partnering was really wonderful and included moves that I'd never seen before. It was great to see two women dancing together as that's rarely seen in tap.

If you have any interest in dance, OSCiLLATE is well worth seeing. In all honesty, I'm not sure I understood the full message or journey of the show, but I certainly enjoyed seeing tap done in a very different and exciting way.

OSCiLLATE is on at the Lillian Bayliss Theatre at Sadler's Wells on 24-25 July.
I was given a press ticket to review this show, but all opinions are my own. 

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