From Freedom to Frenetic and Grime to Gruesome Murder

Share this article

We were lavishly treated to Roommates, an evening of boundary-changing dance from Ballet National de Marseille who, over six pieces, celebrated the influences that make them want to move their bodies in beautiful and extraordinary ways, writes Michael Holland.

We were thrown in to this amazing night rather harshly with Grime Ballet, a piece by Cecilia Bengolea and François Chaignaud that combines hard-hitting Grime music with movement that includes dancehall and hip-hop beneath the umbrella of ballet. Should it even work? They made it work.

Weather Is Sweet by (LA) Horde was an exploration of love and love-making. With slow, sweeping twists and turns the dancers enjoyed each other’s bodies to evoke a feeling of freedom to love.

Iowa – Photo: Thierrry Hauswald

Peeping Tom’s Oiwa opened in clouds of mist and the sounds of lapping water. Water nymphs emerged from the fog and frolicked sensuously. Then the music took an alarming diversion. It became angry and mechanical and the erotic overtones became angry. This to-ing and fro-ing turned more and more intense, the clanking, industrial soundscape got louder and louder until the violence peaked and there was murder on the dance floor.

The whole auditorium collectively needed a break to recover and we were given this while the stage was set for Concerto, Lucinda Child’s piece that pairs her choreography with Henryk Górecki’s avant-garde music. 

Black-clad dancers moved in lines against the white backdrop. It was rush-hour with everyone going to work in the same streets but going different ways while having to avoid each other; very reminiscent of black-clad, bowler-hatted City workers uniformly swarming across London Bridge. The freedom of earlier had now become frenetic. Metronomic sounds and the minimalist movement became repetitive; it was same old, same old as the commuters trod the same steps at the same time every day. 

Concerto was a breathtaking piece in how the flying hands and feet did not connect with other flying hands and feet as the dancers moved swiftly up and down their lines – All going nowhere fast.

Les Indomptés – Photo: Blandine Soulage

Les Indomptés by Claude Brumachon and Benjamin Lamarche has been performed all over the world and these two dancers know the moves and each other so well that this is the perfect dance piece. Its sensual, synchronised-swimming precision elicited tremendous applause and could quite rightly have been the grand finale to Roommates. But there was one more dance to tantalise our love of dance – Room With A View by (LA) Horde. 

Music by Rone got us in to a marching, stomping beat as the troupe menacingly appeared. They came as a mob so we knew there would be violence. Air-punching, pelvis-thrusting and chanting over the trance-like hypnotic beats created an atmosphere of the world right now. An angry world fighting against war and poverty and injustice and the slow but steady weakening of human rights. 

The mob ruled and they were right to be angry. They invited us to have a go if we thought we were hard enough, or to join them in revolution. We joined them by stamping our feet in harmony with the dancers and in unison with their ideology.

This was the grand finale, this was the big finish of Roommates. This was the culmination of an incredible night of dance and had us standing and cheering and calling them back so we could clap and cheer for more.

Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, SE1 8XX unit March 3rd. Various times. Admission: £20 – £45



Get the latest news for South London direct to your inbox once a week.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Share this article