Swan Lake by Dada Masilo at Sadler’s Wells

It is not very often that something absolutely blows me away in a positive way – negative, sure, every other day – but tonight I went to see a show at Sadler’s Wells that was amazing, absolute genius and I loved every single second of it. It was South African choreographer and dancer Dada Masilo’s wonderfully fresh interpretation of ‘Swan Lake’.

dada masilo swan lake photo by jon hogg

Tonight’s performance at the Sadler’s Wells dance theatre in Islington was the opening night in London for Dada Masilo‘s genius contemporary interpretation of the classical ballet ‘Swan Lake’ (yes yes, the one in that movie with Natalie Portman, that’s right). Only showing tonight and tomorrow it’s a real shame it’s only on for two nights because if it were up to me, everyone in London should go see this show!

And oh how far Dada takes Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake! About as far as you possible could from a classic ballet based on Russian folktales and originally performed by the Bolshoi Ballet in their theatre in Moscow in 1877. And she do it so well! Dada Masilo is a choreographer and dancer originally from Soweto in Johannesburg, South Africa and having trained in classical ballet and contemporary dance she fuses both of these schools of dance with African dance moves and steps to create an amazingly unique fast-paced but highly technical high-speed style of her very own. She also performs in the show herself in the role of Odette.

Tonight’s performance was free, liberating, sensitive and powerful, tackling difficult social taboos creatively whilst bringing a whole new dynamic and understanding to what ballet is today, has been and can potentially be when left in the capable hands of genius artists such as Dada Masilo. With a perfect balance between classical ballet score and rhythmic African dance movements (which I can only imagine would be insanely hard to get right and it could oh-so-easily-go-wrong) this puts  ballet into a whole new perspective and infuses it with such energy – sorely lacking most of the time.

There will of course be critics who slag it off – who might call it blasphemous towards the Holy Temple of classical ballet. There will be those who cry out about classic art being tainted and abused to draw attention to dirty social dilemmas when they see ballet as a pure form of escapism to be shielded and protected from modern society’s many many problems rather than used as a vehicle for communication and potential change. There will be those who will try to hide their racist views and dress it as “not racist BUT…” when they describe the African elements of the show being unsophisticated and not elegant enough  or technically advanced enough when compared to classic ballet. As far as I am concerned, all of these critics can collectively fuck off. Dada’s work is amazing and it’s genius and I for one will go to any and every show she puts on if I am physically capable of making it there!

At Sadler’s Wells tomorrow night: http://www.sadlerswells.com/whats-on/2014/Sampled-Dada-Masilo-Swan-Lake/

swan lake by dada masilo photo by john hogg

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