Review Round Up: How Did We Get Here?, Sadler’s Wells

We round up the reviews for this new dance production starring Melanie Chisholm, Harry Alexander and Jules Cunningham.

(c)Camilla Greenwell

The Guardian: **** “The measured simplicity of the steps – walking, low balances, geometric patterns – is enhanced by the music of German electronic composer Wibke Tiarks, which offers a thick warm cushion of an atmosphere to sink into. More pointed is the inclusion of two versions of the Janis Ian song Stars, one sung by Ian herself, the other by Nina Simone. It’s a song about fame and its discontents, the line about “living with a name you never owned” must resonate with Sporty Spice, whose nickname was given to her by a music magazine and then used by the press to judge her for years after. It’s a clever way of acknowledging the fame in the room, while stripping it back to show three people on a quiet mission with a great sense of togetherness.”

Evening Standard: *** “As the title suggests, “how did we get here?” is a contemplative hour – don’t look for zigazig-ah. The floor is black and shiny as an oil sump, light hitting the bare stage in chilly whites and blues. In sleek catsuits by BodyMap designer Stevie Stewart, the dancers must create their own comfort in this cold corner of the universe. A little tribe of three, they probe their place in the world – a heavy task, leavened only by each other’s company.”

iNews: *** “There are some kicks and punches that recall Chisholm’s Sporty Spice days, but – having spoken movingly in her autobiography about dealing with depression and disordered eating – it’s her raw, intimate moments that linger here, including a little burst of a cappella singing (the soundtrack otherwise mixes Purcell and Nina Simone with soft yet insistent electronic). But the near-transcendent artistry comes in the solos: the lithe Alexander swooping his leg around his body like a pencil circling a compass, or Cunningham, bathed in dappled blue light, seeming to melt into their reflection.”

Time Out: *** “Each dancer is given their solo moment: Chisholm is confident and controlled, while Alexander – who is rather sadly underused overall – is a beautiful sweep of long limbs. Cunningham is the stand-out, though; suddenly electrifying, with slicing, precise, urgent movement performed to Purcell’s ‘Dido’s Lament’.”

The Stage: **** “Sporty Spice Mel C finds her feet in a spare, emotionally sensitive contemporary dance trio choreographed by Jules Cunningham.”

The Reviews Hub: **** “This superb emotional rollercoaster ends at peace with itself and with the performers under the stars. If this is a show you were planning on skipping, feeling it may be merely a pop star’s indulgence, you will sorely miss out.”

The Telegraph: *** “This new show at Sadler’s Wells hardly breaks new ground, but the Spice Girl proves an inspiration.”

The FT: ** “The slow bends, stretches and développés are a fine advertisement for Chisholm’s fitness but in a bid to buff her concert dance credentials she has stifled the energy and dazzle that made her such a theatrical force. Dance-wise the best moments were Cunningham’s own: an extended solo featuring the arabesque penché that time forgot, but even this high point was low-key.”

Bachtrack: ** “However, these nuggets were interspersed with duller sequences that could not be lifted by the spectacular and inclusive staging. There was plenty of co-ordinated walking and strutting, a lot of lying around (Melanie C spent three periods of apparent dozing, during one of which she ‘awoke’ to briefly sing a wordless a capella duet with Cunningham, apparently inspired by Meredith Monk’s Spider Web Anthem) and a strange section where Cunningham (and then Alexander) unaccountably messed around with an unplugged electric guitar. These several sections dampened my enthusiasm for what was, in essence, a beautiful and intimate performance. It seemed like a work in progress that could be improved by a judicious edit.”

How Did We Get Here? continues to play at Sadler’s Wells until the 29th January.

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