The Rite of Spring and Left Unseen @ York Theatre Royal Review

Sharp movements and diverse creativity sees both these choreographic morsels take audiences on a journey through entrapment, as well as the power and purpose of identity.


The Rite of Spring is inspired by traditional folklore, yet modernised in its approach to storytelling and the way the dancers create the feeling of sacrifice through their contracting body actions. Unfortunately, the music drowns down the motoring dancers’ feeling and power; echoing reoccurring and irritating violin sounds that just don’t help the piece flow as well as what is possible. However, a particular stand out moment is when two cast members battle against each other, in total silence, the breathing and struggle of the dancers creating an intensity upon the stage. One dancer launches herself upon a male and begins embracing him, this then turns violently abusive, sinking her hands around the man’s throat, making audiences feel as if they are in a gripping crime thriller.

Left Unseen is the next choreographic course audiences are presented with and in contrary to the first piece seems a fair bit more tribal and ritualistic. The costuming, bright and expansive, curls across the stage in support of the dizzying movements the cast are throwing themselves into across the space. Classical orchestration is key musically in keeping the piece alive, plus the lighting effects (or emblems) on the stage floor make one feel like they are joining a secret religious cult. Aggressive and harsh movements seeming soldier like flow alongside feather like lifts and deep floor work. This is also a plus in regards to drawing audiences in, allowing all looking to take from the piece what they will.

Overall, a crisp and refreshingly vibrant piece, filled with complex movements that are performed with pure ease and a dynamic intensity that has audiences magnified towards the stage throughout. With a different playlist and a more varied soundtrack the performance could reach new heights, but even so, the dancers are successful in their conviction and pull off a masterful piece despite this. If contemporary dance translates with you, then the Phoenix Dance Company will surely have you captivated from smooth beginning to tempting end. 3.5/5

Review written by Luke Redhead.

The Rite of Spring and Left Unseen was shown at the York Theatre Royal on Friday 18th and Saturday 19th October 2019. The show is currently on tour, to find out more about the production, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop