São Paulo @ Sadler’s Wells Review

Brazilian theatre company São Paulo make their long-anticipated London debut at Sadler’s Wells Theatre this Spring. Postponed due to the pandemic, was the triple bill worth the wait? For this part-time reviewer the answer is a resolute and lukewarm ‘afraid not’. Although technically brilliant, it is hard to believe that the dance company is at the forefront of the South American contemporary dance scene. The music was often dull, and when more engaging, hardly exciting. This was then paired with dances that failed to be creatively united due to unimaginative staging, uninspired costumes, and predictable choreography.

Courtesy of Camilo Munoz + Iari Davies.

We are promised the “sensuality of Latin American dance”, “Mediterranean colours” and “Afro-Brazilian fusion” but in 2024 the dances feel outdated and overdone. Compared to Akram Khan, Ballet Black and Bangarra Dance Theatre, the pieces are woefully old-fashioned with the heteronormative power play and an overreliance on exoticising the Spanish, Latin-American, North African and Muslim cultures.

There are some interesting moments in the second dance piece Gnawa by Nacho Duato, a more upbeat number which took me back to my childhood watching Bollywood dancers, just without the elaborate costumes. Powerful solo performances from Yoshi Suzuki who moves so quickly it looks like fast motion. The final piece, Agora, is delightfully camp and full of movement that wouldn’t go out of place in a musical with a regular travelling motif which is beautifully synchronised. I am reminded of London during the summer, people strutting, smiling and migrating to happenings across the city.

Review written by Tasnim Siddiqa Amin.

Follow Tasnim on Instagram: @tasnimsiddiqaamin, Twitter: t_siddiqa_amin & WordPress.

Touring the UK in various locations until 23 March 2024. For a full list of locations and to book head to dance consortium…

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