The Four Seasons

James Wilton and Sarah Jane Taylor
James Wilton Dance
Dance City, Newcastle

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The Four Seasons Credit: Chris Nash
The Four Seasons Credit: Chris Nash
The Four Seasons Credit: Chris Nash

James Wilton Dance is well known to Dance City audiences, but it’s been four years since the company was last here in Newcastle. It was with great pleasure I sat in a well-filled auditorium to watch the new full-length work, The Four Seasons, to Max Richter’s justly acclaimed work, Recomposed. The music reimagines Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons and is powerful and exciting.

James Wilton Dance is an award-winning company, in existence since 2010 and it has a recognisable and significant style, which blends athleticism, Capoeira and contemporary dance whilst containing the elegance and stretch of ballet. In this work, James Wilton and Sarah Jane Taylor together create a world and a framework that is poetically inspired by science following the universe, its expansion, cooling and its quiet death. James and Sarah Jane are also the two exceptional performers who draw us in from the first moment that the lights sweep the stage and Sarah Jane rolls forward, almost as if being birthed by the light.

From then on, there’s a mixture of extraordinarily powerful duets, filled with lifts, floor work and jumps and quieter moments where the dancers, often just standing centre stage, entwine their arms in flowing, connected and intimate movement. In one section, which returns at the end, a tantric, or moving atom-like shape, is formed with the dancers’ heads delicately in contact, one on the top of the other.

This is a profoundly human, beautiful and surprisingly optimistic work, full of the most stunning dancing; the dancers' connection is superb—indeed, they have worked together for many years, and it really shows.

Costumes by Scandinavian Vibeke Andersen, who also created the poetic and effective scenography, are simple and reveal form well—Sarah’s work best; I could have wished for more form for James’s costumes. The suggestive lighting by Paul Milford never submerges, overpowers or replaces the choreography.

For such a long piece with only two dancers, there are inevitable weaker sections and there is one blackout with just music that definitely felt a little too long.

However, the use of classical music for contemporary dance is both refreshing and important.

It was wonderful to see this company back in Dance City—the authenticity and pleasure is palpable. Don’t miss James Wilton Dance whenever the company returns up north!

The company continues its autumn tour to Plymouth, Winchester, London and Derby and continues into 2023.

Reviewer: Dora Frankel