REVIEW: James Wilton Dance presents The Four Seasons at Blackpool Grand on March 29th 2022

The James Wilton Dance company returned to Blackpool with their athletic brand of contemporary dance.

By Lucinda Herbert
Thursday, 31st March 2022, 9:39 am

James Wilton and his troupe have been making waves across Europe since they formed in 2010. The Cornwall based company last visited Lancashire in 2019 - when they did an outreach workshop at Edge Hill university, near Ormskirk, before performing their mental health inspired Storm at the Blackpool Grand.

Tonight there are just two dancers on stage - James Wilton and Sarah Jane Taylor, who also choreographed the show together.

And it works brilliantly. This is stripped back and visceral storytelling through the human form. Figure-hugging costumes are plain and undistracting, and low key lighting produces powerful bodyscapes as the duo move with fluidity and stamina.

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James Wilton Dance Company

It’s danced to a modern version of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, reworked by minimalist composer, Max Richter, in 2012, and with extensions by Michal Wojtas (also of prog-rock band Amarok).

It tells the story of the universe - from the singularity of the big bang, to expansion, cooling and entropic heat death.

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It starts with Spring and the tweet of birds as Sarah Jane is curled up in a ball on the stage - a peaceful stirring as she awakens and finds her feet.

And then Wilton joins in for a playful tussle - gradually working up to some impressive acrobatics and combative throws.

The athleticism and stamina lasted the full 55 minutes – at times it’s like watching Olympic gymnasts at work.

The movements get bolder and more expansive with constant fluidity and balletic power. The dancers writhe and contort in symbiotic movements, like a hyperlapse of crystals forming over the aeons - incredibly hypnotic to watch.

And then all goes dark - until the hadean sequence where Wilton performs minimalistic contortions under ambient red light - creating an illusion of floating underwater. It’s dark, surreal and captivating.

The visual highlight is where Taylor appears centre stage, surrounded by hundreds of LED lights to represent the stars in the universe.

The Blackpool crowd fed off the raw energy of this performance. It was bold, expressive and yet with an apocalyptic mood that seems fitting in the current climate.

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