The Critics Circle

Poles Apart

Warsaw choreographer creates stunning new dance language

Jeffery Taylor

Published: 29/10/2015

For the past five years, a young Polish dancer and dancemaker has started tongues wagging in her own country. Izadora Weiss, who makes her UK debut next month, is a graduate of the state-run Polish equivalent of our own Royal Ballet and has discovered there's more to dance than pointe shoes and tutus. Her creative imagination has sparked her own dance language, a dream that often turns into an incomprehensible nightmare for dance lovers searching for new talent. But last week in Warsaw I saw one of her programmes, and to my intense relief and colossal enjoyment, I saw a woman who has the audience's interest at heart. Not only does Weiss intend us to understand her language, she actually wants us to enjoy it. Clearly this young woman has plenty to say through dance and makes sure people like you and me hear it.  Think Russell Maliphant and Rosemary Lee.


'Fun' opened the evening. Modern youth, two boys and three girls, hang out and while pretending they are not, they test out the opposite sex. Weiss's steps are a subtle mix of young people's shuffle laced through with contemporary dance and ballet. And in Fun her choreography perfectly expresses the affected nonchalance of youth without disguising its inner raging intensity.


Whereas Weiss usually assembles, with refreshing good taste, snippets from various favourite composers to provide the basis of her work, for Death and the Maiden she uses Schubert's string quartet. Stark and against a black backcloth, Weiss goes straight for the nerves. It doesn't really matter why Death (Elzbieta Czajkowska-Klos) has chosen the young girl, her greedy and capacious mouth and particularly her huge, subhuman hands, say it all. She sits, legs splayed, and watches her victim fall in love. Then just to be really nasty, chooses him.


Led by Philip Michalak, a puppet introduces Body Master, illustrating, among other things, a loose trip down the memory lane of remembered loves. I particularly enjoyed the impact of nearly twenty dancers. Instead of the flimsy array of talent usual in modern dance companies, a stage full of enthusiastic men and women dancing their hearts out did wonders for me. Isadora Weiss's Baltic Dance Theatre performs for one night only next month at London's The Place. Book early.


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