In 2018, Sadler’s Wells commissioned Botis Seva, one of a new generation of UK-based dance-makers, to create a new work to help celebrate 20 years in their current theatre. The resulting work, BLKDOG, left the dance world abuzz about the emergence of such a singular and unique choreographic voice. By 2019, BLKDOG had collected an Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production.
Seva is influenced by hip-hop theatre, and galvanised by dance as a personal means of responding to systemic racism and social deprivation. The company he founded at 19, Far From The Norm is thrilling audiences and critics with its genre-defying physical poetry, steeped in Black pop culture.
In their padded hoods, Far from the Norm looks like a feral street gang, and on one level the piece is about urban black youth and their ways of coping with hopelessness and fear. But impossible as it may seem, this is an exhilarating work about despair: they appear to be literally pressured from above as they jerk and pulse, largely on their haunches, with release coming in flashes of violent activity, co-ordinated with split-second precision as if by electric current. In some sequences, brilliantly synched to the score laced with menacing gun loading and cocking samples, you will swear the movements have been digitally manipulated, so knife-edged are the freeze framing and fast forward effects.
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