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The Stage review of Desert Crossings

Thursday 16 June 2011

Sarah Wilkinson, The Stage Newspaper Review 2 March 2011

'With pervasive claps of thunder and dancers spasmodically freaking out as though demonically possessed, the opening of Desert Crossings is certainly attention-grabbing, if a little disturbing. Taking broad, difficult concepts as their starting point - the impact of geological time on humanity and the relationship between natural and cultural heritage - choreographer Gregory Maqoma and his five dancers shape a persuasively atmospheric piece that echoes with voices from a distant past.

Inspired by the connection between the landscapes of the south-west Jurassic Coast and the Skeleton Coast of Namibia, Desert Crossings unites British and African cultural influences in a dance vernacular of breathless range.

Rarely have I witnessed a dance piece so unforgiving in the energy it demands, yet the performers are ceaseless in their commitment, intensity and passionate articulation of the choreography. Sade Alleyne and Keisha Grant in particular give themselves so fully to the movements that they appear to be yielding to an invisible, uncontrollable force - one that tosses them about the stage like sacrificial victims in a hurricane of limbs. Lerato Lipere is also memorable for the fierceness of her attack, the drama she imbues in the smallest of movements and her penetrating, lioness stare.

Steve Marshall’s score drags the performers along for an exhausting ride. He litters his soundscape with primordial beats and relentless, punishing rhythms. An exhilarating production.'