Sadler Well’s (venue)
17 November 2023 (released)
20 November 2023
Emanuel Gat’s LOVETRAIN2020 premiered at London’s Sadler Well’s theater the weekend of the 17th of November. A glorious, physical journey through the iconic discography of Tears for Fears, it had me aching to jump straight back on board.
If there are genres not typically associated with the prestigious stage of Sadlers Well’s then campy new wave has to be one of them. Formed in 1983, Tears for Fears were pivotal to a movement that would define the decade with this sound. Emanuel’s decision to set the show to the band's greatest hits was born when one of their tracks randomly came up on shuffle. After the one hour and 15 minute show came to a close, you were left wondering ‘Why on earth hasn’t this been done before?’
Pop isn’t Gat’s usual muse, the 30 years he’s been choreographing have been largely soundtracked by classical or jazz music, but the musicality suggests otherwise. The dark grooves, synthy sugary highs and power ballad interludes of the songs are met with intuitive juxtapositions of movement. Dancers crawl and chassé seductively in slower moments before pirouetting frenetically seconds later.
This is contemporary dance, but not quite as we know it. Emanuel empowers the 11 dancers to improvise within a framework, allowing each to bring in unique styles and influence. Consequently routines were interwoven with elements of acrobatics, ballet, cabaret and classical. Despite the amalgamation of style, group transformations were seamless, and divertissements shone a much deserved spotlight on their individual ability.
Gat’s choreography extended to the lighting. Chopping and changing in time with the beat, it continually provoked new perspectives, fluctuating the tone of the performance. At some points, lights shone from above, illuminating the angular lines of the dancers to an almost solemn effect, and at other times they twinkled joyously. During the opener, ‘Memories Fade’, a flood light effect painted the stage in dark green, exaggerating shadows and clouds of dry ice, evoking the nightclub nostalgia of the pop duo’s heyday.
In between hits like ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’ and ‘Shout’ were minutes of silence when the only sounds were the rustling of Thomas Bradleys baroque costumes, the heavy breathing of the dancers, and coughs echoing from the audience. Whilst these moments highlighted the technical ability of the cast, who were able to move faultlessly to their own time signature, they served as a jarring contrast to the epic hard-hitters played before them.
Despite its quieter moments, LOVETRAIN2020 was a loud, contemporary triumph, steeped in the irresistible charm of an era when things seemed flamboyant and free. Emanuel Gat has successfully paved the way for today's high brow culture to learn from the unbridled maximalism of the past, synths, smoke machines and all.