As if there wasn't enough ballet to see in London in July, there is also a lot of fascinating contemporary dance. So tough choices will have to be made. However, if beautiful dance, amazing theatrical illusions and terrific laughs sound attractive, then 'Shazam' by DCA (Decoufle Complices Associes) should definitely be on your list of possibilities.
The production is sub-titled 'A Phantasmagoria', linking the show with the innovative 1798 show of that name. This used magic lanterns and other optical effects to 'raise spirits' in what turned out to be the biggest hit in Paris in that year. Decoufle loves illusions as well, but at the heart of this show is an imaginative movement vocabulary with links to Forsythe and Burrows and excellent dancers to perform the steps. In addition, there is delightful live music, in a sort of Indo-Jazz fusion.
It's tempting to say that 'It's all done with mirrors', but that wouldn't be true as film and video also play an important part in Decoufle's tool-kit. Although the show has a number of sources from the past few years, the most significant was a 1997 commission to celebrate the Cannes Film Festival's 50th Anniversary.
So, what can you expect? There is an amazing section for 4 dancers, which with the use of three angled mirrors, becomes a perfectly choreographed dance for 16. In another part, a lovely pdd is performed with a live dancer and a filmed one. A hilarious filmed section has the Company doing impossible acrobatics, but you'll have to figure out the gravity defying antics for yourself. Later, in a tableau, we see the performers stationary, apart from miming imaginary castanets to 'Fernando's Hideaway' with a delicious coup de theatre at the end. An elegant, lyrical dance sequence is performed live, but we see, simultaneously, a film of the same dance performed in a large, empty space, which is presumably the Company's base in an old power station near Paris.
If I have one small niggle, it is that I would have liked an interval. At 80 minutes, the show is not long and is always enthralling, but there is so much going on and so many wonderful ideas that I did begin to suffer sensory overload after about 1 hour, but bounced back for the last 15 minutes. Something to bear in mind is that although dance regulars will almost certainly enjoy the work, the humour and imagination of 'Shazam' make it an excellent introduction for non-dance folk. 'Shazam' runs until July 17th and details are in Listings.