Early on in my Ballet.co days - about two years ago, I think - I recall raving on these pages about Russell Maliphant. 'Go and see him' I begged 'he's one of the best male dancers we've got'.
I'm pleased to say he has just proved it again at his new show at The Place in Euston, which has just finished a brief two-night run. Maliphant himself choreographed all four pieces on show and danced in three of them . There were no programme notes or biographical details on the scant one-page programme provided, but he must now be in his late 30s, though he hardly looks it - the shaven head he as sported over the last ten or so years flatters him, and his extraordinary grounded and controlled dancing seems as strong as ever.
The programme opened with a ten-minute solo 'Two' for Maliphant's wife Dana Fouras, like him a former Royal Ballet dancer and a product of its school. Initially a static piece, with Fouras' slenders arms windmilling about her head while her feet remained rooted to the floor, it burst to sudden life life with Fouras' legs arcing the air to Andy Cowton's driving score while Michael Hulls' rich and suble lighting blurred and multiplied her swirling arms like an optical illusion.
'Knot', a two-hander for Maliphant and Yuval Pick to a Matteo Fargion score suffered slighty by comparison to 'Critical Mass' another Maliphant piece recently performed by George Piper Dances, which it seemed to resemble closely, although Maliphant and Pick could hardly be more different to Trevitt and Nunn. Pick is another remarkably controlled and economic dancer, a real find.
A trio followed 'Stream' danced by Maliphant, Fouras and Pick to another Matteo Fargion score, again lit brilliantly by Michael Hulls (who was responsible for lighting the entire programme). Difficult to guess at the meaning of this piece - not, I would think, a commonplace menage-a-trois situation - but again it was a beautifully weighted and judged piece, Maliphant seeming to sculpt the bodies so that they looked beautiful whether together or apart.
Finally, the lovely 'Sheer', the longest piece on the programme, danced by Maliphant and Fouras to Sarah Sarhandi's string-driven score. Tender and subtle, it revealed Maliphant as a most extraordinarily gifted and controlled dancer. Soft, swift lifts, melting entwined arms, sculpted plies and above all, amazingly liquid rolls by Maliphant across Fouras' bent body - a 'playbround' movement, maybe, but here it spoke eloquently and movingly about other, oldermatters. These movements are engraved on my mind forever. I want to see 'Sheer' again, and soon.
Sadly, last night was the final London performance, but since this is a programme far too good to waste I have no doubt it will be back somewhere near here soon and I'm equally sure it will be touring too. Do not miss it.