Visionary choreographer and MacArthur Fellow Kyle Abraham and pioneering producer/electronic music composer Jlin have come together to create a reimagining of Mozart’s Requiem through abstracted themes of afterlife, reincarnation, mythology and folklore.

The majority black ensemble of ten dancers all bear a red makeup eye mask, all dressed in matching skirts, dresses and tutus, regardless of gender. There are (almost) no applause cues for the full hour runtime: the music and the choreography blend in and out together, with ensemble and solo vignettes that appear to take on themes of infatuation, possession, and class.

One of the strongest manipulations of Mozart’s iconic choral work comes in Dies irae, played quiet and muffled, as if it were being played in another room, set to a swift and perfunctory dance solo, a million miles away tonally from the “day of wrath”.

Most of the Requiem, though, is presented in unrecognisably tiny musical fragments that repeat and repeat, set to a fractured computer-programmed beat of drum machines and African percussion. It’s nothing new formally, and seems only to reduce the emotional power of Mozart’s original, turning something dramatic into something soporific.

Although fusion is the aim, this piece is probably unlikely to fully engage anyone: fans of the classical European tradition will find it too derivative; those looking for contemporary or African-inspired choreography will find it too limited.

Playing 31 May – 1 June 2022 at Sadler’s Wells in Angel.

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