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Compagnie Maguy Marin May B

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Five dancers are standing on sand and wearing long cream dresses and head scarfs. It's like they are moving forward as one.

An arresting piece of dance theatre by iconic French choreographer Maguy Marin, inspired by Beckett.


Marin’s arresting and powerfully theatrical work is based on the writings of Samuel Beckett, who unexpectedly offered his blessing to the then largely unknown choreographer to adapt his work. Echoing the relentlessness of Beckettian characters, the ten performers appear barely human – an ensemble of lost souls, their faces plastered in clay. Moving together and alone, their gestures are distilled to repetitive shuffles and their words garbled and replaced with rhythmic sighs and grunts.

At once awkward, pathetic, ridiculous and comic, the hunched figures move in meticulous unison, but with increasingly expressive individuality – a tender gesture or a mischievous smile bringing each character’s personality to life.

May B is set to the romantic music of Franz Schubert and Gavin Bryars’ contemporary musical genius. This haunting work features one single line from Beckett’s play Endgame: “Finished, it’s finished, nearly finished, it must be nearly finished” which Marin uses to give a pulse to her choreography.

The sparse choreography in Marin’s intuitively potent and timeless work is mesmerising – the dancers journeying in stoic defiance of uncertainty towards a destination that will, quite possibly, always elude them.

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Header image © Hervé Deroo
Image description: Five dancers stand in a group. There are more dancers behind that we can’t fully see because of the shadows. They are all wearing similar clothes which are long cream dresses with head scarfs. They are standing on sand and the background is pitch black. They are all facing the camera and it’s as if they are moving forward as one.

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“a contemporary dance classic”★★★★★ THE IRISH TIMES

“a moving, clever and funny homage”★★★★★ THE GUARDIAN

“He allows you to witness new wonders in the sounds around you by approaching them from a completely new angle”MICHAEL ONDAATJE (on the music of Gavin Bryars)

Join a masterclass with the legendary French choreographer Maguy Marin in conversation with Sir Alistair Spalding, artistic director at Sadler’s Wells. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to hear her talking about her career and her iconic piece of dance theatre May B presented at Sadler’s Wells on 21 and 22 May. Inspired by Beckett’s work, May B was performed over 600 times in 40 countries, and continues to tour a quarter of a century after its premiere.

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