• Amy Toledano

The Sun Rose presented by The Place

What is it?

The Sun Rose is an intense and heart wrenching study of sexuality, love, and regret, following a whirlwind romance as two lovers (Yemurai Zvaraya and Zara Sands) ceremoniously collide. Set to the soulful rhythm of Roberta Flack, this piece marries music, projection, dance, and theatre to richly sketch the epic highs and crashing lows of love.

What’s it all about?

We open with a jubilant musical performance from Zvaraya, who oozes confidence and charms the expectant crowd. The mood is fun and refreshing, winning cheers from an eager audience. The atmosphere quickly shifts, and we are caught off guard by the awkward blossoming of love. The two characters become a beautiful melody of tension and desire, and we watch as they roam across the stage, each step gingerly transforming from fearful uncertainty to burning passion. We see their relationship develop into a dazzling display of physical intimacy, captured gracefully through clever movement and careful touch, igniting a feeling of comfort and self-realisation. The dancers are then locked together as one, standing in ardent embrace. The audience melts away, left in the peripheral to admire the pair while a projection of their unbroken gaze is played in the background. It is all about them. All too soon, however, the bond is broken, and the lovers are separated once more. As in the beginning, we are left with two scattered individuals, yet burdened with a crushing sense of grief. The performance is beautifully cyclical, yet we are never able to return to the exultant revelry of the opening number. So much is said in 15 minutes, the lovers are weighted with a melancholy that stretches beyond what is usually captured in such a short amount of time.

How did it make me feel?

For me, this piece is all about contrast. The contrast between the performers - Zvaraya in glittering shades of blue and Sands conservative and beige - epitomises the idea that “opposites attract” and that love can come in all shapes and sizes. The contrast in tone between the various chapters of their relationship gorgeously encapsulates the transitory nature of happiness, and the polarising emotions we can feel towards our partners. This juxtaposition creates a fully realised and well rounded performance that leaves you with a myriad of questions to explore in your own relationships. The combination of music, movement, and costumes show that Matthew sees the piece as a whole, every element is considered, layered upon each other to ensure the mood is perfectly accomplished.

The performance is short, the plot is broad, and the only words spoken between the lovers are unintelligible, yet such a vivid and accessible story is drawn before our eyes. When the choreography is so visceral, when the creator achieves such passion for their craft as Matthew has, nothing else is needed. This epic display of raw emotion is so authentic, we are enchanted by our own experiences, and the piece brings forth the tapestry of our personal loves and losses. Heartbreak is universal, and it is captured with such eloquence in every look, every awkward clash of bodies, every sombre movement.

Anything else?

I think it is important to mention that although this particular piece was a one off performance to open the Resolutions 2020 at The Place (though it would be a tragedy if it did not make a comeback) this review is entirely relevant to Matthew’s work in general, and will accurately foreshadow – I’m sure – whatever’s next in the pipeline for him. Matthew manages to portray such earnest and truthful emotion through movement, it is hard to imagine that any of his upcoming choreographic pursuits would not inspire the same adoration that The Sun Rose does. His work is so full of love, so full of empathy and devotion and heart, it will surely be a treat to watch in any capacity.  

Zoe x

The Sun Rose was performed at The Place on the 9th January 2020.

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