ROOTS, by National Dance Company Wales, returned to the Wales Millennium Centre with a portmanteau of brief dance works to delight and enthral.

First up was Omertà, with choreography by Matteo Marfoglia. The piece gives a voice to the wives of Mafia, in Italy, and how they have to cope with the actions of their husbands. Four veiled women pour water from buckets, as ticking is heard, then episodes of intense shushing and laughing. All very unnerving.

The solo battles which led on from this are when these wives get time to express themselves in their own individual manner. These brief moments of liberation are a telling marker for the lives they could and should have. They return to their buckets in a sort of tragic finale.

The whole piece is full of tension and the whispered Italian words evokes Luigi Nono. A challenging work with an important message in today’s world of crime and those who are affected by it.

In Caroline Finn’s Bernadette lies a brilliant little dance for one dancer, here performed effortlessly by Camille Giraudeau.

The characters attempt to make a cake is foiled by her own mind, in bouts of anxiety and mental anguish. The flurry of actions around the table are a mesmeric handling of poised action and unnerving quaking, as Bernadette stops in her tracks at times and appears triggered, with lighting changes and harsh sound whooshing from speakers.

She appears to recover each time, though the cake will sadly never be baked and all the supplies get flung and thrown all around the space. Some might see patriarchy, others mental health.

Perhaps it is a little of both, in this wonderfully sad, yet also funny, number concerning food and the mind. Amazing work.

Ending with Atalaÿ, by Mario Bermudez Gil is a journey through time to Spain. Ancient meets contemporary, east meets west in this curious piece, which is mesmerising and enchanting in equal measure.

The fusion of new dance, coupled with archaic rounds and court dances, somehow works.

The lighting, by Joe Fletcher, is rich, amber hues, reaching its zenith when one dancer body pops in front of one of the lamps, transfixing the audience to her gaze. There may also be some homoerotic elements between both male dancers, or is it just brotherly love?

The piece has its own mysteries, lost to time like an old manuscript. A vivid deception of history, mingling with the now.

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By James Ellis