Choreography: Christopher Bruce, Kim Brandstrup and Andonis Foniadakis
Music: Arnold Schoenberg and Ilan Eshker
Reviewer: Dave Cunningham
The current visit to The Lowry by Rambert features a world premiere and the return of one of the company’s best-loved works.
Kim Brandstrup’s Transfigured Night is based on the story of an unfaithful wife who tells her husband that the child she is expecting is not his only to be forgiven and find that he is willing to raise the child as his own. A sense of guilt and shame hangs heavy over the dance like a sweaty film noir. A pair of dancers – marked as outsiders from the drably dressed crowd by their brighter clothing -seems incapable of keeping their hands off each other. But there is no passion involved – rather their need to touch seems desperate and clinging suggesting a lack of trust. The couple constantly entwines only to push each other away again.
The company forms a monochrome background to the couple – dressed in somber clothes their movements are like a swarm of bees constantly breaking apart and re-forming. In a masterstroke, Brandstrup offers three different conclusions to the tale- two of them grim. In the third version, where the couple are reconciled, it is significant that they are played by different dancers as if to suggest that the happy ending may be a fantasy.
It is harder to engage emotionally with Symbiosis – a world premiere from Andonis Foniadakis- but the technical aspects are amazing. Symbiosis is an abstract reflection on urban living but seems to have few points to make apart from suggesting that modern life has a rapid pace and the tedium of work can promote uniformity and conformity. But the dancing is stunning; Ilan Eshker’s driving score pushes the company into pulsing, dramatic and very fast routines. They are exhausting to watch; heaven knows how the dancers cope. The Choreography by Andonis Foniadakis demands pin-point precision and discipline from the dancers and to witness such artistry is inspiring.
Christopher Bruce’s Ghost Dances is one of Rambert’s most popular works and it is easy to see why. Nick Chelton’s lighting gives the illusion of the stage being in shadow and three dancers, dressed in skeletal costumes, perform a lonely dance to an eerie whistling wind before the noise of strings, pipes and drums announce the arrival of the newcomers. Ghost Dances commemorates the citizens of Chile who died under the Pincochet regime. Appropriately, therefore, the clothing of the newcomers is torn as if violence has taken place.
The sense of an alien landscape is captured marvelously. The dancers adopt subtly awkward stances – arms hang heavy, heads loll – as if the newcomers are becoming aware that something has changed and are trying to adjust. This approach is reflected in Bruce’s choreography where many classic moves are subverted; when the Ghosts hold their partners aloft instead of the adopting the traditional ecstatic pose they go limp and lifeless.
Often with a programme that offers a number of routines, there might be one or two strong dances that make up for the less satisfying numbers. But that is not the case with Rambert ‘s current programme where everything – old and new-is of a very high standard.
Runs until 30 September 2017 | Image: Jane Hobson