ContemporaryDanceNorth East & YorkshireReview

Rambert – Alhambra Theatre, Bradford

Reviewer: Rich Jevons

Choreographers: Wayne McGregor, Marion Motin, Hofesh Shechter

Rambert’s ballet triple bill commences with Wayne McGregor’s PreSentient, first created in 2002. It has master of minimalism Steve Reich’s Triple Quartet as a soundtrack. Initially Kym Sojourna dominates the stage alone with an androgynous look to her, dimly lit by Lucy Carter’s thin shafts of light. Then six partners proceed with complex interaction: couples changing and leaving then returning to bask in the brightly lit stage. There are many lifts and leaps and the movement is sinewy and deliberately cramped. The dancers perfectly match the repetition and pauses of the music. Their presentation is sensual with spins, stretches and limp torsos carried around. McGregor succeeds in creating an intricate and demanding piece which sets a high bar for the rest of the evening.

However Marion Motin’s Rouge manages to live up to PreSentient with fine finesse and superb style. Micka Luna’s music is performed live by an onstage guitarist and makes great use of distortion and sustained chords. At first the dancers are recumbent in the dry ice but they then stand to reveal Yann Seabra’s colourful anoraks and nightgowns. Throughout the show the dancers are standing then falling in a repetitive manner. At times they simply stand and stare, or else stagger around the stage in unison. Powerful drums are added to the musical mix with the group doing floor work with flailing limbs. At this point Judith Leray’s lighting consists of a simply red neon line but this becomes more movable, highlighting the performers at will. Despite the beauty of Seabra’s costumes, the troupe undress to become topless. They fall and catch each other in partners often spinning each other around to the sound of the thrashing power chords and in the sight of flashing lights. Overall there is an urban feel and the style is very contemporary, although there are also more classical skills on display. Motin has created something that despite the lack of narrative captures our imaginations and bursts with creative energy.

Hofesh Shecter’s In your rooms benefits greatly from Lee Curran’s inventive lighting with bright areas highlighting vignettes of movement. Effective use is made also of Neil Catchpole’s score which is performed live on strings and drums, set high up onstage. Initially the dancers’ movement is restricted as they are kneeling so using only their upper torso, a posture reverted to several times. Shechter is not without humour both in the voice-over and by displaying a sign saying: ‘Don’t follow leaders, follow me!’ At times you feel you are in a political demonstration with the full group punching into the air. And there is also an effective use of posture where the movement includes bending and creeping around the stage. In a way similar to Motin’s work the troupe are often falling and then lying recumbent. And there is a definite shift in the pacing when the strings and percussion give way to industrial rhythms with flailing limbs responding to the pumping groove. Shechter’s work is longer and more complex than the previous two but is equally absorbing and eclectically radical.

Rambert are a company renowned for risk-taking and pushing the boundaries of ballet and this trio of works displays why they are so successful at this experimental and innovative approach.

Runs until 14th February 2020

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