Artistic Director: Benoit Swan Pouffer
Reviewer: Dominic Corr
A dancer’s ability stretches beyond the confines of simple movement, as storytellers, a superbly talented dancer is also a crafter of narrative. At times, the lack of a voice has drawbacks, but Rambert (in particular) excels in the extraordinary, the delicate marriage of movement and tale. A trio of performances, which couldn’t be more different if they tried, each evoke particular emotional responses – whether this is the waving bursts of Presentient, the righteous indignation of In Your Rooms, or the headbanging preservation with Rogues. Whichever you prefer, Rambert once again demonstrates their keen ability to go beyond movement, and into artistry.
Tight, claustrophobic and a relentless assault of choreography, Presentient transforms the Rambert dancers into a wave of mobile syntaxes, a grown-up Sesame Street if you will. Certainly, the most ethereal, Wayne McGregor’s choreography ebbs and flows with the soundscape, manifesting an intense wall of billowing movement. There’s a sense of continuous movement, unnervingly so, as the dancers retract into a tight-knit group. Cast against Lucy Carter’s lighting design, otherworldly yet complimenting the soft pastels of Ursula Bombshell’s costumes – Presentient is a furrowing piece which feels held back by its inability to move outside of its confines.
Sandwiching between the opener and closing performance, Marion Motin’s Rogue strides ahead as a significantly brutal, mesmeric piece of movement. When the husk we clad ourselves in burns away, removing material possessions, our shields and homes, what sort of person is left behind – and what does it take to survive? Rouge, with echoes of the horrors of Grenfell, feels the most tangible of the triple bill, it’s metaphorical contexts grounded in Yann Seabra’s costume design, accelerating perception of the dancer’s proposed character.
Visceral, Motin’s choreography ensures a sense of fatigue, though far from an issue, this is the purpose of the piece. Every stretch of muscle, each collapse and push for the dancers to communicate a sense of ‘carrying on’ is visible. That when the world around you collapses, we find this primal resource to survive, our biological machines working to the fullest to the beating rhythm behind us.
If Micka Luna’s composition doesn’t evoke memories of long, regretful but exhilarating nights out, or push you back into the club-scene check your pulse. The rhythmic thrashing ensnares spectators, drawn to the pulsing movements as they march, drum and drop into the smouldering shadows. In pace with not only the dancers, Judith Leray’s lighting is also an assault on the senses, commanding our attention and conjuring a refusal to look away.
Control is the name of the game with Hofesh Shechter’s closing production of In Your Rooms, or rather, the lack of control. Much of the Shechter’s lively choreography feels alien, distant to the audience, but glimmers with emotional recognition. Quite often we see these repetitious patterns bubble over in select performers, their physicality broken and overburdened as they leap sporadically, or crumple into the mess laying around them. The only piece with a voice-over, noting the building blocks of the universe and how he can comically; ‘do better’, it adds an extra element to the dynamic, though overstays by a minute or two.
Narrative is key for artistic director Benoit Swan Pouffer’s vision of Rambert’s triple bill. Above tight choreography, which is a given, Puffer’s desire for dancers with a purpose behind the talent, and ability to stand as both form and storyteller is evident, is part of Rambert’s issue here. Singularly, there is no fault in the movement, nor inherently with the pieces, instead, the flow staggers as two productions sit overshadowed by their middle sibling, detaching them from our expectations.
Reviewed on 21 February 2020 | Image: Contributed