ContemporaryDancePhysical TheatreReviewSouth East

Rambert – Theatre Royal, Brighton

Artistic Director: Mark Baldwin

Choreographers: Aletta Collins, Ben Duke, Andonis Foniadakis, Itzik Galili, Julie Cunningham

Reviewer: Cathy Swaby

Rambert’s three-part show is pulsing and visually mesmerising. Dancers bend and fold themselves around the stage to poignant music and equally poignant themes. Firstly, we witness Symbiosis where the scaled scantily clad team writhe and flit to beautiful orchestral electronica music, furtively enacting the modern world of chaos, speed and urbanity. The set is simple and metallic, rather like a twisted cage, and this initial showcase is a perfect start to the evening’s proceedings.

Composer Ilan Eshkeri’s classical journey compliments the primal dynamism of the aesthetically pleasing cast. The audience is left feeling rather static, and mutterings of awe about what the human body is actually capable of, can be heard during the first of two intervals, all of us shamefully sunk into our seats, motionless. Splitting the show into parts in such a way is a clever way of ensuring we do not fall asleep, and we are encouraged to absorb the movement before us as short perceptible stories rather than relentless plot guessing, which can be cumbersome with longer ballet creations. 

The succeeding performance To Be Me is contrasting, with the omnipotent poet prophetic voice of Kate Tempest billowing rhythmically alongside the primitive display of red and black garbed androgynous men and women on the stage. For this, choreographer Julie Cunningham and Company were inspired by the Greek mythological story of Tiresias, a blind prophet who has a gift for intuition, and Tempest’s unconventional and inspiring spoken word slightly overpowers the execution, meaning that the dancers are secondary to the narrative. Many of the crowd spend most of the second production distractedly looking for where this educative voice is coming from which sadly detracts from what we are here to watch- a ballet. Tempest is certainly appreciated but somehow doesn’t compliment the subtle storyline, despite the movement matching her hip hop tempo. We are left wanting more of her lyrical guidance, than wanting more of the lycra.

Rambert’s aim with this tour is to evoke modern life and each representation is expertly portrayed. Part art, part acrobatics, this celebration of the human body’s velocity and the human spirit’s need for interaction with others, is well received by the Brighton’s slightly lightweight audience with a scattering of standing ovations at each sitting.

The final part of the programme, Goat, has a Black Mirror-esque feel to it, with a comical and more dialogued storyline of a television show, and the farce that can come from this. Choreographer Ben Duke’s piece is more visually agreeable for those wanting a more interactive stage show, and by using the spine-tingling music of Nina Simone performed Nia Lynn and her onstage band,  it creates a heart-stomping experience as the dancers conjoin, collapse and magnetically come together, as the audience sway in their seats. It is a fitting finale to the trio of delights that Rambert have given us on this stretch of their UK tour. For ballet lovers and music lovers alike, this jewel of modern performance art is a must see for all ages.

Reviewed on 21 March 2018 | Image: Stephen Wright

Review Overview

The Reviews Hub Score

Visually mesmerising

The Reviews Hub - Yorkshire & North East

The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Mark Clegg. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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