(Apologies for the posting of this review a little late, much more to come in 2014!).
The Ballet Rambert has a long and glorious history and still goes from strength to strength. In an ensemble company, every dancer counts, and every dancer here represents the best. The Ballet Rambert invites guest choreographers to create pieces for it. Its collaborators read like a who’s who of dance and theatre. Marie Rambert, who danced with Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, was its founder: [some of the names are not correctly spelled]
The company still performs some of the early and original dances, this one by Nijinsky, created for Diaghilev in May 1912, one hundred years ago:
A Study of L’Apres-midi d’un Faune.
This evening’ s performance [October 22, 2013] began with ‘Subterrain’ by Ashley Page. In a somewhat claustrophobic, shadowy world, underground, human relationships are explored. There is no narrative; it is pure dance to a score by Mark-Anthony Turnage and Aphex Twin. The programme notes tell us that this collaborative effort ‘allowed chance method approaches to ‘interfere’ with the creative process ,allowing a cross-current of influences […] to infiltrate the work almost at random’. As there is not a clip from this piece, I offer a clip from another Ashley Page piece. The Rambert Company was very at home within the technical demands of the choreography and Page’s more traditional ,but quite beautiful composition.
Guide to Strange Places by Ashley Page.
‘Comedy of Change’ by Mark Baldwin appeared next and provided a strong contrast with the first piece. The composition was to celebrate in 2009 the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s, ‘On the Origin of Species’. Indeed a primeval scene greeted our eyes as the lifting curtain revealed giant eggs/ chrysalises placed irregularly about the stage. Creatures were to emerge from these. The audience experienced the rhythms of Galapgos giant tortoises, as well as the movement, songs and flights of birds. The composer, Julian Anderson says, ‘What intrigues me about animate nature is the way daily needs ([…] for food, for shelter, for procreation) can provoke changes of both behaviour and physical appearance’.(from Programme) He also notes that the extreme lengths animals will go to attract attention seems beyond purely evolutional needs. And therein does lie one element of comedy. Another element of comedy rests in the unexpected changes which can happen. Evolution can be a riot of accidents and the unexpected.I loved this piece but can show only a snapshot:
‘The Castaways’ by Barak Marshall provided the ‘Wow’ factor. In his programme notes, Barak Marshall conceives of his creation as a sort of ‘Huis Clos [No Exit] (my description) in which particular individuals are trapped by their own personalities to perpetuate their weaknesses. Before I read the programme notes, I thought the piece was about many types of castaways: old music, the old country, dated political movements, repetitive human behaviour . Robert Millett who arranged the music says that it draws upon 1930’s New York and modern world fusion, ‘taking in Balkan folk, Yiddish pop and Soviet pomp. There was a touch of Theatre de Complicite in the use of speech in several languages and in what could be called ‘physical theatre’.The dancer’s ability to slip easily into different ethnic styles was amazing, the tempo was exhausting and the audience cheered. As a clip from ‘The Castaways’ was not available. Here is another work by Barak Marshall called ‘Monger, performed by the Batsheva Dance Company.
Finally, in order to show the quality of the Rambert, below are clips from other choreographers:
‘ The Art of Touch’ by Siobhan Davies:
‘Labyrinth of Love ‘ by Marguerite Donlan:
‘Roses’ by Paul Taylor :
‘Little Red Rooster’ by Christopher Bruce: