tue 16/07/2024

Rambert Triple Bill, Sadler's Wells | reviews, news & interviews

Rambert Triple Bill, Sadler's Wells

Rambert Triple Bill, Sadler's Wells

It's all about the music in this diverse programme of modern dance

The Comedy Of ChangeHugo Glendinning

After a busy year, moving their headquarters from Chiswick to new premises on the South Bank, Rambert dance company have managed to keep momentum working with stalwarts such as Ashley Page and Mark Baldwin as well as branching out with exciting new choreography by Barak Marshall.

Opening the evening with a world premiere by Ashley Page - his first work for a UK company since leaving the Scottish Ballet last year - Subterrain is a plotless piece that serves to showcase the supreme talents of this vibrant company. The movement is strong and mesmerizing although not particularly moving. The bold shapes and sharpened balletic steps are attacked with powerful limbs and rhythmic rigour to the tune of Mark-Anthony Turnage. But the dance really comes into its own when Aphex Twin plays in the second section, a haunting electro score, seemingly enjoyed more by both the audience and the dancers. The shifts in dynamic and mood are subtle, the autumn coloured, semi-steampunk style costumes gently easing us into the evening. Components of an idea come down with a prop ceiling and backdrop of an open door - perhaps alluding to the surface streets of everyday life, that which we talk about but that which is never quite said? Although this seems to be a piece less about analysis and more about letting the music and the movement wash over you.

The CastawaysArtistic Director Mark Baldwin's The Company Of Change comes next, amalgamating science and dance in an exploration of Darwin's theories of evolution set to music by Julian Anderson. Conceptually it's interesting and stylistically it's striking with images of change, emerging from the chrysalis to a new beginning. Dancers in black-backed white-fronted unitards emerge from spiny white cocoons, slow and slinky, performing animalistic gestures, creeping around on all fours or jutting necks like lizards. The music is anticipatory with jittery flutes and fluttering strings, sometimes corresponding to the choreography, sometimes placed as if by chance. Dane Hurst triumphs in his role, prowling, jumping and rolling. His movement is almost Nijinskian-faun-like, with flexed feet, sharp knee and elbow angles and two dimensional facing to the audience. The piece veers between picturesque montage scenes and bursts of beautiful contemporary ballet.

Saving the best for last, Israeli born choreographer Barak Marshall's The Castaways lifts the energy, brightens the program and has the audience practically jigging along. Set in some sort of post-apocalyptic bunker a group of characters - the sad bride, greedy beggar, mean girls, dreamer, latino lovers and crazy Russian soldier - try to work out where they are and why. The pale faced dark eyed Tim Burton make-up and unanswered questions would suggest purgatory, but any rational questions are left unanswered. Instead we see stories emerge between couples, groups are formed and battles won. Group scenes of jerky, rhythmic stamping, cheeky hip thrusts and convulsive throws dominate. Combining playful spoken word and humourous gestural movement to a string of world music, from Yiddish harmonies to Spanish ditties, this is theatrical dance at its very best.

Overleaf: Watch a clip from The Comedy of Change

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