It is also, perhaps, a tad too long.
Loosely drawing inspiration from the strange times we’re all living through – how could he not? – Vandekeybus has created a work deliberately meant to highlight the contradictions human beings are made up of; and in characteristic style he does so by resorting to often surreal, sometimes nightmarish, mostly frenzied, and always sharply theatrical scenes.
It starts with a young girl dressed in white scratching the work’s title on a rough wall; this girl, Olive, will resurface much later as part of Draw From Within’s loose narrative.
In a kind of pre-recorded prologue, two very stylish young men appear on the roof of Rambert’s South Bank building against the skyline of London by night; to a vaguely Spanish brass tune they rehearse their disco moves, before one speaks the lines of a Ted Hughes poem about nothingness.
‘So, finally there was nothing’, it starts.
Soon we’re immersed in a gruesome scene: a dishevelled woman gestures with a knife; another cradles a human heart in bloody gloved hands; yet another smiles revealing a mouthful of rotten teeth… all this evolving slowly under a baleful reddish light.
And then, as if momentarily emerging from a nightmare, we’re live in a cavernous studio, where one dancer at the time enters carrying a fire stick, and drawing smoke shapes in the air. Soon they are all dancing, individually, barely aware of each other and never touching, accompanied by guitar music with Spanish and north African overtones.
The mood changes abruptly and we’re plunged into a dark scene: under a cone of sickly yellow light projected from above, a woman and two men enact their despair to the haunting vocals of a Balkan song. Now they touch, clutching each other as if yearning for a shred of human warmth.
In perhaps the most sinister sequence, a woman in the throes of childbirth staggers in, her screams piercing, an upside-down body wrapped around her middle so tightly it’s impossible to discern its shape. As the body slowly lets go, so a dancer kitted out as a TV presenter complete with microphone narrates the birth in ever more excitable tones. The uncannily precocious ‘child’ soon grows into a tyrant…
And so Draw From Within progresses, juxtaposing scenes, moods, and intimations, the choreography a high-octane blend of contemporary dance language, break-dancing, and expressionist movement.
After just over an hour you come up for air, dazed and a little confused, as the extent to which Draw From Within has drawn you into its multilayered world gradually dawns.
Because it’s live-streamed. Draw From Within can only be seen as it’s being performed. In the UK you have just two more chances to see it. We recommend you fortify yourself with a stiff drink, and do so.
Times, details and tickets (£10 each) here.
|What||Rambert, Draw from Within review|
|Where||Online | MAP|
24 Sep 20 – 27 Sep 20, Thu at 12:00; Fri at 20:00; Sun at 01:00 Dur.:1 hour 10 mins