E2 7SD ★★★★★
Killer Pig ★★★★★
Ghost Dances ★★★★★
Rambert2 are Britain’s first junior ensemble attached to a repertoire company. Picked from among a deluge of applicants from around the world, the current 13 dancers are spending a year touring theatres and halls where few others reach, as well as visiting schools throughout the UK
Young they may be, but the dancers of Rambert2 take to the stage at Sadler’s Wells with aplomb in a programme assembled to show off their versatility.
Grey Matter, from Rambert2 Artistic Director Benoit Swan Pouffer, shows many of the tropes of current dance fashion: stygian gloom (lighting design by Lee Curran), a highly rhythmic thumping score from GAIKA, and science as an inspiration. The title, the programme tells us, refers to the mass of neuronal cells in our brain, which control many of our actions.
Not that the dance is a literal translation of the scientific concept; it is more of an exploration of group dynamics for the whole company, dressed in flimsy whites with dashes of red and orange. In their elastic stretching and swaying, the group create scenes of extraordinary beauty; the choreography is demanding, yet gentle, its overriding tone a study in inclusivity.
Rafael Bonachela’s multi award-winning E2 7SD, named after the postcode for Hackney Road in London, where the dancers of the work’s first performance lived, presents a sharp contrast with what went before. An intensely physical and emotional duet, it’s danced to what Bonachela describes as a ‘sound sculpture,’ an assembly of urban sounds and snatches of speech.
E2 7SD dancers Conor Kerrigan, Aishwarya Raut, (c) Foteini Christofilopoulou
It is a contest, a matching of forces; there is challenge, aggression, love and despair; Conor Kerrigan and Aishwarya Raut dance with tremendous conviction and fearlessness.
Sharon Eyal’s Killer Pig, to a very loud, very repetitive thumping score by her regular collaborator Ori Lichtik, is an endurance test both for its seven dancers and the audience alike. At 50 minutes long, by the half-hour mark this reporter started losing the will to live. It’s a credit to its seven dancers that they mastered Eyal’s posturing physicality; but really, somebody ought to point out to the choreographer that generally less is more.
And then there is veteran choreographer Christopher Bruce’s magisterial Ghost Dances, performed by the senior company, Rambert.
Ghost Dances, Rambert, Festival Theatre Edinburgh, photo Jane Hobson
Inspired by the murderous brutality of the Pinochet regime in Chile, and intended as an homage to the victims of dictatorship in South America and beyond, Ghost Dances is a work of infinite poignancy, one that, now in its 37th year, has lost none of its power.
It is set in an underworld ruled by three death-like figures, where a group of bedraggled men and women slowly file in to the plangent sounds of South American folk music played live. They are the latest set of victims; and in their dances they enact their lives just before death intervened: a couple of radiant newly-wed peasants, an older middle class pair, two women (sisters, perhaps?) a single man…
The choreography blends the language of contemporary dance with that of Latin American folk dance; and one of the extraordinary achievements of this work is that, though it is not literally a narrative, it speaks to us with gut-wrenching clarity.
The finale, when the entire group launch into a defiant dance – heads held high, before being inexorably dragged into the realm of death – never fails to bring tears to the eyes.
Rambert have been performing Ghost Dances for many years, and it is deeply imbedded in their bodies. They gave a faultless, highly emotional performance, one that truly anchored a variable evening.
Age Guidance: 5+
Pre-show talk Wed 7 Nov 18:30
|What||Rambert2, Sadler's Wells Review|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
06 Nov 18 – 10 Nov 18, 19:30 Sat mat 14:30 Dur.: 2 hours 50 mins including two intervals
|Website||Click here to book via Sadler's Wells website|