And faced with a tremendous pool of talent and eagerness to perform what do choreographers do? Load them with heaps of concept, the more abstruse and pretentious the better, and require very little actual dancing.
Thus, according to a random sample of programme notes, ‘Terms and Conditions considers the plausible motives and consequences relative to the questions: does this behaviour (nature?) demonstrate a loss of humanity or a necessary capacity for evolution?’
Or, ‘forget conventional, oversimplifying or automated rules of reasoning. The body is the chance of being without reducing.’
The former pertains to the first piece in this triple bill, Terms and Conditions. It bears the signature of Jermaine Maurice Spivey, who’s an excellent dancer, but no choreographer. Spivey is a member of Crystal Pite’s Kidd Pivot company, and he has created a sub-Pite work.
Rambert2 in Jermaine Maurice Spivey's Terms and Conditions, photo Steven Wright
Terms and Conditions uses the spoken word, but not exactly to enlighten. A dancer stands at a microphone and orders her cohorts, all dressed in white boiler suits, to repeat words: progress, participate, family, society. As they do so, the challenge becomes more complicated: for example, when talking about family you can’t use the word family.
The dancers are not provided with music, but rather with Sound Design (by Frances Gardner). When that sounds, they get to move, the piece proceeding with a sort of solemn self-regard that doesn’t actually equate with dancing.
The second quote comes from the final work in the programme, Andrea Miller’s Sama (picture top), a title which apparently combines the Greek word for ‘body’ and the Slovenian ‘by herself.’
Here, in a faux Asian ambience that involves ritual chanting, and costumes ranging in tones between bright orange and deep red, the stage is plunged in the stygian gloom which seems to be de rigueur for much contemporary work.
However, at least the dancers get to dance: the piece builds up to an ever more frenzied, stomping trance-like ritual intended to assert the primacy of our physical beings; though why we need circus acts like dancers on stilts is anybody’s guess.
These two new works sandwich a short duet choreographed by Damien Jalet and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, which was originally part of their 2010 Olivier Award-winning Babel(works).
Rambert2, Prince Lyons and Minouche Van de Ven in Sin, photo Steven Wright
Entitled Sin, this is an intense, highly physical work that illustrates the constant changes of balance between two lovers, and was performed by two outstanding dancers, Prince Lyons and Minouche Van de Ven.
She appears first as the temptress, her body wrapping itself around his in ever more serpentine and impossible ways, his initial resistance eventually melting. The balance shifts. They roll on the floor. This duet is essentially a test of partnering, and the two dancers acquit themselves superbly.
On balance, though, you can’t help feeling that such promising dancers are worthy of better material; and material that maybe – just maybe – allows them to feel and show the sheer joy of dancing.
|What||Rambert2, Triple Bill Review|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
04 Nov 19 – 05 Nov 19, 19:30 Dur.: 1 hour 30 mins
|Website||Click here to book|