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Walking along city streets in the evening, the temptation to look into the cosily lit rooms of the homes we pass and imagine what's going on behind those windows is, we daresay, fairly universal. And that very human instinct provides the inspiration for Rooms, the latest digital premiere in the Rambert Home Studio live-stream platform.
Rooms follows on from Draw from Within, the first such work live-streamed to great acclaim last September, and takes the format further. It was devised and directed by the Norwegian choreographer and film/theatre director, Jo Strømgren, and is best described as a piece of dance-theatre, more theatre, perhaps, than dance.
Its 36 scenes take us into a variety of rooms and scenarios. A few are quite realistic: a group of friends sitting around a table chat, laugh, drink red wine, and challenge each other to dance, perhaps as a prelude to sex. Never mind that each speaks his/her own language, they seem to understand each other perfectly. To a retro, sultry, big-band soundtrack, they dance and pair off until only two are left.
Segue into the room next door, where energetic and noisy love-making its taking place. So far, so everyday.
Gradually, though, the scenes become more outlandish. Some are wistful: in a room where soft daylight is filtered through lace curtains a woman clutching a Portuguese pottery cockerel connects dreamily with three men to the yearning sound of the fado.
Others are deliberately comical: a police raid into an underground marijuana plantation descends into chaos.
Others still are bizarre: three young Orthodox Jewish men dance to music that pours out from an old-fashioned radio; but as it abruptly stops, the music is replaced by a scratchy voice speaking in Yiddish, and then the camera pans away to show an observation room next door, where a motley collection of spy-types are watching the men.
Throughout the 17 remarkably versatile dancers of Rambert dance, prance, act and sing, inhabiting 100 characters and forming vortexes of movement or simply living tableaux, inexorably drawing us into their fragmentary worlds.
Rooms is not for everybody, certainly not for children as it contains nudity, sex, a reference to suicide, and a short but horrifying scene of domestic violence. However, if you go with it, Rooms is totally absorbing, a superb example of the marriage between performance, film and digital streaming, a format that has come into its own as a result of the strictures of lockdown. And each stream is unique, bringing us performances filmed and streamed in real time.
It is also interesting because it gives us a clearer idea of where Rambert is going under its new director Benoit Swan Pouffer. Over the past near-century, Britain's oldest ballet company has never ceased evolving with the times, morphing into a contemporary dance company in the mid-60s, and now seemingly moving towards becoming a cutting-edge experimental ensemble.
|What||Rambert, Rooms live-stream review|
|Where||Online | MAP|
09 Apr 21 – 10 Apr 21, 20:00 Dur.: 1 hour
|Price||£10 per ticket (£15 per household)|