Updated on 5 January 2018
Rambert needs no introduction. They are an institution in UK dance and a byword for innovative, imaginative and seminal work. This programme was no exception; with a trio of pieces which revived A Linha Curva and showcased two new pieces: Symbiosis and Goat.
A Linha Curva opens with the ensemble decked out in reflective collars, hot pants, mesh shirts and chanting. The music was performed by the live samba band Percussa, and who were pulsating from the off. Itzik Galili has created a carnival on stage, which comes alive with a kaleidoscope of flashing colour and energetic, high octane movement bringing Sao Paulo to the stage. It was abuzz with eruptions of colour and angular tessellating patterns which were dictated by the lighting grid as it moved across the floor. The fluid and energetic nature was tempered by the precision and timing of the choreography and was punctuated with moments of freestyle before flowing back into the choreography. The lifts and floor work were beautifully intricate. Galili’s choreography is a departure from Rambert’s usual dance language, torsos and hips are looser and the movement quicker reflecting the Brazilian influence. Lighting was as vital to A Linha Curva as the sound or the movement, at no point was it second fiddle and it all dazzled majestically.
Andonis Foniadakis’ Symbiosis was a departure from what was before. The colour palette more subdued (mainly yellows and browns), and the dance less energetic, but more in keeping with Rambert’s usual style. Again the intricacy of the piece was mesmerising, both in ensemble and in smaller groups. There was a constant flow of movement, of both angular and more fluid/ organic in nature, moving in waves across the stage. At times, multiple things happening on stage with the ensemble made it difficult to know where to focus, but when it melted to smaller groups, I was able to better appreciate the beauty of Foniadakis’ complex and sophisticated choreography. IIan Eshkeri’s live composition, and Sakis Birbilis’ lighting augmented Symbiosis, but in following A Linha Curva, the entire piece felt like a bit come down rather than a celebration in its own right.
If Symbiosis was a departure from what it followed, then Ben Duke’s Goat was completely leftfield. It was more theatrical with a vague story of a group of dancers acting out a ritual, and Miguel (one of the dancers) acting – Attenborough style – as narrator to what was unfolding. It was funny in places but felt a little too forced and often felt like it interrupted the flow of the piece. Once this pretence is dispensed with, the writhing ensemble create an amorphous body, before separating to select one sacrificial lamb or maybe goat (Liam). The preamble was unnecessary, the dance carried the message clearly especially the ensemble literally labelling Liam and the beautiful interlocking duet between Liam Francis and Simone Damberg Würtz. However standout performance in Goat belongs to Nia Lynn. Her rendition of several Nina Simone songs was poignant and powerful, more because of the juxtaposition with what was occurring on stage.
Overall, Rambert continues to produce work which is beautiful, evocative and to the highest standard. Despite there being no connection between the pieces, what was clear was the intricacy, and complexity of the choreography Rambert is known for running throughout– it has been a while since I have seen such seamless and striking transitions in choreography too. The inclusion of live music is always an added bonus. It seems to lift everything just that little bit. Some questions could be asked about the programming, with potentially legitimate arguments which could be made for A Linha Curva being the finale with Symbiosis and Goat preceding in whatever order. What is unquestionable, is the commitment to the highest quality of all aspects of Rambert’s work. A triumphant return to Sadler’s stage.