Rambert Dance Company
'Linear Remains,' 'Five Brahms Waltzes,' 'Reflection,' 'A Tragedy of Fashion'
by Thea Nerissa Barnes
May 25, 2004 -- Sadler's Wells, London
Image: Melanie Teall in Ashton's "Five Brahms Waltzes", photo by Anthony Crickmay
Called a choreographer’s company, Rambert is a seventy-eight year old repertory company with an incredibly long list of works that span the fluctuations of several generations of dance in the twentieth and twenty-first century. In the twentieth century, classical ballet would revise its attention to canonical adherences and be swayed by expressionism, jazz, modern then post-modern performers and choreographers from America and Europe.
It is said Marie Rambert, the founder of Rambert, was inspired to dance once seeing the revolutionary modern dancer Isadora Duncan perform in 1904. Seventeen years later in 1921 in London, Duncan stirred the young choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton because her persona, movement deft and grace succeeded in transcendence because “when she moved she left herself behind.” Ashton would then choreograph "Five Brahms Waltzes" for Lynn Seymour in 1976 in adoration of Duncan for Rambert's 50th anniversary gala. Duncan’s performative act reclaimed dance as an affirmation of humanity and opposed the early twentieth century approach to classical ballet’s theory and practice. Duncan dismissed the conventions of classical ballet -- used classical music as her metronome and a bare stage, bare feet, and Greek togas -- her trademark for free, expressionistic dance.
In this the centenary of Frederick
Ashton’s birth, the rethink and reconstruction of two of his works, "A
Tragedy of Fashion," which opened on the bill of the first performance
of Rambert Dance Company in 1926, and "Five Brahms Waltzes in the
Manner of Isadora Duncan," first performed by Lynn Seymour in 1976,
stands between and after two abstract works of this twenty first century.
Rambert’s presentation at Sadler’s Wells on May 25, 2004 celebrates the
narrative ballet and the personalities of past extraordinary artists,
and with a selection from two twenty first century choreographers, illustrates
the current trend for more aggressive investigations into the unfathomable
possibilities of pure movement.
One has to remember Duncan was
a revolutionary and surmise that she danced because she had a message
to deliver. There was a thirst and desperation there that culminated in
the tenacity to defy conventions and inspire an alternative art practice.
Hollingsworth did not have to be Duncan, but seems like she could have
embodied more of the ideals that made Duncan who she was instead of the
shapes that everyone remembers. This solo seemed to miss an attention
to “why” Duncan danced as she did while conjuring only “what” was done.
These works propose a question, a "what if….?" and then the realization of a piece of dance art. An expansion on line becomes an entanglement, an encounter, a moment to wrap around or violently explode from. Bonachela and Walker offer their alternative approaches to the proposition and realize different aesthetic preferences. The "Brahms Waltzes" and "A Tragedy of Fashion" are a reminder of times when the proposition was a need to articulate lived experience or be an extension of it. Here too is an expansion on line, entanglement, an encounter, a moment to wrap around then violently explode from.Ashton and the savored muse he found in Duncan speak of a time when dance was done because a person had to do it, not because they could. Out of the entire evening, this was the one elusive ingredient that slipped around corners or dissipated before entering the stalls. Quite wonderful dancing, but perhaps not enough to be cherished in the mind’s eye like Ashton’s fifty-five year remembrance of Isadora Duncan.
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