Following their very successful “themed” programme at the Edinburgh Festival of works to Mahler song cycles, Rambert Dance Company presented an excellent but more mixed programme for their short season at Sadler’s Wells.
Rafael Bonachela’s Irony of Fate, a duet for dancer (Amy Hollingsworth) and violinist (Ruth Palmer) was a taut work, the dancer constantly stretched by the development of the music. A short and absorbing piece, very well performed by both artists.
I saw Songs of a Wayfarer by Kim Brandstrap as part of the Edinburgh programme, and this was its London premiere. It is an interesting work, and is particularly well danced by Thomacin Gulgec and Ana Lujan Sanchez as the principal protagonists, a young man obsessed with a girl, and the girl who does not reciprocate and whose interests may be elsewhere. The work seemed to project better than it did in Edinburgh, despite the continued use of a gauze scrim across the front of the stage for the duration. This may have been due to stronger lighting, or perhaps because I was sitting fairly centrally in the third row of the stalls. Certainly visibility was better, but watching dancers with permanent cross-hatching is irritating if you are near the stage. If you are not, front-of-stage gauzes obscure the dancers and muddy the stage picture. I wonder how much was seen by patrons in the deeper recesses of the theatre? This may be the designer’s and even the choreographer’s, objective, but audiences come to watch dancers, not to half watch them. It is rather like having a strange new version of a “restricted view” seat. If the gauze is dumped, at least for most of the time, I feel the piece will come across much more strongly.
The revival of Michael Clark’s Swamp is a great idea. This is by far the best thing he has done, though I somehow missed it the first time round. When Clark combines his capacity for innovation with his classical background, the outcome can be work of great beauty. This reworked revival is elegantly costumed, well lit, and very strongly danced by all concerned. Merely a personal favourite, but I loved the combination of Alex Whitley (calm) and Amy Hollingsworth (cool).
Elsa Canasta by Javier de Frutos provided the entertaining finale to this well balanced programme. Indeed, this work full of all sorts of naughties, is fast becoming a crowd pleaser like Bruce’s Rooster. Could Rambert Dance Company have performed this work in the early days of its operation as a modern dance company? I think not, but times and mores have changed. It is interesting also how changes of casting in an established work can give a different emphasis. Now Renaud Wiser is a younger looking partner for Thomacin Gulgec in the first duet, and his youth and intensity gave the piece a slightly different nuance.
So, a super programme. Rambert Dance Company is currently performing at the very top of its game.