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Rambert Dance Company
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Author:  David [ Tue May 26, 2009 3:18 am ]
Post subject:  Rambert Dance Company

Rambert Dance Company
Season of New Choreography (programme 1)
Queen Elizabeth Hall, London; May 22, 2009

Rambert Dance Company has always recognised the importance of promoting choreographic talent found within the company’s own ranks, and this year presents three evenings of works by company dancers.

Given that all the choreographers in this first programme were among the more experienced in the company’s ranks, much of the dance on show was disappointing. Like many of the pieces on show, Alexander Whitley’s “Iatrogenesis” seemed to be full of expansive arms, often used with great energy, at speed, and in huge sweeping movements that hovered up the space. While initially pleasant enough, the work rather drifted along with Guy Connelly’s lacklustre colourless score, never really developing, and never really going anywhere. Not for the only time in the evening I despaired for tone and contrast.

“Conversaciones”, a solo created and danced by Clara Barberá, similarly rather lacked conviction and connection with the audience. The programme talked about a spiral of anxiety, confusion and irrationality, but it was difficult to see any of that as she moved around the stage. Barberá may have been having a conversation with herself, but it was one that stayed very private.

Things picked up a little with Mikaela Polley’s “Meridian,” although it got off to a difficult start, the dancers seeming to be working against Robert Millet’s score, somewhat surprising since the work was billed as a collaboration. Although it never really took off, the work picked up considerably, especially in the main duet that formed its centrepiece that proved dance does not have to be high speed, high energy to make an impact. Apparently about male-female relationships, it was nice to see a work that communicated meaning and connected with the audience.

The largest work of the evening with a cast of 12 was Patricia Okenwa’s “Mammon.” Dressed in khaki costumes, and opening with two protagonists surrounded by the other dancers as if prize-fighters, it certainly projected more than a hint of menace and violence. Although sometimes muddled, and having many of the same problems as earlier works, “Mammon” did gain interest as it proceeded. It was certainly full of energy.

As last year, it was a work by Martin Joyce and Angela Towler that really stood out. In what was also by far the best programme note of the evening, they explained how they use music to inspire them. And it showed! “Brevity” was by far the most well-crafted and musical piece of the evening. The starting point was a game of chess. Initially there was an almost militaristic feel as the eight dancers moved vertically, horizontally and diagonally around the stage as if in a game of strategy and they were indeed chess pieces come to life. But it quickly developed into a much more courtly setting, the dance filled with delicate and meaningful courtly gestures and formations. The costumes, music, lighting and dance all came together in a highly satisfying, theatrical whole. “Brevity” definitely deserves a wider audience and cries out to be taken into the main company repertory.

This review will subsequently appear in the magazine with images.

Rambert Dance Company’s Season of New Choreography continues at The Place with two further programmes on 9 and 10 June.

Author:  AnaM [ Mon Jun 08, 2009 3:50 am ]
Post subject: 

I completely agree with David's comments and thoughts. The evening was -with the exception of Brevity, a beautiful and well developed work- a complete disappointment. The choreography shown on the stage resembled at times the kind of work one would expect from "A" Level students, not professional dancers under the banner of a national company.

But, I would like to highlight the programme notes that Mark Baldwin wrote for the occasion and that contained a dedication to Diaghilev as an "ex-dancer, choreographer and artistic director"....

No comments... simply no comments for such nonsense. The dance world should indeed celebrate Diaghilev and his achievements this year. However, that the director of a dance company that owes its very identity to the Diaghilev heritage should display his complete ignorance of who Diaghilev was and what he did is heart breaking... can anybody explain to me how such verbal nonsense came to be printed and handed out to the audience?

It seems to me dance is suffering from an alarming lack of memory. If we are not able to keep the memory of that which made dance great during the 20th century, who will??? If the directors and people in charge of honouring a genius like Diaghilev fail at celebrating his memory because they can't be bothered to know what his achievements were... what chance is there that future generations will ever know how 20th century dance developed?

Celebrating Diaghilev with Les Sylphides and Firebird is a bit shortsighted, celebrating Diaghilev as a means to showcase your male artists in residence under the "Etonne-moi!" motto is a bit deja vú, celebrating Diaghilev as an ex-dancer and choreographer is... well, insulting.

Author:  David [ Sat Nov 07, 2009 2:54 am ]
Post subject:  Tread Softly, Carnival of the Animals, The Comedy of Change

Tread Softly, Carnival of the Animals, The Comedy of Change
Rambert Dance Company
Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London; November 3, 2009

To say that Henri Oguike’s new work, “Tread Softly”, is busy would be an understatement. The calm, slow, and silent opening in which a man approaches a woman laying on the floor, and carefully stands on her stomach is quite lovely. It is a motif repeated and varied later in the work. But it is also a rare moment of peace in a work that is an orgy of almost relentless action.

Although the piece is danced to Mahler’s 1894 orchestration of Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden,” death is not what the music or dance is about. It is possible to read short narratives into the multiple duets that come and go, but Oguike’s choreography is, pure and simple, a reflection of the energy of music.

And what energy. The dance is infused with fast, often edgy movement, with several references to Oguike’s African dance style. Some things are overdone. I don’t think quite so many pelvic gyrations to get the message, but on the whole Oguike doesn’t stay with an idea for so long that you get bored.

Yet there is almost too much action and too little contrast. I suspect that “Tread Softly” is one of those pieces that will benefit from multiple viewings. There is so much going on that afterwards the movement itself all seemed rather a blur. What did stick in the memory was Yaron Abuulaifia’s alluring lighting, often shadowy, but at its best when he constructs lines of light on an otherwise almost dark stage that define different spaces.

Respite came with Siobhan Davies’ “Carnival of the Animals.” Maybe it is because each piece of music is so short that it is difficult to develop an idea or character, but more than one choreographer has struggled to create an entirely satisfactory work to Saint-Saëns’ score. There is also a very fine line between taking only the movement quality of a particular animal, and imitation or mime. The latter, which Davies succumbs to on occasion, can easily lead to pantomimic humour, something I have never enjoyed.

The best parts of “Carnival” come when Davies focuses on the qualities inherent in the music and in a particular animal’s movement rather than attempting to reproduce or abstract certain aspects of the movement per se. Alexander Whiteley was sublime as the swan, moving beautifully from one graceful arabesque or attitude to another. The only direct reference to a swan comes when he makes the shape of a swan’s neck with his arm. It is so subtle it is easily missed. Other highlights include the “Characters with long ears” - actually a dancer walking on his hands, and the waltz in the aquarium, although I could do without the later swimming mime.

Davies also scores well by setting the work in the context of a good-mannered house party, with everyone in white jackets or tailcoats. This is a clever reflection of the weekend get together enjoyed by Saint-Saëns’ and his friends during which the music was composed.

Animals were also the theme of Mark Baldwin’s “The Comedy of Change” that closed the evening. Made to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species,” this is rather a different take on animals and their behaviour. The title comes from the idea that mistakes and accidents that are fundamental to the process of evolution, although the work also seems to owe much to that of the late Merce Cunningham.

It is a fascinating and extremely watchable piece. It opens with seven chrysalises on stage, designed by Kader Attia, from which the dancers emerge, although the almost translucent structures are immediately and unceremoniously pushed to the back of the stage and soon disappear, never to be seen again.

Dressed in Georg Meyer-Wiel’s simple but strikingly effective unitards, white at the front and black at the back, the dancers dance a series of highly engaging rituals, full of effortless intertwining bodies, jumps and lifts. Despite the chrysalises of the opening, most of the movement inspiration comes from birds, especially their mating dances. The costumes are partly a reference to animal camouflage but also indicate the opposition between survival and extinction but on a practical level allow the dancers to disappear into the all black or all white background very easily.

Julian Anderson’s new score, similarly inspired by the sounds of animals and birds, is decidedly not tuneful, but it does provided a structure for the work. And unlike Oguike’s earlier work, “The Comedy of Change” is uncluttered and he allows time and space for the audience to take everything in.

Rambert Dance Company continue on tour to Bath, Norwich and Northampton in 2009. In 2010 they are due to visit Brighton, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Mold, Newcastle and Sheffield. See for details.

Author:  David [ Sun May 30, 2010 6:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Rambert Dance Company

The Art of Touch, Rainforest, A Linha Curva
Rambert Dance Company
Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London; May 25, 2010

Every so often you come across a piece of contemporary dance that is so beautiful, so at one with the music and everything around it, that you just can’t take your eyes off the stage. The lucky Sadler’s Wells audience got two such gems on Rambert’s latest London programme.

Siobhan Davies’ 1995 classic “The Art of Touch” considers the different ways dancers touch the floor with their feet, touch each other and the space with their limbs and, most of all, make contact with the music with their dance. Part play, part conversation, always thoughtful, it is an utterly beguiling composition the like of which is rarely seen from contemporary choreographers today who seem to prefer the loud, instant, in your face approach.

Against David Buckland’s burnished copper coloured set, mysteriously lit by Ian Beswick, the dancers perfectly embodied the sounds of Carole Cerasi’s playing of Matteo Fargion’s juxtaposition of Scarlatti harpsichord sonatas with his own gentler compositions. The cast of seven embodied perfectly the different emotions in the music. At times they even seemed to be plucking the notes out of the air with their bodies. There was so much detail, so much complex choreography, so much to watch, especially in a delicate adagio danced by Angela Towler and Jonathan Goddard, and a supremely expressive solo by the outstanding Pieter Symonds.

Class was just as equally written through Merce Cunningham’s “Rainforest”. It may be over 40 years old, but this 1968 work remains utterly mesmerising. As ever with Cunningham there is no literal depiction of the setting. Instead the dancers are presented against and amongst Andy Warhol’s silver helium-filled pillows that float around the stage as if engaged in their own weird abstract ballet. With the dancers as light as a feather too, it seems like gravity, perhaps even reality, has suddenly been suspended. It all makes you wonder if someone dropped something in your intermission drink.

The drug induced atmosphere was added to by David Tudor’s soundscape of assorted humming, rustling trees and tropical sounding bird calls, roars and hums. In their torn, nude-look torn unitards the dancers come and go. They cuddle, touch, meet and part. The unexpected becomes the norm. Relationships form and break without warning. It is all classic Cunningham choreography, with a superb display of classic Cunningham technique to match. Even the pillows join in, forever doing the unexpected. Occasionally one is kicked by a dancer. Sometimes, as on this occasion, one settles right downstage slightly obscuring the view. It all adds a chance element, making every show different.

Rambert Artistic Director Mark Baldwin was certainly spot on when describing the programme as one of contrasts. If “The Art of Touch” and “Rainforest” are classic dishes from the high table of choreography, perfectly seasoned and served with grace and delicacy, Itzik Galili’s “A Linha Curva” is definitely McDonald’s fare. Not that there is anything wrong with the occasional Big Mac and shake - and boy did the dancers shake - I just wouldn’t want to feast on it all the time.

“A Linha Curva” is all very tribal. Originally made for the Balét de Gdade de Sao Paulo, it certainly has the infectious energy of Brazilian carnival or beach life. In their colourful lycra shorts and mesh tops the cast of 28, so big that the company had to call on students from the Rambert School to make up the numbers, yell, stomp, show off and fool around to their utmost. They rush in and out like waves crashing and receding on a Brazilian beach.

This was all accompanied by four percussionists perched on a raised platform above the action. They played Dutch composer Percossa’s score with great verve, their drumming, singing, chanting and body percussion perfectly synchronised with the light and action below.

The audience lapped it up. The youngsters whooped and hollered with the dancers. Mind you, that seems to happen so often these days it has stopped being any indication of quality. Examine Galili's choreography carefully and there is not much more there than an awful lot of repetitive pelvis thrusting, hip wiggling and bum shaking. For the 20 minutes it lasts it is fun, but by I am not sure I wanted any more, and I have grave doubts the work would stand up to repeated viewings.

Rambert Dance Company’s autumn tour takes them to Salford, Llandudno, High Wycombe, Norwich, Bath, Stoke, London and Plymouth. See for details.

Author:  David [ Sat Nov 13, 2010 2:48 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Rambert Dance Company

Hush, Awakenings, Cardoon Club
Rambert Dance Company
Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London; November 9, 2010

by David Mead

Former Rambert artistic director Christopher Bruce can always be relied on to produce dance that is accessible. Featuring a father, mother and four children, two boys and two girls, “Hush” is very much a celebration of the family, or at least a celebration of what a family should be like, or what we want it to be like.

The starry backdrop suggests night. But is all what it seems? A soft, dream-like quality pervades the atmosphere. The white faces of the cast and their grey and white costumes set off with splashes of red suggest ghostly clowns. And against the clear sky there is a giant stepladder and swing, reaching to and hanging from the heavens.

Bruce’s choreography is quite delightful. The family are totally lost in their own time and place, so wrapped up in the pleasures of each other’s company that they are totally oblivious to the fact that anyone might be watching. Whether it’s the younger son (the athletic Thomasin Gulgec) buzzing round the stage after a fly, or the father and mother (the so soft yet precise Jonathan Goddard and Angela Towler) enjoying a moment together as the children sleep peacefully, every ounce of dance is extracted from Bobby McFerrin and Yo-Yo Ma’s music. Sometimes energetic, sometimes almost so light it seems weightless, “Hush” is totally captivating.

Aletta Collins’ “Awakenings” was inspired by neurologist Dr Oliver Sacks book of the same title that focuses on his work with sufferers of encephalitis lethargica, a sleeping sickness that affected millions of people in the 1920s. Around a third who contracted the illness died, but those that survived often came down years later with a condition that turned them into living statues, unable to speak or move. The work draws on their experiences, and the side-effects of a drug discovered in the 1960s that ‘awakened them’ and restored mobility but that ultimately led to manic twitching and frenzies.

The stark, almost bleak opening scene, with the eight dancers frozen physically but with a sense of wanting to move forward is memorable. As each comes alive they seem lost in their own time and space. But the interest quickly wanes. There are connections, and some supportive duets, but they appear more coincidence than planned. Collins’ choreography reflects the fact that the sufferers responded to the beat and tempo of music. Factually accurate maybe, but it all gets a little too predictable. Some will no doubt find very affecting but while “Awakenings” has moments of beauty, even occasional moments of sadness, it is only the first image that lingers.

Henrietta Horn’s “Cardoon Club” has no story, just lots of startlingly colourful images and extravagant costumes. Even she says she doesn’t know where most of them came from. The opening is especially striking. On a stage with two beaded curtains front and back, the former bunched up to form windows on the action, stands a woman in stilettos, a summer dress, sunglasses, and with outrageously long fingernails. On her head sits a vivid green bathing cap shaped like an artichoke.

Before long the stage, by now a brightly coloured lake that changes colour at regular intervals, is full of strange looking creatures. Bathed in warm light they graze the lakebed, swaying in the underwater currents to the rhythms of the music, occasionally jolting and twitching to prominence in a series of individual solos and duets. It all looks like it should be easy going and relaxed, and there are moments of light humour, none more so than when the dancers carry on a miniature stage and use finger extensions as puppet legs that perform a great routine to Hammond organ music, as two others to the side go through some ballet class steps, although one can’t escape the feeling that this comment by Horn on her feelings about dance should be rather more a parody that it was on this occasion. Elsewhere it all gets a little repetitive and never quite realises its promise.

Horn is director of the Folkwang Tanzstudio at the University of the Arts in Essen, a post she formerly shared with Pina Bausch. “Cardoon Club” is a reworking and significant shortening of “Artischocke im Silbersee” (Artichoke in the Silver Lake), made with the students for the 2004 Pina Bausch Festival in Wuppertaal. It’s a work in the Folkwang tradition and therein, maybe, is the problem. The Folkwang Studio emphasises not the training of dancers, but human beings who dance. The result is a closing of the divide between the real person and the dancer, as often seen in Bausch’s work. Of course, they cannot escape who they are and their training, but while the Rambert dancers gave a sense of joy and energy, it was very restrained dancer’s joy and energy. It was almost as if they just need to let go and enjoy it a little more.

The final word goes to conductor Paul Hoskins and the orchestra. Would that more contemporary dance happen with live music, especially when it is played as this well.

A version of this review, with images, will appear later in the magazine.

Author:  David [ Sat May 28, 2011 2:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Rambert Dance Company

Cardoon Club, Roses, Monolith
Rambert Dance Company
Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London; May 24, 2011

David Mead

Paul Taylor’s work does not get much of a showing here in Britain, so top marks to Rambert artistic director Mark Baldwin for bringing “Roses” to the company’s repertory. 25 years after it was made it is a work that not only still looks fresh, original, but that is utterly captivating.

To Richard Wagner’s “Siegfried Idyll” five couples explore the reality of courtship. With the women in long navy blue dresses and the men in informal grey and brown shirts and trousers, it is decorous and gracious, yet rather ‘matter of fact’ and unromantic. Each pair comes forward to explore the theme before returning to the group. Taylor makes much use circles, both in individual movement and by having the dancers return often to dance in a round, their hands reaching out to the next dancer’s shoulders. The beautiful duets are interrupted often by moments of uncertainty as the women reach out, sometimes finding their partner’s head, sometimes only air. But the joy of togetherness is there too, revealed in the dancers forward rolling or cartwheeling over each other.

Just when you think Taylor has said all there is to say, he surprises by introducing a sixth couple, all in white, perfection to set against what has gone before. To Heinrich Baermann’s “Adagio for Clarinet and Strings” they are all sweetness and romance. They are, perhaps, the romantic ideal that we would all like courtship to be. The uncomplicated nature of the piece continues right to the end as Taylor eschews the expected finale, preferring to have the pair join the others reclining on the floor. Simple looking maybe, but even 25 years after it was made it is a work that

If anything, even more engaging, albeit this time in a rather more haunting way, was Tim Rushton’s “Monolith”. Rushton is one of those British choreographers who, although trained at home, has made his name largely abroad. Indeed, I suspect that until his Danish Dance Theatre toured here earlier in the year few dancegoers would have heard of him.

“Monolith” is set in a most other-worldly landscape, the stage dominated by beautiful bronze pillars that could be read as mean-made or natural, set against a low-lying vista, the whole bathed in golden light. It could be prehistoric, it could be alien, take your pick. In contrast to the serene setting, the choreography is busy with an underlying tension. Rushton’s powerful combination of classical ballet and contemporary dance makes for a complex, fluid movement vocabulary. The dancers in their burnished bronze singlets and trunks seemed like more like creatures than humans, searching for something, although for what we know not. There are lots of entrances and exits as the dance drives ever forward. It is all wonderfully inspiring. You don’t want to take your eyes off the stage for a second.

“Monolith” showed the Rambert dancers to their absolute best. I wish the same could be said about “Cardoon Club”, Henrietta Horn’s sideways look at a German night club. On the positive side it is colourful and has some great designs by Michael Howells, but while Horn has some interesting ideas they certainly do not stretch to 45 minutes. It failed to impress previously and was even more disappointing second time around, the attempts at humour now raising barely a smile. The choreography, which comprises mostly of posing and shaking torsos is dreadfully banal and repetitive, as is Benjamin Pope’s Hammond-organ based music.

Some wonderful news was announced during the evening. For many years the Rambert Dance Company has been based in a cramped, outdated building in Chiswick, West London. But two £500,000 contributions from charitable foundations made recently has pushed Rambert Moves, the company’s project to create a new home in Central London on the South Bank, to just £1 million short of its target £19.6 million. The company are now preparing to start work on the site, with preparations for construction planned to begin this July.

In the autumn Rambert Dance Company will be touring to Salford, Bath, Glasgow, Norwich, London (Sadler’s Wells), Bradford and Plymouth with a programme including Mark Baldwin’s new “Seven for a secret never to be told” For full details see

A version of this review, with images, will appear later in the magazine.

Author:  David [ Fri Oct 14, 2011 11:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Rambert Dance Company

Season of New Choreography
Rambert Dance Company
The Place, London; October 12, 2011

David Mead

's Bird. Photo Eric Richmond.jpg
's Bird. Photo Eric Richmond.jpg [ 51.07 KiB | Viewed 25079 times ]

Ten out of ten for Rambert Dance Company continuing to encourage the budding and sometimes more experienced choreographers among its members in its annual season of new works. This year’s programme featured five very different pieces and some excellent dancing.

There aren’t too many times when the audience are told to make sure their mobile phones are turned on and that photography is “very much permitted” for a performance, but that’s just what happened at the start of Jonathan Goddard’s “07941 611 971”. The audience had been provided with DanceSpinners, and dancers’ mobile phone numbers were displayed above the stage. The idea was simple, spin the three wheels on the Spinner to decide the action, body part and direction, call the dancer and tell them what to do.

There were individual moments of delight but on the whole the result was a fairly predictable, incoherent mess. The stop-start nature of the calls, and the few seconds it took to spin the DanceSpinner meant the movement had little flow. In amongst this melange, however, there were moments of wicked delight. When you could hear the instructions it all started to have meaning. At least one member of the audience even decided to bend the rules a little. The young man seated directly in front of me decided he was going to “target” Robin Gladwin even before the piece started, and then proceeded to do so quite mischievously, ignoring his DanceSpinner and just giving the craziest instructions he could think of.

Some of the movement may not have been set beforehand (given the accuracy of some unison sections, other parts clearly were), but the structure most certainly was. Here, Goddard proved himself most adept at manipulating his cast, presenting relatively short, simple phrases in an endless variety of ways.

As much as everyone enjoyed Goddard’s solo piece, the most impressive work on show was his joint creation with Gemma Nixon, “Fitcher’s Bird”, also danced by the couple. Their symbolic interpretation of the Brothers Grimm story was a dark exploration of the sub-conscious, danced with incredible conviction and intensity. Goddard was forceful and aggressive as he dominated Nixon, who represented all three sisters in the tale, although she was sometimes powerful two, often clinging on to him or hanging round his neck as if pleading. My only reservation was the overuse of strobe lighting at the end. Although it created an impressive as Goddard too bird-form, it went on far too long and eventually I had to shield my eyes. Still, “Fitcher’s Bird” is class and a must for the main company rep.

“Mamihlapinatapai” is a word in the indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego that refers to a look shared by two people, each wishing that the other would do something that they both desire but are unwilling to do. It was packed with angst-ridden dance that gripped the senses. So, why oh why did Kirill Burlov feel the need to the dancers to speak, and in Spanish? The dance was powerful enough on its own and didn’t need it. Far from adding to matters, there were times when the text actually detracted from proceedings. The cast were great dancers, they are not great actors, and not great at projecting voice. Only occasionally was there enough emotion in their words for some understanding to be possible without translation. And as for the shrieking and wailing…

Malgorzata Dzierzon’s “Lines written a few miles below” brought us back to home and a scenario the audience were certainly familiar with: travel on London’s Underground. Much of the occasionally amusing action took place on and in front of a representation of part of a carriage. Commuters with their heads stuck in newspapers, people constantly dodging others, a lady with a huge suitcase that gets in the way, it was all there. Best of all though was the way Dzierzon reflected the false harmony that exists on the tube. No matter what private behaviour she magnified and brought to public attention, everyone ignored, or pretended to ignore, it. How true it was.

Otis Cameron-Carr’s “Oh” was inspired by relationships at home between her, her two sisters and their mother. The idea promised much, but the dancers failed to convince fully and the piece never really got into its stride.

All in all, this was an impressive programme, though. Artistic Director Mark Baldwin should be praised for making sure the season continues. Top marks too for the use of live music, and often new live music, in most of the pieces.

Rambert Dance Company are at Sadler’s Wells Theatre from 15-19 November. For details of this and other tour dates see

Author:  David [ Fri Nov 18, 2011 1:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Rambert Dance Company

‘RainForest’, ‘Seven for a Secret Never to Be Told’, ‘Elysian Fields’
Rambert Dance Company
Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London; November 15, 2011

David Mead

Of the two world premieres on Rambert’s latest London programme it was Javier de Frutos’ “Elysian Fields” that took the honours, the title being a reference to the New Orleans street in Tennessee Williams’ classic “A Streetcar Named Desire”, from which he makes liberal use of the text, spoken by the cast.

The action all takes place in a circle around which are placed a number of regular and oversize chairs designed by Katrina Lindsay that lend the setting a vaguely Alice in Wonderland look. For once, having dancers speak works well. It certainly adds to the steamy mood of the piece and is a most effective opening scene-setter (especially Gemma Nixon’s part), but the longer the piece goes on, and the more out of breath the dancers get, the less they can be understood.

De Frutos’ choreography hits the mark too. It has a melodramatic energy, the piece reeking of sexual tension and abandon. Christopher Austin’s reworking of Alex North’s film score is a perfect accompaniment. It all makes for gripping stuff, in the case of the dancers sometimes quite literally. Don’t look for characters and a straight narrative, though. They are not there and it is not what de Frutos intended. Instead, sit back and revel in the intensity of it all.

Artistic director Mark Baldwin’s “Seven for a secret, never to be told” looked equally promising. He has been working with Cambridge University Professor of Comparative Cognition, Nicola Clayton. Her interesting programme note reminded how children perceive the world around them, and their place therein very differently from adults. Among other things, she referred to the “tension between the inside and the outside” and shifts in perspective.

There was no sign of that, or any other darker aspects of childhood, in the piece though, Baldwin instead focusing exclusively on children at play. And what we get is an innocent, desperately sugar-sweet look at being young that all takes place in a chocolate-box like glade surrounded by weeping willow trees through which the sun glints. It’s a hark back to the childhood of our dreams, one most definitely seen through rose-tinted glasses.

When Baldwin focuses on dance, and particularly on embodying the spirit of childhood, “Seven for a secret” works very well. Antonette Dayrit stood out a mile as the leading girl. The choreography is mostly lyrical, rather balletic and easy on the eye, helped along enormously by Stephen McNeff’s pleasant score based on Ravel’s “L’Enfant et les Sortilèges”. It’s when he gets down to characterisation that things go awry. Adults pretending to children is often embarrassing and this was largely no exception. An early dance that had some of the men boxing (complete with boxing gloves) did not bode well, and later having a couple of the women play out a girls’ tea party complete with doll and toy bird just made them look silly. The audience seemed to be of much the same view. They clapped at the end, but the silence during the piece was deafening, despite there being clear definition of scenes, and there being enough of a pause between most that invited applause.

Opening the evening was Merce Cunningham 1968 classic, “RainForest”. The cast gave a slightly different take on the piece to that presented by the Cunningham company a month earlier at the Barbican. In particular, the sense of sense of detachment and lack of affect that makes the work so intriguing was missing. The Rambert cast showed greater attack and were much more expressive. There was an impression throughout of trying to convey meaning, even at times a sense of narrative. It was also a shame that Andy Warhol’s helium-filled silver pillow-shaped balloons refused steadfastly to play, most of them remaining resolutely in one place.

Author:  David [ Mon Dec 26, 2011 7:37 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Rambert Dance Company

News from Rambert: Company Archive and Spring Season 2012

Rambert Dance Company has been awarded nearly £360,000 of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to conserve, catalogue and make publically available the Company’s historical collections. This will allow them to fit-out a dedicated archive space in their new purpose-built home on the London's South Bank, due to open in 2013.

The company archive contains audio and film collections, archive documents and more than 300 costumes spanning over 100 years, including pieces by designers such as Roland Mouret, John Galliano, Stephen Jones and Katherine Hamnett, as well as original pieces belonging to Marie Rambert. Conservation work will be carried out on the items at most risk, which is around 40% of the collection. Over 600 boxes of documents and 1800 pieces of film and audio footage will also be preserved to professional standards. The project will also see an extensive education programme, with particular focus on projects for school groups and fashion students.

Spring Season 2012

2012 sees Mark Baldwin celebrating 10 years at the helm of Rambert, a period during which he has personally created four new works for the Company and commissioned more than 25 others from well-known choreographers including Karole Armitage, Rafael Bonachela, Kim Brandstrup, Javier De Frutos, Tim Rushton, Garry Stewart and Doug Varone.

For his tenth anniversary, Baldwin will create "What Wild Ecstasy", described as "a contemporary response" to Nijinsky’s "L’Après-midi d’un faune". "What Wild Ecstasy" will feature a new score by Gavin Higgins, Rambert’s inaugural Music Fellow, which he describes as “exploring a darker side of the faun’s sensual character”. The new take on "Faune" is inspired by ritualised dance gatherings. Baldwin says, "The primal instinct of celebrating pulse and rhythm has always fascinated me. These gatherings may help bond a community, bolster its individuals and act as a way of releasing tensions; a unique way in which our species for a moment, is able to leave the world behind".

Spring 2012 will also see the revival the Rambert version of Nijinsky’s version of "L’Après-midi d’un faune" in its centenary year, not performed by the Company since 1983.

In May 2012, following his success with the exuberant "A Linha Curva", Israeli choreographer Itzik Galili returns with the UK première of "Sub", a taut and muscular work for seven male dancers set to the exuberant energy of Michael Gordon’s rather dark and moody composition for string sextet, "Weather One".

The repertoire for Spring 2012 will also include Galili's "A Linha Curva", "Elysian Fields" by Javier De Frutos, "Monolith" by Tim Rushton, "Roses" by Paul Taylor, "Seven for a secret, never to be told" by Mark Baldwin and "The Art of Touch by Siobhan Davies".

For details see

Author:  sulli [ Sat Jan 21, 2012 9:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Rambert Dance Company

I really love Rambert Dance Company...Good news for you..I join next week.


NONCLASSICAL - Prokofiev, Rambert Dance Company and the London Philharmonic Orchestra
Venue: Royal Festival Hall - Clore Ballroom, London
Dates: Saturday 28 January 2012 21:45 - 22:45
Price: FREE
Website: via

Prokofiev's early ballet score Trapeze enjoys a fresh new interpretation as part of an hour-long classical club night.This is a late-night collaboration between the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Rambert Dance Company and Nonclassical, curated by Gabriel Prokofiev's Nonclassical. It is performed by young artists associated with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Rambert Dance Company: Foyle Future Firsts and Quicksilver.

Admission free - no tickets required.

We hope to see you all there.. :wink:

Author:  David [ Thu May 17, 2012 12:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Rambert Dance Company

‘Sub’, ‘The Art of Touch’, ‘L’Après midi d’un faun’, ‘What Wild Ecstacy’
Rambert Dance Company
Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London; May 15, 2012

Charlotte Kasner

The quadruple bill opened with the UK premiere of Itzik Galili’s “Sub”, for seven men. Natasja Lansen decked them out in navy blue greatcoats, tied round the waist with wide leather belts, leaving bare torsos to reflect the light. Light levels were generally low, with strips of bright white. There was a heavy emphasis on horizontal movement, the company making a superbly timed ensemble in a fascinating work that seemed shorter than its actual thirty minutes. Michael Gordon’s “Weather One” is a terrific score and none the worse for the inability to be played live. It provided plenty of dynamics for Galili to bounce off and, although more cerebral than “wow” made for an interesting opening to the evening.

Siobhan Davies’ “The Art of Touch” is now seventeen years old and, whilst danced perfectly competently, came across as a bit of a filler. Whereas “Sub” reflected and projected the ideas in the score, this work seemed detached from the peculiarities of the harpsichord solo. It was too busy and only hinted at the tactile sensations that it is meant to explore. There were moments when dancers were low and still but then rattled off again in contact after contact leaving no time for pause or reflection.

Rambert has made a great effort to remain in touch with their “back catalogue” in spite of the many changes the company has seen over the decades. In a year when Diaghilev has been much to the fore, “L’Après midi d’un faun” stretches back to the company beginnings. Diaghilev had already ditched the customary large backcloth which of course could not be re-instated on the tiny Mercury Theatre stage. Curiously, this makes the setting more intimate even on the stage at the Wells, Sid Ellen’s lighting design enhancing the effect. Dane Hurst gave a muted performance; he seemed almost afraid of the blatant sensuality and sexuality, leaving the nymphs to fill in the gap with their wonderful, stylised movements.

The contrast between this “Faun” and Mark Baldwin’s “What Wild Ecstasy” could not then have been greater. There was no subtlety about the sexuality here, Michael Howells dressing the dancers in hot pinks and oranges and the consummation of the congress being highlighted by a stream of tumbling ping pong balls whilst the rest of the company watched. It seemed to owe more to “Rite of Spring”, as did Gavin Higgins' score. If nothing else, it underlined what a masterpiece “Faun” is; still subtly shocking a century after its premiere.

Author:  David [ Sat Jun 02, 2012 9:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Rambert Dance Company

Season of New Choreography
Rambert Dance Company
Queen Elizabeth Hall, London; May 31, 2012

David Mead and Charlotte Kasner

Rambert Dance Company has always of nurturing young choreographers from within its ranks, and this year’s Season of New Choreography featured four pieces created by company dancers Dane Hurst, Mbulelo Ndabeni, Patricia Okenwa, and Jonathan Goddard and Gemma Nixon, all to new music commissions, some played live by members of the Rambert Orchestra.

A woman lays on the floor, slowly stretching and turning in her sleep. Yet far from being relaxed, she seems tense. There is already an oppressive mood in the air that becomes increasingly highlighted as she starts to toss ever more violently. So begins Dane Hurst’s “The Window”, which focuses on events in a 1950 South African household as the impact of passing of the apartheid laws starts to take hold.

Port Elizabeth-born Hurst’s poignant and hard-hitting work takes us through several scenes, each well-structured and that got their message over clearly and effectively without ever outstaying their welcome. After our young lady has woken, her dream takes real form in a dance for the women of the family that is packed with Graham-like contractions, deep plies and extended arms as they give vent to their anguish at being evicted from their home. In a later scene they are joined by the men for a dance around a large table that includes much pounding of fists as their anger pores forth. All the time, though, there is a sense that they know there is nothing they can do to fight the injustice that has been served upon them.

Best of all, though, is a scene in which three bare-chested men (Eryck Brahmania, Miguel Altunaga and Stephen Wright) assault one of the younger females of the family (Estela Merlos). It is all very reminiscent of Christopher Bruce’s “Swansong”. Like “Swansong” it starts with her on a chair. Using the new laws as a pretext for their violence, she is soon being manoeuvred and thrown around like a rag doll, and eventually left for dead. Maybe it’s the fact that three men are assaulting a woman, a combination Bruce never allowed, but it was not only more realistic, but far more disturbing and menacing.

The mood was helped along by Chris Mayo’s steamy, tension-filled score, Paul Green’s clever lighting that drew you in, and Nicolai Hart-Hansen’s simple yet effective set that evoked a wooden shanty town home. Besides being well-danced, as was everything on show, “The Window” is well-structured and has a great sense of time and place. It is certainly on a par with some of the offerings on recent main company programmes and deserves to be seen by more than just those present at this one-off evening. Mark Baldwin, please take note.

Although “The Window” took the honours on the night, there was also much to admire among the other three pieces on show. Jonathan Goddard and Gemma Nixon have already established something of a reputation as an innovative choreographic pairing, and their latest piece, “Heist” only proved the point further. Their starting point here was René Magritte’s comment that, “Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see.” I’m not quite sure that I got that, but it was certainly an intriguing and suspense-filled piece quartet in which the choreographers were joined on stage by Eryck Brahmania and Estela Merlos.

Tension and suspense was also to the fore in Mbulelo Ndabeni’s “Face Up”. To music by cellist and composer Semay Wu that seemed to include dashes of everything from classical to club, Ndabeni explored the power struggle between two men, danced by himself and Miguel Altunaga. It was impossible to escape the feeling that much of that seen was very personal. Despite their differences, sometimes expressed quite physically and violently, there was also a sense of comradeship and togetherness that eventually transcended all.

Completing the programme was Patricia Okenwa’s “Vriditas” that examined personal and shared rituals in female behaviour. After opening with the sound of a creaking door and various animal howls that made it feel like we had suddenly been banished into some sort of wilderness, essentially it involved five women in tennis dresses dancing on their own and in a circle to a neo-Impressionist score by Rambert Music Fellow Mark Bowden that included lots of solo flute and runs and trills on harp and glockenspiel. At times they played with the polystyrene balls courtesy of Linbury Award-winning designer Hyemi Shin, a little like the princesses in “Firebird”. Moments of calmness compete with rather more frenetic conversational moments. While all very watchable, it was not particularly profound, and failed to make much of dent in the memory.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Rambert Dance Company

Dance from Two Centuries:
Rambert Mixed Bill at Sadler's Wells, 16th October and Chunky Move's “Mortal Engine” at the QEH, 20th October

by Stuart Sweeney

These two contrasted contemporary dance programmes, seen a few days apart, gave me the idea to review them together and see if any insights arise. Rambert Dance Company, the oldest in the UK, provided a triple bill with a short extra work. This is a common structure for Rambert, drawing on its rich history with works as far back as the 1930's, combined with several new commissions each year. Here, no less than three of the works are “new to the company” revivals of 20th C. works, combined with a new commission, which could easily have come from the same century.

In “Roses”, Paul Taylor set himself a demanding task: a 30-minute work consisting of an ensemble section for 5 couples, who never leave the stage, set to a Wagner's “Siegfried Idyll”, followed by an extended duet by a 6th couple to an adagio by Heinrich Baermann, flowing almost seamlessly after the Wagner. Choreographers often use exits and entrances, varying the numbers on-stage to provide a fresh field of view and focus. In “Roses”, Taylor explores how a dance-maker can retain the interest of the audience without such devices. The patterns he weaves have the spatial mastery of Balanchine, as the five couples seem to portray a single relationship full of romantic lyricism, mixing conventional movement with somersaults and other eye-catching steps. For the final pas de deux, Angela Towler and Kirill Burlov performed the steps with grace, but never quite caught the romanticism achieved in the ensemble section.

Like “Roses”, “Dutiful Ducks”dates from the 1980's. Choreographer, Richard Alston, had already used a text-sound composition by Charles Amirkhanian to great success in “Rainbow Bandit”. Here we get a dotty poem about ducks, playful repetitions, all making a delightful sound tapestry. Alston's choreography matches this with kinetic movement, abrupt changes of direction and even classical entrechats. Dane Hurst, arguably one of the best male dancers in the UK, made the work his own and should be able to dine out on this delicious morsel at festivals around the world.

“Sounddance” is a Merce Cunningham work from the 1970's - the programme tells us that the opening solo was originally danced by Cunningham himself. Given that his eponymous company is closed forever, groups like Rambert are keeping his work on-stage. It seems typical Merce to me with heads tilted to one side, difficult balances, petit jetée, and curved arms making semi-circles and ogives. In “Sounddance”, to David Tudor's near-white noise accompaniment, the 10 dancers appear and disappear through a gap in a curtained backdrop. There are lovely moments such as deer-like jumps and the Rambert dancers give it their all, but this work didn't resonant with me as for some of Cunningham's rep.

The London première of “Labyrinth of Love” was the big event of the Sadler's run. There are memorable aspects: the singing of Soprano Kirsty Hopkins as she interacts with the dancers; eye-catching, white costumes by Conor Murphy; a long counter at the back of the stage, often used for humorous effects and projected images of fires. What seemed notably missing was - love – not for one moment was I emotionally engaged by the work. The choreography had little to separate it from any number of other contemporary dance pieces and 8 men jumping one by one off the back of the counter transformed the stunning finale from MacMillan's “Requiem” into mere banality.

I saw Chunky Move's “Ghost” a few years ago at the Lublin Festival in Poland – a solo on an illuminated floor, with software generating a series of patterns and shapes initiated by the dancer's movement. I remember thinking, “If this is the 21st C. count me in!” Thus, I had great expectation when I read that choreographer, Gideon Obarzanek, was to bring a larger scale work based on the same technology to London. I was not disappointed.

In “Mortal Engines”, Freider Weiss's software also reacts to the music of Robin Fox, as well as the 6 dancers, generating scintillating images on a tilted stage. A solo dancer shows anguish and a jangling, electric pattern is thrown off with every movement. A couple sleep in an upright position, as part of the stage tilts to the vertical. As they roll around soft-edged shapes follow their path. The range of patterns is varied, sometimes vibrating ellipses sometimes black drops falling like rain. But throughout, the inventive choreography of the near naked bodies shows great physicality and always emphasises their humanity. Finally green lasers and smoke create tunnels and planes of light for a jaw-dropping climax. In the after show talk, Obarzanek told us that after making these two pieces in 2008, he moved away from a high-tech approach and now works with actors, alongside dancers, but he was very happy to see “Mortal Engines” again.

So, are there any links to be drawn between the two programmes? “Mortal Engine” with its dizzying visuals will stay in my mind much longer than the Rambert show. Perhaps the UK's oldest company could push the envelope a little more, alongside its celebration of 20th C dance and be more risk-taking in its choice of current choreographers to provide audiences with the new possibilities that the 21st C offers.

Author:  David [ Sat Nov 17, 2012 2:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Rambert Dance Company


Rambert's new centre on London's Southbank moved a step closer on Friday Novemebr 16 when Artistic Director, Mark Baldwin, was joined by dancers Angela Towler and Adam Park to celebrate the Topping Out ceremony, which marks the putting in place of the highest point of the building

The rooftop ceremony was also attended by other representatives from Rambert, staff from Vinci Construction and invited guests. The occasion was marked by the trussing of a branch of yew tree to a timber beam, to symbolise growth and luck, and a ceremonial laying of concrete within the structure. Regional Director of Vinci Construction, Andy O’Sullivan, presented an engraved trowel to Mark Baldwin to commemorate this.

When completed, the new building will house three large dance studios, set and costume workshops, offices and archive. The total cost of the project is £19.6 million, £7 million of which was awarded by Arts Council England. Rambert has raised nearly £12 million of the fundraising target from private sources, and is now in the final stages of the public fundraising campaign.

Author:  David [ Fri May 31, 2013 4:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Rambert Dance Company

Rambert drops 'Dance Company' from name

Rambert Dance Company (or Rambert as we should now call them) has decided to drop the words 'Dance Company' from its name.

This comes after work with design company Hat Trick.

The press release also refers to a new brand identity. Although it doesn't say so, no doubt this is all tied in with the move to the new studios on the South Bank.

Although the name is changing, the font and sytle in which it is written appears the same. And there is no new logo.

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