Rambert Dance Company @ Sadler’s Wells, London

Rambert performed by
Gemma Nixon, Pieter Symonds, Angela Towler, Eryck Brahmania, Kirill Burlov, Robin Gladwin, Jonathan Goddard, Estela Merlos, Patricia Okenwa, Miguel Altunaga, Thomasin Gulgec, Mbulelo Ndabeni

Founded in 1926, the Rambert Dance Company has a reputation for energy and vision, and its pioneering approach to dance rests upon the value it attaches to the collaboration between choreographer, composer and artist.

The three pieces in its current triple bill at Sadlers Wells were all created at different times, and could not be more different if they tried. Variety lies at the heart of the evening, and it means that if someone doesnt take to one of the three works, the chances are that theyll warm to the others.

The first piece, The Art of Touch, was originally choreographed in 1995 by Siobhan Davies. It considers how a dancer touches the music in the same way that a hand strikes a keyboard or a plectrum hits a string. As the seven performers move individually, in pairs or as an ensemble, bodies thrust, sway, swoop and fall through space. A more human element is introduced, however, when one man physically touches a womans belly, implying motherhood.

Most remarkable is the way in which the dancers succeed in meticulously shadowing each others movements, even though the loose, flimsy nature of these does not make this seem an obvious thing to do. Davies uses for her score Scarlattis 5 Keyboard Sonatas, interspersed with music by Matteo Fargion especially commissioned for the piece. The result is that the lyrical strains are successfully varied with more monotone thudding sounds.

Originally choreographed in 1968, Merce Cunninghams Rainforest features a set designed by Andy Warhol consisting of helium filled silver mylar pillows. With five of the six performers gracing the stage only once during the dance, there is a strong sensuous air as the protagonists don flesh-coloured bodysuits and gyrate, sometimes one on top of the other, across the stage. With David Tudors weird and wonderful sounds of the jungle pervading the atmosphere, this work seems rather to lack a beginning, a middle and an end. Its sheer innovation, however, wins the day, whilst its modest length and positioning in the middle of the programme are enough for us to fully embrace it.

The final piece, A Linha Curva, choreographed in 2005 by Itzik Galili, features twenty-eight performers dancing to the beat of several percussion instruments. This is an abundant feast of celebration in which lines of dancers thrust their limbs this way and that, individuals skateboard gracefully across the stage on their bellies, and performers step onto each others backs only to tumble off again.

In this piece everything is given a human edge. Groups of dancers look on impressed as soloists strut their stuff, and the audience laugh and cheer them on. Galili fully acknowledges the abstract nature of his work, and it appears to have no real meaning other than what it is to express oneself through dance. In the context of this superbly compiled triple bill, however, that is more than enough.

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