Feature: Rambert Dance 01

Friday 7 April 2006

Rambert Dance Company
Sadler’s Wells
13 – 24 Nov. 01
Prog. 1

Cause for Celebration?
Regretfully, I must confess that my first-ever exposure to the Rambert Dance Company – now commemorating its 75th year – was not something to celebrate. Following the longtime Rambert tradition of continually augmenting the quantity and breath of its repertoire, director Christopher Bruce has ended up sacrificing the quality of the works themselves.

‘Twin Suite 2’ (2000) from Glenn Wilkinson (a long time Rambert dancer) is a foray into club culture that falls flat and barely skims the surface of a thriving global youth culture. Bruce’s use of the Commedia dell’arte tradition in ‘Hurricane’ (2001) is meant to highlight the absurdity of Ruben ‘Hurricane’ Carter’s wrongful conviction for murder. Unfortunately, this mimetic, over-literal approach trivialises his tragic tale.

I eagerly awaited the London premiere of Merce Cunningham’s ‘Ground Level Overlay’(1995) only to find myself unmoved by this wash of contemporary dance. The robotic duets initially appear like some stilted form of interaction void of communication. Could Cunningham be alluding to a futuristic form of mating in which intercourse has been completely eliminated? He eventually gives us moments of intimacy in which the dancers allow themselves to lean into one another rocking to the gentle rippling of reverberating trombones ‘overlaid’ with live music exquisitely performed by the London Musici orchestra.

Javier de Frutos ‘The Celebrated Soubrette’(2000) is by no means rivetting viewing, but it is a thoroughly entertaining satire exposing the lack-lustre disillusionment beneath the narcissism, seediness and dog-eat-dog world of Las Vegas showbiz. Michael Daugherty’s ‘Le Tombeau de Liberace’ provides the perfect over-the-top accompaniment to the dancers’ thrusting hips, luscious shoulder roles, deep lunges and sassy struts.

Judging from the opening night’s performance, Bruce himself should be ‘celebrated’ for showcasing cutting-edge choreographers such as De Frutos who has had a significant impact on the British dance scene. Perhaps this is the way for Rambert to propel itself into the twenty-first century.
Melanie Knowles

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