Sadler’s Wells

Despite the mind-numbingly bad title this piece is showcasing “what makes Rambert Rambert”. Like Tolkien’s glowing Silmarils these 3 short pieces shine forth: individual, interesting, intriguing.

Spawned by Dame Marie Rambert after seeing Isadora Duncan perform, almost 100 years of excellence have passed since then. Rambert2 brings a youth wing out into the world as the Rambert school and prolific digital wing flap this company into the stratosphere. What’s next we wonder? Rambert mugs? A restaurant? Branded ecological toothbrushes? The sky seems the limit for this most confident of dance behemoths headed by director Benoit Swan Pouffer since 2018.

Yet I have been distracted by history, and branding as I so often are. To the art!

Following the Subtle Current Upstream (or as I have loving christened it FTSCU) closes the evening. A little anticlimactic Alonzo King’s choreography is the least thematic or narrative-driven of the three. A preference for some dance lovers, the vague links to nature in Robert Rosenwasser’s green netting costume and wood elves garb feel overdone. The dancers prance, swinging in wide elegant circles to Miriam Makeba’s distinctive vocals. Archie White stands out in every piece, but the contrast between his soft leaping in FTSCU and wild hardness earlier on earmark him as one to watch closely.

Cerberus in the middle is FTSCU’s direct opposition. Maximalist, postmodern, marvelous, mocking, and just a little unmatched. Set to the live crashing of Romarna Campbells’s drumming, Rebecca Leggett’s operatic sinning, and George Robinsons’ guitar we get a cacophonous retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice. A plucky stagehand is drawn into a mock funeral for the dancer Aishwarya Raut (who is very much alive and kicking). The corps de ballet march across the stage in impeccable couture (thanks to Eleanor Bull) to their fate in the Greek underworld. Duke with the help of Andreea Paduraru’s dramaturgy crafts arresting images as the black laced shapes troop along in shafts of light, or strain against heavy ropes pulling them down to their doom. A dollop of irony saves this piece from the genre’s obsession with Greek myth (if I see another dryad scene I will implode). Yet asking these talented movers to also be hilarious actors? Not quite so perfect. Nevertheless, the forms of the dancers, looking like a mix between Hades Town, Chicago, and the Adams Family embody the tone of the piece well..when they are not speaking.

Lastly for this review (but first on the stage) is Imre van Opstal and Marne van Opstal’s (power couple indeed) piece Eye Candy. The van Opstral’s isolated in their vision birthed the outlandish costumes themselves. Silicone vests of enlarged breasts and rippling pecs that I bet made the many teachers of the many school trips in the audience regret their choice of show. The drag-ing of classically beautiful bodies over…well….classically beautiful bodies is an absorbing idea, and visually electric. Two textured walls like the inside of some bionic spaceship cocoon these painted machines, part Robot part sex toy but fully dazzling. A point where Naya Lovell Is sat stroking the hunched Frankenstein-like body of a male dancer as she lip-syncs along to a recorded track and methodically paws his hair is quite the sight. The image of Adél Bálint bare (fake) breasted stiffly carried on to be manipulated by the male dancers, then jerkily contorting her body as if plugged in will live forever in my mind (unfortunately as a nightmare). Playfully sexual and yet ambiguous as only dance can be this examination of the body by dissociation is packed full of meaning.

Human simulacra in silicone, forest nymphs, and Dior clad mourners all fill the brief 115 minutes, yet every second is poured full of athletic skill, imagination, and verve. There is a reason Rambert is where they are today and their ability to pair captivating chorographers with dedicated dancers and visionary creatives is untouched. Although it is a danger to put any company on a pedestal least the dreaded fall cometh I bloody well will! Now I’m off to research silicon bodysuits for my upcoming beach holiday, as it seems much easier than actual exercise. You do your job dancers and I’ll do mine, and with some clever costumes, we’ll both look the same by the sea!

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