International Dimension to Quintet of Works by Dancer-Choreographers

United KingdomUnited Kingdom Various Composers, Rambert – Evening of New Choreography: Rambert, Sadler’s Wells (Lilian Baylis Studio), London, 17.12.2013 (J.O’D)

Dancers: Kym Alexander, Lucy Balfour, Carolyn Bolton, Anonette Dayrit, Simone Damberg Würtz
Musicians:Eloisa Fleur-Thom (violin), Mandhira de Saram (violin), Clifton Harrison (viola), Alex Rolton (cello), Alice Kent (double bass), Robert Millett (percussion)
Choreography: Mbulelo Ndabemi
Music: Robert Millett
Costume: Nosa Oba
Lighting: Luke Manning

Entre tú y yo
Dancers: Miguel Altanuga, Adam Park, Hannah Rudd, Jon Savage
Choreography: Estela Merlos
Music: Fennesz; Monsieur Sainte Colombe; Plastikman
Arranged by: Pierre Tapon
Costume: Estela Merlos and Caroline Hagley
Lighting: Luke Manning

Dancers: Anonette Dayrit
Choreography: Patricia Okenwa
Music: Geoff Holroyde and James Holroyde
Costume: Hyemi Shin
Lighting: Luke Manning

Dancers: Luke Ahmet, Lucy Balfour, Adam Blyde, Mark Kimmett, Hannah Rudd
Musicians: Laura Jurd (trumpet)
Choreography: Dane Hurst
Music: Tommy Evans
Set & Costume: takis
Lighting: Luke Manning

Dancers: Luke Ahmet, Lucy Balfour, Adam Blyde, Carolyn Bolton, Anonette Dayrit, Hannah Rudd, Pierre Tapon, Simone Damberg Würtz
Musicians: Eloisa Fleur-Thom (violin), Mandhira de Saram (violin), Clifton Harrison (viola), Alex Rolton (cello)
Choreography: Malgorzata Dzierzon
Music: Kate Whitley
Costume: Malgorzata Dzierzon and Caroline Hagley
Lighting: Luke Manning

This programme of five new works by dancer-choreographers at Rambert begins and ends with pieces that are performed to live music by the company’s chamber orchestra. In Mbulelo Ndabeni’s Yimani, composer Robert Millett alternates urgent percussion with more gentle strings. The work, which is dedicated to ‘the African women who grew up and fought apartheid’, presents the dancers as strong and active (which is to be expected from a company whose style has been described as ‘muscular’). Among the sometimes too disperse movement there are solos that take advantage of a dancer’s supple shoulders, and a duet in which the two women press into, or against, each other as if in expression of the mother-daughter dyad.

Malgorzata Dzierzon’s Hikkomori is performed to a string quartet by Rambert Music Fellow, Kate Whitley. The emotions of the piece (whose title refers to the Japanese phenomenon of young adults voluntarily withdrawing from the world) are refined, or distilled, through the attenuated music. Dancer Hannah Rudd’s movements are clean and sharp (not muscular, in this case) as she enacts the process of turning in on oneself. The other dancers move as a chorus behind her. A figure who could be her mother briefly emerges. A man and a woman are shown (again briefly) interacting with each other in a way that the central figure of the piece has renounced. The end sees the dancer on the floor, curled around herself with one leg raised to the vertical in a gesture of final resolve.

The first of the pieces performed to recorded music in between is Entre tú y yo, by Estela Merlos. The dancers wear everyday clothes and many of their movements are also taken direct from life. This can create a certain flatness of tone, but it also gives the work a surprising and unpredictable quality. The large mirror that is wheeled around the stage (as the four dancers deal, as two couples, with their own reflections and those of other people) is obtrusive at times, but is used to good effect at the end as one of the men has his own mirror image forced upon him. Patricia Okenwa’s Solo, which follows, takes dancer Antonette Dayrit through varied rhythms, velocities and forms of movement (in each of which she shows the sure-footedness of the Rambert dancer) to leave her on the edge of a circle of light and shadow with one hand floating upwards, like a bird.

The dancers in Dane Hurst’s Reminiscence (in which a solo trumpeter also appears) may be dressed in clothes they could wear off the stage, but they are formal (or at least stylized) clothes. They match the polished look that the piece has all round, with its wide rectangle of red carpet (laid out on the diagonal) and single prop of a bed (like those that you find in a doctor’s surgery). There is a polish to the choreography, too, which moves the dancers fluidly, sometimes sweepingly, around the stage. Of the five dancers in this piece, there will always be one who is unsatisfied and searching. After an introduction in which they all briefly appear, Hurst carefully allows each dancer to return for a solo. This gives the piece the air of a ‘psychological’ ballet (like those by Anthony Tudor perhaps). While some of the other choreographers asked their dancers to perform movements with which they were not quite comfortable, Hurst, like Balanchine, gives them movement that is ‘grateful’. At the end, as if they were characters in a psychological ballet, or a play, the dancers stand looking off to the side (the visual expression of a question mark) as the stage grows dark around them.

John O’Dwyer       

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