Rambert Dance Company
'21', 'Visions Fugitives', 'Elsa Canasta'
by Kate Snedeker
November 5, 2003 -- Edinburgh Festival Theater, Edinburgh, Scotland
Competing with the colorful
explosions of Guy Faulkes Day fireworks and the last minute lead-up to
the MTV-Europe Music Awards for the attention of Edinburghers, the Rambert
Dance Company faced a stiff challenge. However, on Wednesday evening at
the Festival Theater, the company combined impressive talent with its
tradition of innovation to put on a performance that neither fireworks
nor MTV could match. The program included Rafael Bonachela's "21",
"Visions Fugitives" by Hans van Manen, and Javier de Frutos'
This sense of isolation continues
in the second section, where images of Ms. Minogue are projected onto
a thin scrim in front of the dancers. Yet while she seems serene, almost
introspective, the action behind her onstage is jagged, powerful and without
expression. Faces do not smile or frown, and partnering, though very capably
performed, seems perfunctory. Human contact in this strange world of adoration
appears to elicit no feeling. It is, perhaps, an apt depiction of the
raw, unpleasant flip side of celebrity...talent, energy, perfection, contact,
but little real emotion. There is an emptiness to the adoration of celebrity--an
adoration of a facade, not a real flesh and blood person. Baker and Macdonald's
simple costumes--flesh colored briefs and bra or tank tops--add to the
neutral, expressionless feel of the piece
The finely striped unitards by Keso Dekker create a sense of constant motion, but more attention to the cut and choice of color would have made the unitards more flattering on the wide variety of body shapes and sizes in the company. Though danced with polish, especially in the controlled and powerful duet by Angela Towler and Fabrice Serafino, the vignettes never quite seemed to coalesce into a coherent whole. Prokofiev's miniatures, characterized by pizzicato notes and a minor keys, did not always seem to transition as quickly or as completely as the vignettes onstage.
The very sinister ending
also asked more questions than it answered. Why after so much sly humor
do we see a woman dance with her partner until she falls in an unmoving
heap on the floor, ignored by her partner and everyone else onstage? Is
it merely a case of choreography matching the music, or a deeper comment
about human emotion?
As the two men head up the stairs, the action picks up with a montage of other relationships played out on the stage and stairs. The mood is erotic, but playful with energy to burn. One scene, in which two men each dance with three women, hints at an Balanchinian inspiration, the dancers striking a pose much like the famous image in Apollo: three female muses, all supported in arabesque by the god Apollo, each woman's leg at a different angle. In a series of duets, we see squabbling couples, until finally the stage erupts into playful, sensual, squabbling chaos. To the strains of "Ridin' High", the chaos subsides, people exiting until just the original male couple remains.
De Fruto's choreography is
powerful and original, though occasionally bordering on excessive repetition.
He also makes wonderful use of the sole prop, the curving staircase. It
is not only an exit and entrance, it becomes part of the action. The women
leap off the stairs, caught at seemingly the last possible moment, and
in one duet, the woman topples backwards off the stairs into her partners
arms, only to be gently pushed backed into a standing position, repeating
the action on each step.
Edited by Holly Messitt
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