Rambert Dance Company
'Visions Fugitive,' 'Ghost Dances,' '21'
by Thea Nerissa Barnes
May 21, 2003 -- Sadlers
Wells Theatre, London
A choreographer can state that his choreography has no meaning, but saying this is a meaning that comes with a significance and purpose of its own. Seeing dance is sometimes like seeing visual art. The eye scans the painting taking in the colour, noting the texture of the paint on the canvas and then I am faced with choices. Do I go beyond what is portrayed or linger on the surface? Photography presents a reality but can, like visual art, become a portal to what is really in my head not what is on the canvas or in the photo. No movement is without meaning. Every gesture, every step of locomotion, transfer of weight from one side of the stage to the other, the shaping of torso to progression around or by someone has a meaning created in my mind’s eye.
Rambert’s performance was
like this. Each work different in its use of space and movement vocabulary
but the relationship of dance to dancer, she to he, and the carving of
space supplied ample images, drew on memories, and touched interesting
infatuations even though two of the works indicate a non literality.
Van Manen’s program note states, “The choreography is what you see with no deeper meaning”. Oh how easy it is to say dismiss your inner ear and shade the theatre of the mind. But a work of such simple, infinite grace is such a vast canvas for my eye to see the movement, chase metaphors, and supply images that will last a lifetime.
Six dancers, four duets and manoeuvres from stage left to stage right range a colour scale that ,although presented in blues, greys, and black, travel vast shades of cool and hot. The vocabulary of conventional contemporary dance is pared down to lines with incidental curves. Movement without mood strangely alluded to meetings and passings, sassiness and playfulness combined with taunting glances and stern rebuffs. A pointed finger points a way as well as sends one off. Swaying hips camouflage while conventional 2nd position plié engulf and turns into something alluring and moody.
Hope Muir’s command and presence worked a counterpoint with Martin Lindinger’s youthful exuberance while Lucila Alves and Andrew Hurst added their own particular dynamic to the palette. By the end a duet by Paul Liburd and Miranda Lind leaves Lind on the floor. A duet began seemingly devoid of expression and chilly turns into anguish.
The mind has time to play
around when looking at this work making up images because the movement
is easily seen, well crafted and articulated. I, the witness can choose
to enjoy the beauty of exquisite dancing or gallop through my own inner
landscape and design my own significance. The music is a wiling accomplice
and so the dance despite van Manen’s advice has so much meaning.
The ghosts portrayed by Simon
Cooper, Paul Liburd and Martin Lindinger have not lost much of their dread
and the weight is still in evidence. From the start the stage space is
a way station that the ghost populate and the folk pass through. Death
moves around us all and claims everyone. Death waits and prowls before
close proximity take a man or a woman. In the mean time, just as life
does, the dance goes on, solos, duets and group configurations of intricate
foot and arm work. Folk moves synthesised within the fabric of contemporary
dance. As each member of the group meets an end the progression from upstage
left corner to downstage right corner to exit, the ghost move in, hide,
watch and in the end take their place to wait for the next group.
There were no pop culture remixes here; only contemporary dance of the sort that would probably not bode well with hard-core pop culture addicts. You have to have a good ear to hear the rhythmical textures in Wallfisch’s soundscape and a good eye to catch all the movement “signs” in this work.
In three seven-minute long sections (hence the name), "21" begins with a tame dynamic. Non literal in intention, the composition begins with three female dancers in underwear complete with stocking holders. This choice of costume, built on female undergarments, is across the board for all the dancers. The feel is not androgynous even though some of the lifting is unisex.
My reading of this dance is
that the imagery has parallels with similar castings in visual art. The
three graces, portrayed by Ruben’s curvaceous figures and Picasso’s variations
of mood blue, smooth curved women hint at the myth of Aphrodite. With
the opening cast of three female dancers, is Minogue the Aphrodite of
this landscape, a spirit to be adored, an object to be coveted? The lithe
muscularity of Amy Hollingsworth, Miranda Lind, and Samantha Smith ooze
a spirit that flops, raps around, and coils. The dancers’ legs slash and
whip to the side as the other lifts one dancer or two carry the one. The
dynamic is a monochrome glow like the neon light that stretches from side
to side and rises as one section of seven minutes ends and the other begins.
The dynami,c oddly, has hardly
escalated and now there are fourteen dancers on stage. The beginning entanglement
of the first three dancers becomes the viewer’s entrapment but it seems
some of these dancers do not know the power they have. I believe there
is another layer in this dance that needs to be discovered by the dancers’
performance that will take a bit of time to accomplish. The dancers’ movement
as well as their postures has to seem bigger than Minogue’s if not individually
as a group.
All the while the dancers
are twisting around, flinging legs, raping around each other being dragged
from one side of the stage to the other, tossed in the air enveloping
in same sex and opposite sex duets or trios or solos in this or that corner.
The movement is crafted and its manner distinct. If it is bacchanal it
is controlled, sedate even. Just when one would have thought the dynamic
of the movement would have changed with the changing of the light to red,
it coasted along on the same level, becoming more tangled in itself. Minogue
though remained the rapturous image.
Edited by Mary Ellen Hunt.
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