Rambert dance company is back in its home of the Sadler’s Wells theatre with a new triple bill. Featuring the London Premiere of ‘Frames’, the revival of ‘Four Elements’ and the world première of ‘Dark Arteries’ – the first brass band dance work in the world – the company excel in the effortless sophistication of contemporary dance.
‘Frames’, choreographed by Alexander Whitley, is perhaps my favourite of the three shows. It forced me to remember exercises I was taught at university that are practised by director Anne Bogart. The aforementioned exercises force you to think about several elements when acting on stage, usually including space, shape, time, emotion and movement. The whole piece seems to be Whitley’s on-stage presentation of an experiment with all of these things, and forces us as an audience to question the relationship of each of them to the proscenium arch of the stage, and whether it changes our perception of dance when objects are used within it. The beauty of the Rambert dancers is that they have a flawless ability to switch their fast-paced, highly technical movements to soft, gentle and understated in seconds.
‘Four Elements’ by Lucinda Childs provides the middle sequence. Using distinct elements of minimalism in her work, ‘Four Elements’ proves to be the most hypnotic of the pieces. Representing earth, air, wind and fire, the dancers in patterned leotards perform the leaping, turning choreography with flair and precision, often their pas de deux becoming entrancing in their presentation of the natural states. Accompanied by artwork by Jennifer Bartlett, the piece is a showcase in using minimalist movements to create intricate dance works.
Finally, the world premiere of ‘Dark Arteries’ provides the evening’s main event. A collaboration between Rambert’s artistic director Mark Baldwin and composer Gavin Higgins, the piece explores the boundaries between movement and music, and how they guide each other along. The on-stage Tredegar Town Band provide the backdrop for the dark piece, the timbre of the tuba players that open the sequence sending shivers through your body. Using a brass band, that were and still are the hearts of some mining communities, the piece has a new resonance by being performed thirty years after the miners’ strike, and the week after the general election. Here we see an innate combination of dance, politics and music that gives the intricate choreography a heightened sense of the contemporary.
Whilst the three pieces all display immaculate choreography, it is the skill of the dancers that should be applauded most ardently. As they leap, spin and jeté around the stage, it is clear that Rambert dance company are still at the very top of their contemporary dance game.
Rambert is playing at Sadler’s Wells until 16 May. For more information and tickets, see the Sadler’s Wells website.