Rambert’s mixed programme Dance may have a rather unimaginative title, but it does what it says on the tin – three very different short pieces combine to create an evening showcasing the versatility of the company.
It opens with the unsettling Eye Candy, a piece by Imre and Marne van Opstal which claims to show ‘the pains and the pleasures of inhabiting the human body.’ But far from exploring human emotion, the dancers seem more like emotionless mannequins with their blank expressions and stilted movements – an impression heightened by the fake six packs and breasts of their silicon bodysuit costumes.
The objectification of women in particular is a theme throughout, with female dancers groped, grabbed and manipulated like dummies. This sits oddly alongside a vaguely comical duet between two of the male dancers, who gesture, pull faces and make noises.
Ben Duke’s Cerberus blends theatre, dance and comedy in its take on death and Greek mythology. The premise – that a dancer has crossed into the underworld by exiting stage left – is set up by recorded voiceover and two dancers speaking directly to the audience; this provokes laughter but feels overly long as an introduction. Once the piece gets going however, it’s fabulous.
Dancers in all black suits, full-length dresses, lace and headpieces strut across the stage to a pulsating dance music beat as if on a catwalk, breaking out of the line to perform dazzling solo moves. The dramatic, gothic aesthetic of the costumes and vivid red backdrop complements the funereal theme, as does the live performance of Monteverdi’s Lamento della Ninfa. The thumping percussion – also played live – is more of a curveball.
The programme concludes with Following the Subtle Current Upstream, a work which takes inspiration from nature – evident in the green costumes and the use of thunderstorm sounds in the score – and the human search for joy.
Alonzo King’s choreography is definitely a source of joy, its fluidity and dynamism allowing the dancers to flaunt their technique and stamina. Ballet-inspired in shape and movement, King takes classical steps and gives them a contemporary spin. It’s pure, undiluted dance and definitely my highlight of the programme.
Rambert – Dance is at The Lowry from 25-27 May 2022.