The Rambert brings a triple bill to the Lowry, a mix of two well established favourites and one new piece of work.
The show opens with PreSentinent, created by choreographer Wayne McGregor for the Rambert in 2002. Full of powerful, athletic and often erotic moves, the dancers curve around each other’s bodies in a contortion of demanding poses. Both male and female dancers wear the same underwear-like costumes of lilac pants and tunic, illuminated by bold strips of lighting. The music by double Grammy award-winner, Steve Reich, is a harsh electronic sound that at times because of amplification sounds recorded, although it is live with four musicians two playing violin, one on viola and one on cello in the orchestra pit.
The string quartet is what links these three pieces closely, but the lack of variation in musical sounds is a downside to the evening, which gives all three works a slight feeling of sameness.
Marion Motin’s new piece, Rouge, comes second on the bill and is visually arresting. In her earlier career as a dancer, Motin performed with Madonna on her MDNA world tour in 2012, and the pop influence comes through strongly here in Motin’s choreography. Composer Micka Luna adds an electric guitar and percussion to the string quartet. Guitarist Rubén Martinez is central to the onstage performance, steeped in theatrical smoke which shrouds his feet and bellows from his hat.
The programme notes for the piece ask: ‘When your building is burning in the middle of the night what do you take with you?’ The dancers rise from the floor dressed like 1970s clubbers rather than sleepers, wearing an eclectic mix of fur coats and feather boas. They rise and fall back to the ground as if drugged, discarding much of their clothing along the way.
The dancers then enter what Motin calls the red zone, where bold lighting effects paint the dancers the rouge of the title. Neon strips frame the dances in what feels like a dystopian club where the clientele are giving it everything – dancing for their lives almost. Strobe lighting adds to the often frantic nature of the piece but unfortunately also make it challenging to watch because of the lengthy and continued strobe effects. That said, it was a definite winner with the audience at The Lowry, eliciting a spontaneous rise of energy in the audience and energised applause.
The final piece, is Hofesh Shechter’s 2007 work ‘In Your Rooms’, which he both choreographed and composed. The musicians – a trio of strings and percussion – are on stage throughout, on a raised platform that appears like a floating geometric window. Shechter creates an effective symmetry between the movement of the musicians, particularly the percussionists, and the dancers. He also makes use of voice over and projection which still has a provocative edge of political rebellion in its message of freedom of expression, mixed with mechanical movements and violent air punching.
It rounds off an evening of technically brilliant dance from one of the country’s leading contemporary dance companies.★ ★ ★ ★