Rambert Dance Company High Wycombe

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
On the surface, Bob Dylan may seem a little dance-resistant but this did not deter Rambert's Christopher Bruce, whose 1993 piece, Moonshine, is choreographed to a clutch of Dylan's early Sixties demo recordings from his "Talkin' Blues" period. Some numbers are straightforward hayseed grief, such as "Man on the Street", others, like "Talkin' Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues" and "Talkin' Hava Nageilah Blues", are wry parodies of the whole genre.

Moonshine was originally made in 1993 for NDT3, the over-forties wing of the Nederlands Dans Theater, so Rambert's dancers (Didy Veldman, Christopher Powney, Steven Brett and Sheron Wray) are on top of the brisk folk-influenced steps. The character sketches of rural poverty may need older faces to really come across but there are powerful moments. In "No More Auction Block", Didy Veldman, one foot anchored to her suitcase, dances an unsettling overbalancing solo before the suitcase is finally whisked away and the dancer is suddenly frozen in a spotlight hanging from the noose of her scarf.

The evening's premiere was by Kim Brandstrup to music by Kim Helweg. The Danish choreographer's last work, Crime Fictions, was a danced film noir in which a man was killed and anyone could have dunnit. This brush with mystery has obviously given him an appetite for more and Eidolon (from the Greek word for phantom) is a mystifying narrative about a sleeping man whose bedroom is infiltrated repeatedly by a Victorian lady in red. The action is further complicated by two other couples and a "girl in grey" (his wife?) who all make countless entrances and exits to form some of Brandstrup's painterly compositions. The random, dream-like nature of the action is emphasised by the gauze scrim through which the whole work is viewed.The mysterious female comes complete with two sinister, rapier-toting sidekicks whose speciality is leaping and pirouetting in tandem. This doubling of movement is a recurring motif. Danced cleanly (which it was) this mirroring can render quite ordinary movements considerably more interesting. Which was just as well in the circumstances. The work concludes with the man and woman sleeping peacefully on the couch as the phantom returns dressed only in long drawers and camisole. The wife looks on as if wondering what on earth she's doing. She wasn't alone.

The evening's finale was provided by Kol Simcha (Voice of Celebration) - a recent work by Didy Veldman performed to Adam Gorb's score, inspired by klezmer (traditional Eastern European Jewish dance music), played onstage by London Musici. The circusy music with its wheezing accordions and braying horns is matched by the playful informality of the dance. Idling performers drink wine on stepladders while party people, by turns tense, flirtatious and quarrelsome, dance and fight over wine bottles. The overall effect was rather like a sneak preview of the cast party with all the intrigue, drama and uncertainty that would entail.

Christopher Bruce, always anxious to avoid the obvious crowd-pleasers, had selected a sound but wilfully low-key mixed bill to begin Rambert's autumn tour in High Wycombe. Friday's programme eschewed proven hits like Swansong and Stabat Mater in favour of newer, less familiar works. Other venues will be more fortunaten

The Rambert tour continues at Sheffield Lyceum tomorrow to Sat (0114 2769922), then Carlisle, Cardiff and Bristol