Camut Band, Lyric, Shaftesbury Ave, London

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

The odd thing about Life is Rhythm, Camut Band's dance and percussion show, is that the dancing gets better when they move on to audience participation. Bodies move more loosely and energy levels rise.

The odd thing about Life is Rhythm, Camut Band's dance and percussion show, is that the dancing gets better when they move on to audience participation. Bodies move more loosely and energy levels rise.

Camut Band is a Catalan troupe of percussionists and tap dancers. Most of the drumming is from West Africa, where founder member Toni Español lived for some years. Returning to Barcelona, he led an African dance and rhythm group, and then started Camut Band with the tap dancers Rafael and Lluis Mendez.

The show employs a huge range of percussion instruments, mainly drums: drums big enough to dance on, double drums and flamenco box drums, an earthenware pot drum. The dancing is also percussive; all tap, with a real range of sound in those feet.

Life is Rhythm has the popular slant of shows such as Tap Dogs, but it really is serious about rhythm. The dancing is full of time changes and shifting sounds. When we arrive at that audience participation scene, it is pitched at a level the audience finds slightly difficult. Español glares at us from under his brows, does it again slowly, and is awfully disappointed when we clap seven beats rather than six.

Elsewhere, the performers go in for a lot of silent comedy. A solo on the pottery udu drum is spun out with a mime of buzzing flies and other things caught in the drum. It all gets rather cute and heavy-handed.

Another scene has three men at a bar table, looking like working men in a Mediterranean café. There's a great deal of face-pulling, but there's also a scat conversation in rhythmic nonsense syllables. It has quick changes of speed and texture, and it contrives to keep a conversational rhythm going alongside the increasingly sophisticated mouth music.

The group's dance star is the young Guillem Alonso. His first solo, a sand dance, opens beautifully, with sand being shaken and poured out in spirals. The dancing starts off goofy, with Alonso almost strutting on the spot and eyeing the audience.

But he is a fluid dancer, and he soon gets more serious. The rhythms build up and change, and he moves into long one-legged phrases, one foot kicking the air in time to the percussion of the other. His final solo is characterised by intricate changes of sound, with great scratches done with the sides and points of the feet, besides the hard stomping.

Not all of the dancing is as good as that. The company don't always have the variety of dance movements to bring off what are essentially long drum-solos. Some comic scenes are overdrawn. But Life is Rhythm is an energetic show, with much more dance style than many of its rivals.

To 22 Oct (020-7494 5045)

Comments