Rambert Dance Company, Sadler's Wells, London
Wednesday 01 June 2011
Rambert, which celebrates its 85th anniversary this year, is in very good shape for its birthday. Work is about to start on a new purpose-built home on London's South Bank, while this triple bill brings a handsome staging of a classic and a strong new work. The dancing is splendid.
Roses is a lush work, created in 1985 by Paul Taylor, one of the major figures in 20th-century dance. In the first section, five couples dance to Wagner's Siegfried Idyll, in a taut performance conducted by Paul Hoskins. Taylor's dancing is lyrical. The whole company weave into circle dances – arms outstretched, but hands not touching. One by one, the couples step forward for duets.
The women, in long black dresses, strike curving, balletic poses. At the same time, Taylor adds characteristically athletic modern dance moves. Dancers cartwheel, tumble over each other's backs, pack a jump into a single note of music. Women step up onto their partner's thighs, an airy shape supported on a deep plié. The muscular force of those steps adds texture to the flowing lines of Taylor's choreography. The romance of Roses is both lavish and grounded.
At the end, Taylor adds another couple, dancing to Heinrich Baermann's clarinet adagio. Dressed in white, Pieter Symonds and Mark Kimmett dance in a lighter, more formal style, fluidly serene. It's a fine performance of a rich work.
Tim Rushton's Monolith was created for Rambert this year. For the past decade, the British-born Rushton has been director of Danish Dance Theatre, so this is a rare chance to see him working with a British company. In Monolith, danced to chamber music by Peteris Vasks, the dancers move among the standing stones of Charlotte Ostergaard's set. As a group of dancers stretch and curl on the floor, a soloist will pace between them, crossing the stage in plain walks or stopping in taut positions. Men vanish behind the monoliths, then step out onto their companions' shoulders. Rushton's steps are weighty, dancers pushing into the ground in long lunging moves.
Rambert's dancers are terrific: intelligent and stylish across a range of repertory. Even Cardoon Club, Henrietta Horn's vapid opener, had a sculpted performance, before the company rose to the challenges of Roses and Monolith.
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