Rambert are at The Festival Theatre Edinburgh for three performances (Thu 20 to Sat 22 February) and, as always from this innovative dance company, the programme is varied to the point that the three works performed here fit into no identifiable (well to me anyhow) company identity. That is not a bad thing though as Rambert’s work with often cutting edge contemporary artists and choreographers is always, whether a personal favourite of yours or not, creating something that is interesting, and often challenging what people might consider dance to be able to do in terms of engaging an audience and telling a story, or making a statement.
First up on our programme schedule was “PreSentient” with concept, direction, choreography and set design by Wayne McGregor. Performed to music by one of my favourite contemporary composers, Steve Reich, this work perfectly interpreted and balanced the minimalism of his work to a live performance of Triple Quartet. Here, form, grace and style are coupled with the flexibility and power of a dancer’s body to create a work that at times creates as many unanswered questions as Steve Reich’s music itself. PreSentient was originally commissioned by Rambert in 2002, but over the years this work for twelve dancers is still as sharp as ever.
Our second out of three works this evening was Rouge, a new creation from Marion Motin. With influences firmly rooted in hip hop and working with artists such as Christine and the Queens and Dua Lipa it was always obvious that music, colour and fashion were going to be a large part of this new work, and the very distinctive sounds of Ruben Martinez playing guitar live on stage made sure that we all entered into a very sonic “Rouge Space” right from the opening moments of this work.
With music (Micka Luna), costume design (Yann Seabra) and lighting design (Judith Leray) this very visual performance could easily have been a video for MTV or part of a high end fashion show, and I suspect that someone’s emotional reaction and personal identification with this very physical dance work will depend upon their age and musical influences.
Rouge is asking us many questions here, but perhaps the most important one is when you find yourself in the “rouge zone” in your life, how do you not only find the strength to survive in there, but also somehow find the will-power to get out of the danger of “Rouge”. This is an interesting work from Marion Motin , who has until never worked with a contemporary dance company.
Closing tonight’s triple-performance show was another very physical work in the always changing shapes of “In your Rooms” with choreography and composition by Hofesh Shechter. With an original score created by Hofesh in collaboration with Nell Catchpole (The Gogmagogs), this work I found at times the most difficult to find my way into, and that perhaps is more of a tribute to its success than failure as here we are focusing on very personal moments in people’s lives and the sense of isolation and alienation that all too often is a part of modern day society. Do any of us have the answers of how to cope with the ever changing emotional and physical demands that everyday life places upon us, answers as how to fit into a society that often seems not for us? “In your Rooms” might not have the answers either, but it is at least asking some questions.
Review by Tom King (c) 2020