Rambert’s latest triple bill promises ‘murder, mystery and a party.’ Unfortunately only the latter part really makes an impact, despite the all-round excellence of the company’s dancers. The murder element of the evening comes second, in the form of Lucy Guerin’s Tomorrow. It’s a piece inspired by Macbeth, following the choreographer’s 2015 collaboration with Carrie Cracknell on a production at the Young Vic in which movement threatened to overtake the spoken word. Here Guerin attempts to distil the psychological and emotional disorder inherent in the text. Half the stage is dominated by seven male and female witches clad in pale tasselled smocks, whose convulsive juddering and swaying represents the unheimlich aspect of the play’s events, which are acted out in reverse order on the other side of the stage.
The audience is invited to make selective choices about where to look, but it’s impossible not to concentrate on the witches, because they’re the only ones doing any dancing. The Macbeths, Banquo, Duncan et al. are relegated to some very low-energy mime. Lady M looks a bit cross and the crown is put on people’s heads in a desultory way. Dressed all in black, they resemble a bunch of glum waiters who’ve got into a huff over a misplaced hat rather than characters from one of literature’s greatest tragedies.
Shobana Jeyasingh’s Terra Incognita, the first piece of the evening, definitely isn’t short on dance content. Based on ideas of journeying and exploration of the unknown, it’s set to a strange score by Gabriel Prokofiev, full of jarring strings, chugging electronic beats, whistles and rattles. The male dancers begin with powerful, tense phrases of movement – legs are extended into air quickly and defensively, and there’s an enigmatic quality to the repeated motif of deep plies that sink towards the stage, an occasional Indian accent in the articulation of the hands and wrists. The female dancers meanwhile remain still, folded in formation, before slinking into motion with a collective slide of the feet. Each sequence that follows is a taut, beautifully danced affair, but there’s no real development – rather than evoking mystery, it all feels very familiar.
So, it was a welcome wake-up call to be transported to a Sao Paulo fiesta via Itzhik Galili’s A Linha Curva. Accompanied by live band Percossa and helped out by students from the Rambert school, the company loosen their hips and heads in high-octane style. What appears to be a sensual Caipirinha-soaked samba-fest is actually an intricately structured maze of movement and lighting, which requires the revelling dancers to navigate a coloured chess board with perfect precision. I loved Hannah Rudd’s defiant solo, stalking the stage with casual disdain and then leaping with fiery brio in answer to a bunch of blokes whose hips wiggle suggestively in her direction. It’s an irresistibly jubilant end to the evening, testament to the discipline and dexterity of the Rambert dancers.
Rambert: Murder, Mystery and a Play is on until 14th May 2016. Click here for tickets.