Review: Rambert at Nottingham Theatre Royal.

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The keys to appreciating modern ballet is the same as classical ballet; one needs to try to understand the emotions conveyed through each inspired dance form. These emotions are demonstrated through the choreographed movements coupled with the music and the combined visual effect. This reviewer’s interpretation of the form might sound simplistic but why complicate matters when you are watching three short programmes of superb dance from Rambert.

Rambert is 90 this year and as Artistic Director Mark Baldwin says “We may be 90 but we are not slowing down!”

Rambert’s repertoire is regularly refreshed with new works and this week at Nottingham Theatre Royal, we have the Miners’ Strike inspired Dark Arteries with a live brass band (Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band), The 3 Dancers choreographed by Didy Veldman and Frames choreographed by Alexander Whitely.

Mark Baldwin choreographs Dark Arteries with an eye to realising diverse human energies built up to match and counter composer Gavin Higgins sometimes deeply sombre and emotional brass band score. This same score periodically gives us dramatic outbursts and equally combustive exhibitions of dance. Visually one catches hints at classical Greek mythologies; the female part of the dance chorus in their sweeping long skirts arcing and gesturing; the macho men’s push pull movements portraying the labour of the miners and their personal combative stories. Two red costumed men become like one headless monster locked in eternal combat with itself and two of the female dancers have the graces and appearance of Greek muses. The whole effect is very moving and expressive.

The 3 Dancers actually has six dancers but the title applies to dance inspirations drawn from Picasso’s painting of the same name. Choreographer Didy Veldman has worked with the dancers plus music composer Elena Kats-Chernin and designer Kimie Nakano to explore ideas relating to Cubism and human emotions. They have taken themes from the painting and Picasso’s life to develop the piece and from it we find the dancers expressing the passions of love as well as relationship tensions and manipulation: the latter being particularly strongly demonstrated. Nakano’s black and white set is invaded throughout the piece by large shards of mirror that further distort the bold choreography and hint at suicidal actions.

The final piece is Frames. With music by Daniel Bjarnoson and a strongly raked stage design by artists Revital Cohen and Tuur van Balen the work is choreographed by Alexander Whitley. Frames is a collaborative dance work using the dancers as workers in a factory. The tangible and imaginary collide as the workers attempt to piece together an object from long metal strips that serves no purpose but to create choreography. Together (with the metal strips) the dancers explore the space with some extra-ordinarily inventive dance and like all of Rambert’s dance work the movement has incredible lightness and fluidity.

Altogether, a superb evening of richly varied modern ballet by the ever impressive Rambert dance company.

Phil Lowe

Originally reviewed for Nottingham Post 24-02-56

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