Review: Ballet Rambert. Ghost Dances. Nottingham Theatre Royal.

Ballet Rambert are dancing their proverbial socks off at the Theatre Royal Nottingham Tue 28- Thurs 30 March. Given tonight’s rapturous applause anyone still wishing to book for this fabulous dance company this time round, with Christopher Bruce’s Ghost Dances as their main attraction, better get their dancing shoes on and their credit card out, sharpish.

As part of the Theatre Royal selection of dances Ballet Rambert offer up three sumptuous dance pieces, each radically different to the other. First off is Flight – a piece inspired by stories, images and conversations of the choreographer Malgorzata Dzierzon’s experiences and impressions of travel and migration. Other than the terrific dancers, the stage is inhabited by a movable wall in sections onto which we see projections that influence the close knit dance element of the piece. Each visual impression is conjectural; meaning that it is down to the onlooker to interpret the meaning of the imagery for themselves. This reviewer saw an initial burst of fireflies and a continuum of abstract projections that lend themselves to Russian Constructivism in design blended with Cubism. As always the dancing from Ballet Rambert is electric, superbly timed and emotionally absorbing.

The second piece, Hydragyrum choreographed by Patricia Okenwa is totally mercurial in demonstration. Initially the dancing is in the almost pitch black with light gradually seeping in from the wings and from reflections in a giant mirror that very slowly turns onto its back as the piece progresses. The dancers are dressed somewhat ninja style and act and react to their choreographed groupings like contained yet occasionally rampant amoeba. There is lots of intriguing head twitching and breakaway movements going on here. As the piece progresses the dance and light shows us the gradual slide from clothed to seeming naked dancers and a progression into a freer state of being and some joyous individualism. Hydragyrum creates distinct dynamics between connection and disconnection, between individuality and togetherness.

As all great dance companies might, Rambert save the very best and perhaps most accessible piece, until last. Throughout the evening’s exciting dance programme we are indebted to the live music of the Rambert orchestra in all three pieces. Most poignant is the Chilean pan pipes and South American folk music arranged by the late Nicholas Mojsiejenko that accompanies Ghost Dances choreographed by Christopher Bruce. Creatively Ghost Dances absorbs many cultural influences from Latin American, its rituals, masks and fascinations with the Days Of The Dead. Mass killings by the Pinochet regime have a major impact on the beautiful but deeply sad nature of the piece. In a contradiction of form this multi-level acclaimed dance work has the three ghost dancers recreating joyous moments of their own lives on earth in amongst the ghostly culling of the living dancers. The live score gives the piece added gravity. In all three pieces the Rambert dancers dance with absolute precision and freedom and are a dance joy to behold.

Reviewer: Phil Lowe

Originally written for Nottingham Post. 28th March 2017.

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