Review: Ballet Rambert. A Lihna Curva & Other Works. Nottingham Theatre Royal.

For those who loved Ballet Rambert’s Ghost Dancer 2016/17 tour it will come as little surprise to know that their latest offering, A Lihna Curva & Other Works, more than lives up to its promotional material as a diverse three act exposition of extra-ordinary dance.

The choreography and vision in A Lihna Curva is in the spirit of a sexy, riotous Brazilian carnival all recreated by choreographer Itzik Galili. Galili is also responsible for the dynamic lighting and costumes. The music is by Percossa. The show incorporates twenty eight dancers, four samba percussionists and a truly dazzling light show that certainly contributes to its contagious energy in which precision is demonstrated and paramount to its success. This opening piece is one to get the Nottingham Theatre Royal audience responding in ecstatic applause.

Accompanied by a pulsating percussion score the fluid dancers take on capoeira forms, salsa and samba next to more contemporary movements. It is an exciting and dance varied piece telling many a story of unrequited flirting, sex appeal and competition amongst the sexes and stuns with its superb lifts and some of the most daring leaps and catches in the Rambert repertoire. For anyone in the audience coming to contemporary dance for the first time A Lihna Curva is a brilliant introductory piece. The GCSE students in the audience go wild with appreciation.

Symbiosis is choreographed by the internationally acclaimed dance maker Andonis Foniadakis and has a new score by BAFTA and Ivor Novello award nominated composer Ilan Eshkeri. It is a marvellous dance celebration of the Rambert dancers’ skills. Foniadakis, in his dance expression of big city life exploits, to best effect, the urban athleticism and muscularity of his finely cast dancers. Together with Eshkeri’s newly commissioned score Symbiosis superbly evokes the daily habits of commuters in a surprisingly eloquent way. As Greek choreographer Foniadakis explains “Symbiosis is inspired by the energy created in cities each and every day as we try to exist in an era fuelled by digital technology. There is an urban pulse in the piece in which people collide as they might on a crowded city street, but they adapt to their surroundings, collaborate and co-exist.” The work has a  sometimes deliberate state of uncertainty running through it which Foniadakis describes as ‘a tense kind of energy in the performers individually and in the group. It has an empathetic narrative, an emotional journey.’

As in the Ghost Dancer programme we have a triple bill of dance and to complete this review we have the darkly funny and deeply moving Goat choreographed by rising star Ben Duke. Like the recent Nina seen and reviewed at Curve by East Midlands Theatre, the piece is inspired by the music and spirit of Nina Simone. It has a selection of her best loved songs performed live on stage by superb jazz singer Nia Lynn. Duke’s inspiration for the piece is about how dancers express emotion on stage and whilst the piece starts out amusingly we then get taken into the world of Nina Simone where she appeared to deeply express all of the intense emotions featured in songs such as ‘Ain’t Got No- I Got Life’, a cover of Feelings and the bleak ‘Ballad of Hollis Brown’. The ideas of sacrifice, a blending of emotional truths creating a surprisingly affecting relationship between real world passions and on stage action and many individual emotionally tortured outbursts make Goat an unusual yet compelling end piece.

Highly recommended. Top class modern dance.

Runs from Tue 27 Feb- Thur 1 March.

Reviewer: Phil Lowe.

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