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Rambert Dance Company

Nicola Mostyn gets the big picture at the Quays

Published on September 27th 2007.

Rambert Dance Company

In explaining what Rambert Dance Company aims to do, artistic director Mark Baldwin compares dance to visual art, as though the company has a palette of different styles which choreographers can draw on to create powerful and distinctive pieces. “Rather like visiting an art gallery,” read his words in the brochure text, “today you will see four very different works.”

Rambert have been established since 1926 making them the oldest dance company in Britain. They are also one of the most popular, managing to appeal to both the traditional dance fan and (if the crowds of wolf-whistling teenage girls were anything to go by) a younger, more lively audience.

Again, variety seems to be key and to prove it the programme began with the striking L’eveil, a work in which six female dancers in stylish black bathing costumes performed a dance of fluid, jerky, muscular movements which began to the gentle sound of a gong and developed to the gorgeous, uplifting strains of the Nina Simone song Feeling Good. This set a sharp and effective contrast to the programme’s closing work Infinity, a new piece by Australian chorographer Garry Stewart which explores the theme of death and mortality via dancers in flowing white costumes performing against a backdrop of falling red petals.

Before this, the more traditional elements of dance were re-visited in Gran Partita, a graceful piece set to Mozart. Here male and female dancers in muted pastel costumes performed delicate, flowing ballet-style movements against a stage decorated only with simple muslin curtains. Likely to appeal to the more conventional dance fan, this work was a light, flowing, period affair which did not display too much in the way of drama and which was gently enjoyable rather than stunning.

The opposite was true of Stand and Stare, a dance which chimed in beautifully with the idea of Rambert Dance Company offering a gallery of art works, since it was inspired by the work of L.S Lowry and commissioned by and performed in the building which has taken the Salford artist’s name and celebrates his works.

Stand and Stare was choreographed by Darshan Singh Bhuller in 2006 to commemorate 30 years since L.S Lowry’s death. Set to Bartok’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion, it is playful, brooding and intriguing by turns, the stage set with a series of gigantic Bacon-esque artworks in which sinister faces can be discerned.

Bhuller has taken Lowry’s assertion that he was a “simple man” and challenged it with a piece which takes the initial idea of stick figures walking across the canvas and then reveals something more complex. The dancers are dressed in black with flashes of colour showing occasionally, a possible echo of the layered nature of Lowry’s works. Inspired by those familiar Lowry scenes, crowds move en-masse in hectic yet flowing sequences.

This piece is full of beautiful, arresting movements: several dancers spring from their static position into a run, elsewhere they burst into tumbles, describing whirling and kaleidoscopic movements. Two images which stand out are when the dancers go from standing to falling rapidly onto their hands in quick succession and a sequence in which a small female dancer fights her way through the oncoming crowd.

For those with reservations about contemporary dance, Rambert is a great way in. After watching these aesthetically-amazing artists perform such creative and inspiring works it becomes clear that dance is about expressing something which cannot be said in any other way and, in this way, is an extension of every other art form, being both more progressive and more primal. The fact that they inspire all those wolf whistles is really just a bonus.

Rambert Dance Company
World View Tour,
The Lowry,
Salford Quays

0870 787 5780

Sat 29,
from £13.50

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