Classical Music and Dance
Rambert Dance Company
Rambert Dance Company @ Regent
Rambert Dance Company accompanied by London Musici visited The Regent Theatre in Hanley. Chris Ramsden went along to check out their programme which included a new revival of Christopher Bruce's Swansong.
Fred Astaire will never be the same again. At the centre of the stunning performance by the Rambert Dance Company at the Regent in Hanley is Swansong, in which two torturers use tap dance to intimidate their victim. Somehow, I’d never quite seen before the sinister menace of tap; but Rambert can do that. Ginger, eat your heart out.
Swansong is now apparently a modern dance classic, some twenty years old.
It’s appropriate that Rambert should be performing classics, since it’s the oldest dance company in Britain, formed eighty years ago by Dame Marie Rambert.
Leotards, swimsuits and sports gear
But there is certainly nothing old-fashioned about this team. I made some flippant comment about putting on a tutu in my preview of this visit. I suspect these dancers would have to ask what a tutu is. Leotards, swimsuits and sports gear are in, for this is a veritable encyclopaedia of modern dance.
The programme opens with L’eveil, “Waking Up”, which immediately brings the first surprise; there’s a jazz singer on stage with the half-dozen bathing beauties. But if you don’t like that, there’s Constant Speed, inspired, apparently, by Einstein’s theories on Brownian motion, and featuring a mirror ball bigger than the Mecca on a Saturday night. Swansong is next, and the performance finishes with Anatomica #3, which apparently deals with images of the body as dictated in the media. It features lots of semi-nudity and a firework display of bodies to round off the evening.
Being the sort of old-fashioned chap I am, my favourite was Constant Speed, which was funny and seemed to have a story of some sort, if you could only put your finger on it (but then, that, as I understand it, is how Brownian motion works. Didn’t someone say that if you thought you understood it, you didn’t?)
more pans than in Gordon Ramsey’s kitchen
It’s also the only item with Real Music. Swansong has electronic music by Philip Chambon, whose raw and eerie sounds fit the story. Anatomica uses live percussion music reflecting the impact and energy of the dancing; I urge you to snatch a quick look in the pit to see more pans than in Gordon Ramsey’s kitchen.
But Constant Speed has some lovely Franz Lehar, beautifully played by London Musici. Mind you, though they might be playing the Gold and Silver Waltz, the dancers certainly aren’t in ¾ time.
It’s also the one with the best costumes, apparently down to Einstein’s photo-electric effect. The girls have floaty dresses which change colour, and large pom-poms on the tops of their head.
I left with the feeling of having been carried on a wave of energy, even if I didn’t completely understand where it was going. And with one question; How on earth do they get those pom-poms to stay on?
WHERE I’LL BE NEXT
Can the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra really be playing Dvorak’s third symphony at the Victoria Hall in Hanley on Friday? It’s absolutely lovely, full of life and motive force, and if you love the New World you‘ll be captivated by this; but early Dvorak is hardly ever played in concert halls. Well done, CBSO.
last updated: 22/11/07