Rambert are Britain’s national dance company, and this most recent triple bill named Love, Art and Rock n Roll is a selection of some old favourites likely to disappear from their rep soon, and some more experimental new works. This company’s exclusive mix of dancers from both classical and contemporary backgrounds regularly makes for visually stunning fusions, the two working together to create both unique and technically strong performances.
Newly commissioned The 3 Dancers is first up, a work inspired by Picasso’s painting of the same name. It’s an interesting experiment that attempts to match Cubism to dance and movement as the dancers take us on a journey through different emotions. The piece actually moves quite fluidly, at times even hypnotically as the interplay between the six dancers unfolds. There are nice touches such as three of the dancers in white and three in black illustrating the light and shade within both the painting and their movements. Brenda Lee-Grech is particularly stunning in this, her classical past obvious from her glorious lines and extension, my eye was repeatedly drawn to her.
Perhaps most memorable of the evening is Kim Brandstrup’s Transfigured Night, a piece that succeeds in being beautifully romantic yet still delivering the emotional weight necessary to tell the heart-breaking story. It takes inspiration from the poem by Richard Dehmel where a women tells her lover she is pregnant with another man’s child. The piece is then divided into three scenes that contemplate various outcomes through three duets. The narrative is told effectively by the all of the performers, the chorus of dancers in black fill the stage dramatically, symbolising the turmoil occupying the woman’s mind. Simone Damberg Würtz is devastatingly vulnerable in this lead roll as she faces her dilemma. Add Arnold Schoenberg’s emotive score into the mix and it makes for a captivating work that would undoubtedly be even better on a second viewing. Dane Hurst’s pure strength in the section where he dances on his hands is a bit of a showstopper too.
Rooster is a journey through the Rolling Stone back catalogue and a hugely satisfying end to the evening. First premiered in 1994 it’s performed with a knowing confidence that the audience will love it – it’s their own party piece choreographed by Christopher Bruce. Once again I’m drawn to the classical performers, Hannah Rudd is wonderfully fluid and with her effortless leaps and jumps is hugely watchable. However it would be impossible to talk about this piece without taking the time to admire Miguel Altunaga’s utter flair as he struts around the stage, the ultimate cocky rooster, he is all you could ever want for this role.
Love, Art and Rock n Roll is a winning combination for Rambert, as well as a masterclass in versatility.
First published on LondonTheatre1.com