Rambert Dance Company
Britain's leading contemporary dance troupe are back, but are they running out of steam? Not if the queues are anything to go by. Words: Ellie Carr
Three years ago, Rambert Dance Company re-launched into the atmosphere after a dark spell of two years, with 32 highly trained dancers and a radically different agenda. Slick 905 marketing blew cobwebs away from a tired old regime. New Rambert would not gaze into its navel. Like its model, Nederlands Dans Theater, it w0u|d marry the opposing camps of ballet and contemporary dance in one sweet, accessible union. It was a popular ticket that sold well.
Three years, however, is a long time in lycra tights. Rambert has had to sweat hard to persuade its new-found mass audience to stay on after the honeymoon ended. EspeCially when, as the ineVitable merry-go-round of touring sets in, some of the pieces in those trademark mixed bills have been
seen several times before. Rambert has overcome this by making sure its dancers alone are worth going back for; and by including in each programme at least one dead-cert number for which punters will queue round the block.
One such number is artistic director Christopher Bruce’s Rooster (1991), visiting Edinburgh for the second time as the company arrives on its spring tour. Set to a medley of Rolling Stones songs, it has become Rambert's smash hit. The sexy, sassy 'rock' ballet has become almost a Swan Lake for the 90s, even eliciting an official thumbs- up from Mick Jagger himself.
So that's the old stuff, but what of the new? Stream (1996) is the latest from Bruce. Seen in Northampton at the start of the spring tour, it takes its cue from the icy-cool sound of
contemporary composer Philip Chambon. It sounds like an exercise in 70s
obscurity. In the pure energy
An invisible thread of
Jumped up: Rambert Dance in Christopher Bruce's latest piece. Stream
smoothly satisfying Eido/on (1996).
So far so mainstream. But as promised in the first flushes of re- launch, New Rambert is taking risks. The latest is Per Jonsson, a Swedish choreographer with a thing for
flesh it is a together their twitchy, fast, frenetic masterly work, ' combinations and bristling with Sporad|c'_even ugly earbusting atmosphere that moves With a strange. contemporary needs no sounds. His first
, hectic grace. explanation. Bruce
makes the most of his excellent dancers (six of whom are new), teasing ever more startling, reflexive moves from under their skin.
Also on the Edinburgh bill are the Scottish premieres of Paul Taylor's virtuosic masterpiece Airs (1978) and Danish choreographer Kim Brandstrup’s
piece for Rambert, Jupiter Is Crying, featured great flocks of dancers in shimmery satin charging round stage at (almost) the speed of sound.
Also seen in Northampton, Jonsson's Port For Angels is a thwacking great lump off the Jupiter block Shiny- legged dancers swarm through fast-
new shows THEATRE
pulsing formations. An invisible thread of pure energy holds together their twitchy, sporadic, even ugly moves with a strange, hectic grace. Matching this alien feel, Lars Akerlund's score is all weird fuzz and frequencies.
Jonsson is a precocious talent, but a talent nonetheless. Port For Ange/s is anarchic and in need of pruning, but has a streak of rare originality that makes him one to watch.
Not everyone's cup of pickled herring perhaps, but then, where Rambert are concerned there’s always a Rooster round the corner. And with dancers like these, it’s worth tucking in to whatever they’re serving.
Edinburgh Festival Theatre. Wed 11/ Thurs 12 Jun (EidolonlStream/Rooster); Fri 13ISat 14 Jun (Port For Angels! Quicksilver/Airs).
Rednecks go Roman: Seven Brides For Seven Brothers
Seven Brides For Seven Brothers
Glasgow: King's Theatre, Tue 10-Sat 21 Jun.
'Them women were sobbin’, sobbin', sobbin’ fit to be tied .' Incredible as it may seem, this classic MGM musical cheerfully bases itself on the rape of the Sabine women (sobbin'/Sabine — geddit7). a Wildly reprehensible episode from the history of the Roman Empire. In Lawrence Kasha and Dawd S. Landay's 1954 retelling, seven rednecks abduct seven women, fixin’ to coerce them into seven allegedly happy marriages. That’s a PC take on what is in fact a merry sort of romp — the film made a star of Howard Keel. Now a new stage verSion comes to Glasgow,
with a cast led by Mark McKerracher, who starred in The Phantom Of The Opera in Edinburgh last year. It ain’t what you'd call subtle, but — bless its beautiful hide — it's fun.
CONTEMPORARY DANCE Tweed Venus
Edinburgh: Traverse Theatre, Sat 31 May.
If you're a waterproof-wearing tourist looking for the full 'Scottish' experience, Arlette George's Tweed Venus is not for you. Sticking two fingers up at recently re~fuel|ed image of Scotland The Braveheart, Highland- born George has created her own tartan terror from all the mist-filled myths of Scotland she’s ever known. Kitsch Hollywood musical Brigadoon
and fairytale ballet La Sy/phi'de both feature prominently in this ironic dance piece set In an imaginary Highland glen. Performing to a soundtrack of live bagpipes, electro-acoustic music and text, George and her duet partner Stephen Kirkham (The Featherstonehauglis) play lovers who are charmed by tartan-trimmed surroundings, but eventually come down to earth, and the real Scotland, with a mist-clearing bang. (Ellie Carr)
COMEDY DRAMA Weekend Breaks Greenock Arts Guild, Mon 9 Jun. Paisley Arts Centre, Tue 10/Wed 11 Jun.
The latest play from Hull Truck Theatre Company makes a brief Visit to Scotland on a massive UK tour. Written, like most Of Hull Trucks
Flamenco in their heart: Jaleo
output, by the ever-popular John Godber, Weekend Breaks centres on that difficult transition from childhood to maturity. Difficult for parents, that is. The play centres on a two-day outing 33-year-old Martin takes with his old dears, and as the title suggests, there's more than one type of break involved. Despite his PhD, divorce, children, published novels and adult independence, Martin’s parents treat him like a wee boy, which winds him up like an alarm clock. The result is a truth session that nobody bargained for. if you've ever had parents, it may all sound horribly familiar.
Glasgow: Tron Theatre, Wed 4—Sat 7 Jun.
‘ We Scots have developed an
increasingly smouldering relationship With flamenco in recent years. From Paco Pena and pals to Compania Antonio Gades, the Spanish dance troupes have flounced in and out of Villages and towns, playing to capacity crowds every time.
Prominent among those is Jaleo, whose members are five hot flamenco artistes from southern Spain whose pulsating rhythms have raised the temperature of Glasgow's Tron Theatre twice before. Now they're back to seduce Glasgow a third time with a new programme drumming up primal passion through dance, song, guitar and, of course, hand-clapping. Why do we like it so much? Maybe it's just cold up north. (Ellie Carr)
30 May—12 Jun 1997 THE LIST 65