I have to admit here, right at the start of this review, that although I love classical ballet, contemporary dance theatre is a little bit out of my comfort zone. I was however intrigued to see how Rambert had interpreted some classic 1960s Rolling Stones songs in dance, and to me theatre is sometimes all about going to see that performance that is maybe just outside of what you would normally go to. That way, you get to experience some new directions and sometimes find some real surprises and new loves.
Rooster is actually a piece of work by choreographer Christopher Bruce that is being performed again by Rambert after an absence of 13 years. Rooster was actually the last of three performance pieces on stage tonight, but as it is the title piece of the show I will start with this and move backwards. I have no background in dance or choreography and make no attempt in this review to comment on the performances from that point of view. You need no formal background to recognise a sharp and well choreographed piece of dance work like this when it is presented on stage. The sheer physical abilities of trained dancers always amaze me. How they can make the very difficult look so easy is always a joy to watch. For me, the Rooster movements (a theme carried on a bit in other songs too) was a little bit too obvious a choice, but that "rooster strut and pose" has kept Mick Jagger on stage for a very long time and is as much part of Rolling Stones music as anything else. If I had a favourite from this part of the show it was probably the Lady Jane dance section.
Despite the title piece of the show being on all the advertising for tonight, the second performance of the night "The Castaways" by Barak Marshall was probably my favourite. Perhaps that is because it featured a lot of music from all over the world and a lot of dance elements from many cultures. Also, out of all the pieces performed tonight it was probably closer to performance theatre than the more stylised dance parts as it had a spoken narrative throughout it.
Terra Incognita by Shobana Jeyasingh was the first performance piece tonight and was the one that just did not work that well for me tonight. I just preferred the other two performances.
There are so many elements from the worlds of dance being used by the dancers on stage tonight and they somehow all blend and work together. The dancers obviously have enormous technical and physical abilities, but at times there seemed little emotion coming from them. Somehow, their joy of dance was not being shared with the audience at all times (well myself anyhow) but somehow being absorbed into the obviously very difficult technicalities of the dance performance itself.
As I said at the beginning of this review, contemporary dance is a relatively new experience for me and judging by the huge applause every performance section of tonight's show received from the audience, Rambert were certainly pleasing their audience tonight, and pretty much everyone in the audience tonight will have more experience with contemporary dance than I have, and they loved the show. Would I go and see a Rambert performance again? Yes is the answer to that. Rambert are simply using a different media to tell a story than I usually go and watch, and you should never be afraid to go to a theatre and watch a performance outside of your usual interests. That is after all part of the magic of theatre. It offers so many ways to tell a story, give you music, or a perfomance.
Review by Tom King