Rambert review – whirlwinds of wow


Sadler’s Wells, London
The company’s touring triple bill is a showcase of individual brilliance that testifies to the sure creative hand of artistic director Benoit Swan Pouffer

Thu 19 May 2022 11.23 BST

When artistic director Benoit Swan Pouffer arrived at Rambert in 2018, he wanted to create a company of unique dancers you couldn’t take your eyes off. On current evidence, he has succeeded. These performers are diverse in bodies and backgrounds, and each has their own wow factor. Like Aishwarya Raut, in one work so jarringly android-like you can just about see the zeroes and ones racing through her operating system; or the protean Jonathan Wade, a whirlwind of astonishing speed; or Musa Motha, an amputee who, with one leg and one crutch takes flight in a corkscrewing blur.

There are no duds in this triple bill, each work demanding something very different. Dutch brother and sister Imre and Marne van Opstal choreograph Eye Candy, an unsettling meditation on the fetishisation of the perfect human body. The dancers play robotic non-humans, dressed in nude suits with silicone breasts and six-packs. Their physical control is incredible, the facility to freeze any muscle at any moment; with their futile attempts at connection, it’s a pretty dystopian vision.

Serene equilibrium … Max Day, Guillaume Queau and Jonathan Wade of Rambert in Alonzo King’s Following the Subtle Current Upstream. Photograph: Camilla Greenwell

Their glitching AI movement couldn’t be more different from the long, liquid, organic phrases of Alonzo King’s Following the Subtle Current Upstream. It’s a rare chance to see San Francisco-based King’s work in the UK. His choreography – which looks like ballet that’s eaten up any other dance style that’s crossed its path – is technically exposing, and demands focus, flow and serene equilibrium. The effect is as hypnotic as watching ripples on water.

Not only can this troupe seriously dance, but they can deliver a line too. Ben Duke’s Cerberus is a very clever, very meta piece of comic dance theatre. It starts like an anxiety dream, a stage technician suddenly finding himself on stage giving a eulogy to a dancer. “But she’s just in the dressing room!” he says. Named after the dog that guards the underworld, it skates deftly over the confusions of mortality and grief, and there are some vivid solos. Duke’s talent is to be light and deep at the same time, out-there but unpretentious, amusing and surprisingly moving. Live music from drummer Romarna Campbell and divine-voiced mezzo-soprano Rebecca Leggett is a bonus. Pouffer’s judgment is spot on.












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