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Sadler’s Wells

Sensual energy in a sub terrain cellar, to animal evolution, to a nightmare dystopian micro-society: Rambert presents an electric triple bill at Sadler’s Wells Theatre this season. The contrasting choreography of Ashley Page, Mark Baldwin and Barak Marshall allow for a truly invigorating evening of dance, combining thought provoking concepts with unabashed entertainment.

The bill opens with the excitingly physical ‘Subterrain’. Ashley Page’s choreography once again provides a plethora of energy, creativity and drama with five couples commanding the stage with an open physicality that inspires moments of both awe and awkwardness. The performance begins with a slow descent in to the sub terrain world, out of which emerges expressions of raw attraction, tension within relationships and the explosions evolving from the claustrophobic atmosphere. Hannah Rudd particularly excels with her thrilling power and complete control of every bodily manipulation. While the stage is frequently bursting with connecting and contrasting movements from all the dancers, one’s eye is consistently drawn back to the energy radiating from Rudd’s performance. Other highlights include Julia Gillespie’s intense physicality and Miguel Altunaga’s enthralling dominance of movement. Moments of intense busyness, confusing and blurring the eye, juxtaposes with much sought for moments of calm and stillness; quiet quickly disperses as a new energy explodes from the dancers. Lines and curves, harmony and discord,  passivity and dominance all collide to produce a truly exciting performance.

Mark Baldwin’s ‘The Comedy of Change’ asks more questions than it answers and perhaps this is the beauty of the piece. The opening scene of a stage covered in cocoons with slowly emerging dancers in black and white all in one suits is thought provoking and novel and allows the audience to ask their own questions about these evolving life forms. Animalistic images such as the lumbering movement of a giant tortoise are contrasted with the majestic jetés of developing life to create an interesting performance.

The evening finishes with a wonderful new work by the talented choreographer, Barak Marshall. ‘The Castaways’ cannot fail to entertain with its powerful combination of characters, music genres, styles of dance and acting. This is a nightmare, claustrophobic social atmosphere, stuck in a dystopian world where mean girls clash with dreamers and Latin lovers jar against innocent young couples. The chaos builds and builds until smoking balloons have exploded too many times and the cymbals have clashed more times than the characters can cope. Sound merges with sight to entertain even the least experience audience member, as well as breaking the time old cliché that dancers can move, oh they can certainly move in this piece, but cannot speak. Acting astounds in ‘The Castaways’ with impressive vocal performances from the Emcee and three highly engaging mean girls. Voice and dance create a narrative that doesn’t force a story but allows it to emerge out of the integrating genres and styles. Highlights include a vertical bed scene in which girls float towards the dreamer until reality has to be restored. Strong unison dances create intense excitement, the combination of the Yiddish Pop music and the Balkan folk sounds adding a dramatic energy. Humour lightens the threat of this hellish world, moments such as a murderous bride and a lectern made out of a girl’s legs, highlighting the contrast between the serious and the trivial.

Rambert provides an evening of excitement and energy and we are reminded that this is a company that reassuringly puts creativity above gymnastics and expression above order. ‘The Castaways’ opens its doors to all audiences and leaves them feeling that bit closer to understanding the complexities of human relationships.

  • Dance Theatre
  • By Rambert
  • Choreography by Ashley Page, Mark Baldwin and Barak Marshal
  • Sadler’s Wells
  • Until 26th October 2013
  • Time: 19:30
  • Lucy Ashe
  • 24th October 2013

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