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REVIEW - Rambert - A great showcase for both lovers of dance and anyone new to the art form


On Wednesday, we visited The Lowry, Salford to see Rambert Dance Company. Read what our reviewer, Karen Ryder had to say about their latest showcase...

Rambert Dance Company have been on my wish list for a while so tonight I was thrilled to be getting three performances for the price of one. The evening is divided into a trio of dances; Eye candy, Cerberus and Following The Subtle Current Upstream.  Each programme has its own choreographer and its own definitive style and story, ensuring not only is there something for everyone, but that the company of dancers are challenged and we see the full extent of their incredible repertoire.  Why have I been longing to see Rambert for so long? Because Rambert are a company that push boundaries, explore life through dance and tackle tricky and taboo subjects through a powerful and emotive art form.  They are renowned for their approach to storytelling, diversity and the igniting blend of different styles of dance.


The first of the three pieces Eye Candy explores the human body and what it may mean to inhabit one.  It can be a wonderful experience, full of love, joy and possibility.  But for others, it can be torture, cruelty, abuse and an impossible feat to manage.  The ever-increasing pressure of perfection looms at the heart of this challenging dance and questions the pedestal that it becomes harder and harder to achieve.  Choreographed by Imre Van Opstal and Marne Van Opstal, the piece opens with a single dancer lying strewn across the stage.  As others enter, we see them trying to mould one human into perfection, but each has a different view on what that should be, so every touch brings change.  Eye Candy reflects the worlds broken view of body image through broken, jerky and glitching movements throughout, creating awkward angles and refracted lines.  There is incredible partner work, with four couples turning their bodies inside out, balancing on their heads and redefining the human body in more ways than one.  There are powerful moments when the dancers come together against the backdrop of a grey rough wall, accompanied by percussion and dripping water.  The piece becomes primeval, instinctive, as the characters discover their bodies.  It is a conceptual piece and during the interval encouraged a lot of discussion and interpretation.  Amos Ben-Tal has scored abstract music to create atmosphere, encourage the senses and challenge the dancers.  This is a compelling dance confronting body image.  It is enhanced by the dancers wearing nude body suits, complete with drawn on muscles and breast moulds portraying the impression of a naked body as a canvas.



Cerberus, the second dance, is wonderfully choreographed by Ben Duke who has engaged dance, acting, music, song, comedy and tragedy into one short and impressive piece.  A collection of spoken word, voice recordings, live percussion, live strings and singing, recorded dance music and echoed poetry all combine to create an impressive and popular segment of Rambert's collection.  Cerberus is the Greek mythological guard dog at the gates of the underworld, preventing the dead from trying to leave or escape.  It explores mortality through contemporary dance, and uses humour to deliver the unspoken thoughts surrounding death, the afterlife and humanity.  The use of humour is an intrinsic tool used by Duke and is executed with brilliant darkness, such as the couture funeral scene which is interrupted by the arrival of a theatre technician who refuses to accept his friend has passed on and thinks this is some elaborate joke.  Breaking the fourth wall by speaking to the audience directly, albeit it in Italian, a translator is on hand to ensure that we understand the show isn’t real, his friend isn’t dead, and she’s just hanging out in the dressing room.  This segment is mortally funny but is also the heart of the story, highlighting how death is just as much about the living who are left behind and refuse to let go, than it is about those who have travelled to the underworld.  It is about acceptance.  The piece opens with a dancer travelling from one side of the stage to the other, attached to a rope, that may be symbolic of the umbilical chord as we are told that entering from one side of the stage means birth and exiting the at other side represents death.  This rope is a feature throughout and is cleverly executed in unique ways time and time again, such as when the ensemble are all attached to the rope at equal distances, travelling to their death, each using dance to represent how their journey ended.  One dancer is seen swimming across the stage, gulping for air as he is drowning.  Another highlight is the conveyor belt of dancers walking across the stage to the underworld, which speeds up, getting more and more frantic, with dancers breaking out of the line with incredible solos, all trying to avoid death.  There was so much going on in Cerberus that the excitement and energy became palpable.  The costumes were the perfect gothic match to the story and the inclusion of live musicians added an undeniable atmosphere.  As the piece ended, there was an audible gasp of emotion from the audience, which I don’t think any of us were expecting to feel after such humour.  I love being caught out so this was a powerful end to an incredible piece.



Lastly is Following The Subtle Current Upstream choreographed by Alonzo King.  King has created an interesting tale upon the thought that “Everything that exists in nature is seeking to return to its source.  The child runs to it parents and the river seeks the ocean.”  This bleeds into the notion that the human race is always searching for happiness, for the ultimate state of joy and euphoria and that we do everything possible to avoid pain and suffering in order to sustain and fulfil the goal of joy.  A mix of dance styles compose this finale performance, with lyrical featuring heavily.  However, it is juxtaposed against eclectic flashes of traditional ballet, African dance, and contemporary.  Following The Subtle Current Upstream focuses on featuring the tremendous and diverse talent of Rambert through solos, partner work and small group work.  Ensemble work is rare in this piece, so when it does come, its presence is felt with stunning beauty.  This piece is not afraid of stillness and it speaks volumes.  It is not afraid of silence, and some of the most powerful moments occur in these moments, where dancers move in perfect unison with no sound but their hearts, their breathing and the whisk of air as their bodies extend and perform.  They move as individuals, as one, in canon and with fluidity through rainstorms.  It is a tranquil piece that feels like it has its roots in nature, with costumes in earth tones.  King has created a beautiful piece showing how we can all return to our own joy and live the life we want.



My personal favourite tonight was Cerberus.  I enjoyed the unique storytelling, the blending of the different art forms and the quirky use of rope as an intrinsic member of the ensemble.  But please take genuine note when I say this is nothing to do with it being any better than the others. It is simply an insight into what makes me tick, (who would have thought it was humour surrounding death?!) and if anyone is able to ever figure out what that says about me then please feel free to let me know!

I am so glad I have finally been able to enjoy the brilliance that is Rambert Dance Company.  It was incredible to see these athletes create such different styles within one evening and I cannot wait for their Peaky Blinders dance tour next year.  Rambert have a strong following, with a standing ovation, numerous curtain calls and lots of screaming fans, and it is abundantly clear why.  I don’t think I have ever seen such gentle lifts and transitions between dancers, and such a showcase of dance in one evening. The three separate shows are not connected to each other, and with each approximating 25 minutes, it does not feel overwhelming either, so the perfect introduction to any newbies out there.  As the audience left the theatre, it was encouraging to hear the next generation of dancers full of adrenalin, enthusiasm and motivation.  As I left the building, one particular line has stayed with me, “When I grow up, all I want is for my arabesques to look like that!”  So - to all involved with Rambert - congratulations for inspiring and reinforcing the future of dance.    


Rambert - Dance is on at The Lowry until Friday 27th May.

Save up to £14 per ticket with our EXCLUSIVE £15 TICKET OFFER



*Rambert Dancers - Adél Bálint, Archie White, Dylan Tedaldi, Jacob O’Connell, Jonathan Wade, Joseph Kudra, Max Day, Naya Lovell, Aishwarya Raut, Alex Soulliere, Antonello Sangiradi, Caití Carpenter, Cali Hollister, Comfort Kondehson, Daniel Davidson, Seren Williams, Simone Damberg Würtz*


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