Rambert Dance Company Spring Tour 2006

Theatre Royal, Newcastle

A Steel Graden. Photo: Ram Shergill
Judgement of Paris. Photo: Anthony Crickmay
Divine Influence. Photot: Anthony Crickmay
Constant Speed. Photo: Anthony Crickmay

The repertoire for Rambert's spring tour consists of eight pieces, four of which are performed in each venue. Only one, Constant Speed, is performed at every venue. The four pieces for Newcastle were, in order, A Steel Garden, Judgment of Paris, Divine Influence, Constant Speed.

A Steel Garden
Choreographed by Christopher Bruce, with music by David C Heath. Bruce worked in collaboration with the dancers and the composer, starting with an existing piece of Heath's music (Dawn of a New Age), and the dance and the music evolved together.

The set is a "steel garden" of gongs and tubular bells, which are beaten by the dancers using sticks or sounded by them moving through the bells. The sound produced, by turns pleasant or discordant, integrate with Heath's music which is scored for percussion, saxophone and piano.

The style is typically Bruce. The end mirrors the beginning and there are recollections of motifs familiar from Ghost Dances, Swan Song and even Rooster. A Steel Garden is his first piece for the company since he retired as artistic director in 2002 and could almost be a summing up of his work. Some have criticised it for not breaking new ground but it is nonetheless a very satisfying piece, creating an atmosphere which mingles the natural (mirroring the movements of the garden animals) with the supernatural, in the form of a goddess figure.

Judgment of Paris
Choreography by Antony Tudor, restaged by Sally Martin, with music by Kurt Weill; originally produced in 1938.

A sleazy bar and three aging (and somewhat decrepit) prostitutes, a little unwillingly, try to attract the custom of the one patron, who is so drunk as to be almost incapable. Each dances for him, then totters back to her seat. In the end he passes out and they and the waiter rob him, with Venus getting the gold watch. The piece is danced to music from The Threepenny Opera, played by an on-stage pianist - a perfect accompaniment, given the sleazy atmosphere which is part of the appeal of much of Weill's work.

It's a little jewel of a piece, combining both pathos and comedy, and had the audience laughing from beginning to end.

Divine Influence
Choreographed by Martin Joyce to the Presto from Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.

A short piece for two dancers - Angela Towers and Joyce himself - which plays with the restraints that classical ballet places upon the artist and is based upon ballet technique exercises. Indeed there is a playfulness about the piece which certainly appealed to the audience.

Constant Speed
Choreographed by Mark Baldwin, with music by Franz Lehár.

Now here's an oddity: a dance piece inspired by physics. It was commissioned by the Institute of Physics to celebrate the Einstein Year in 2005 and is based on three of Einstein's theories: Brownian motion (which inspired the choreography), the photoelectric effect (which inspired the design and lighting) and the theory of special relativity, which gives the piece its name and inspired the dominant dynamic.

It moves very quickly: the dancers whiz around the stage in various combinations, with some of the movements being very athletic.It's witty (occasionally laugh out loud witty) and clever, and frequently the stage is full whirling colour as all nineteen dancers - for ti is choreographed for the whole company - twist and whirl in what occasionally seems to be random movement.

Apart from Bruce's piece, which does have some dark elements, this is very much a lighthearted programme, superbly performed (as one would expect) by the company.

At the Theatre Royal until 18th February, then touring to Snape Maltings, the Hall for Cornwall, Clwyd Theatr Cymru and the Theatre Royal, Brighton.The company returns to Sadler's Wells in May.

Reviewer: Peter Lathan

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