Rambert Triple Bill
Wayne McGregor, Marion Motin and Hofesh Shechter
The Lowry, Salford
Rambert Triple Bill offers two blasts from the past and a new piece of work. The revival PreSentient, which opens the show, is a chilly, alienating dance. A sole dancer, barely visible in Lucy Carter’s subdued lighting, battles against the harsh sonic landscape of Steve Reich’s score. The music, initially, has an industrial and urban tone as if the metropolis is encroaching—noises reverberate around the stage, horns blare and a beat pulses underneath. As the lighting lifts and the remainder of the dozen dancers take the stage, the score becomes more natural and warmer with strings played live.
Wayne McGregor’s choreography remains the same regardless of the score: painfully precise with toes picking at the stage and startlingly rapid with legs kicking high dangerously close to partners. It is technically stunning but not easy to make an emotional connection. The abstract nature of the dance is emphasised by the troupe dressed identically in severe blue shifts like artificial people from a science fiction movie.
Choreographer Marion Motin, whose Rouge is the sole new dance on the bill, has a background in the music and fashion industries. Their influence is apparent in Rouge, parts of which are so broad as to raise the question of whether they are intended as parody. Yann Seabra dresses the troupe in extreme examples of ‘fashionable’ clothes, including a fur coat. The opening, involving the troupe swamped in clouds of dry ice from which they rise and constantly tumble back while a Gandalf-like guitarist grinds out power chords, feels like a joke that goes on too long. A sequence of the troupe chucking away their clothes may be intended as an encouragement to turn away from materialism.
Micka Luna’s score is rock-based and much of Motin’s choreography resembles a nightmarish disco with the dancers whirling and twisting rather than formal dance steps. Parts of the dance do, however, feel like cheating, particularly the use of pulsing strobe lighting to drive along the pace.
Hofesh Shechter’s skills include percussion and this is certainly apparent in the score he composes for In Your Rooms, the second revival on the bill. This is an intense, widely ambitious dance but also one that is tremendously exciting. Shechter’s voice-over speculates on the chaos of the cosmos and civil unrest. At one point he stops the show declaring he can do better only to shamefacedly admit he cannot.
Regular blackouts break the dance up into small scenes some of which are partial—we sometimes enter a sequence just as the cast are concluding. There is, therefore, a strong momentum, a feeling that things are happening of which we may not be aware, that keeps the dance fresh and vital. The effect of Lee Curran’s lighting illuminating specific parts of the stage is to create the impression of seeing several different mini-dances taking place at the same time.
Shechter’s score is dramatic—a drone of strings leading to a ponding percussive outburst. It sets an uneasy background for possible violence or unrest. Shechter’s choreography is all tension with no release; the troupe never gets the chance for cathartic high leaps or bounds but consistently hold tight squeezed poses. Shoulders are hunched and arms move in thrusting gestures like shadow boxing. There is a constant tone of violence waiting to break loose—raised fists punching the air is a repeated feature suggesting a political rally getting out of hand.
Rambert Triple Bill is something of a curate's egg as none of the components works to maximum effect but there is no denying the power of the closing sequence.
Reviewer: David Cunningham