Rambert2’s mixed bill combines sharp choreography and unstoppable energy
Like international dance companies Batsheva and Nederlands Dance Theater, the UK’s Rambertlast year launched its own younger, edgier group, Rambert2. It’s built from dancers at the start of their career, and if their first mixed bill is an indication of their style to come, they’ve harnessed all the energy and sharpness that comes with young artists hungry to perform.
There’s a thread of continuity that runs through all three pieces; all are lit with the same black and butter palette of spotlights, picking up the shadowy shapes of bodies, as if on some 2am street, or club or narcotic trip, and all simmer with the same sense of power kept just in check, that could erupt at any moment.
Artistic Director Benoit Swan Pouffer’s Grey Matter kicks off the program. Raw, solemn and strange, the ensemble comes together as a tribe, echoing each other’s moves, falling into patterns and wriggling out of them. At the heart of the group, one dancer separates herself, tearing at her body, flinching, caught in her own personal journey. Mid-way through, GAIKA’s pummelling electro-score washes into a serene riff of bips, and a duet, slow as zero-gravity, unfurls in petal limbs and graceful holds.
Rafael Bonachela’s duet E2 7SD is equally magnetic but with a different tone. The shapes Conor Kerrigan and Aishwarya Raut create are clean, geometric, full of narrow crisscrossing angles, but the speed with which their arms lash and slice at one another belies unsettling violence – is it menace or passion? The soundscape of interloping voices, taken from two dancers’ diaries, gives the sense of being tossed around, half-hearing, and almost understanding.
Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar’s Killer Pig also has a disorienting way of swimming in and out of recognition. Eyal’s style feels influenced by her time with Batsheva, and in the same way as Batsheva’s gaga dance style, borrows familiar gestures – sashaying, posturing shoulder thrusts, kitsch dance pulses – but transports them into strange contexts. It’s this that breathes life into Killer Pig. Her clutch of dancers in nude bodysuits becomes one organ, then splits apart, each dancer with a mind of their own. At one point they join hands slowly and echo revelers painted onto an ancient Greek vase or Egyptian scroll. Eyal’s work may feel abstract but there is always something deeply human and deeply fascinating about it.