Rambert: A Linha Curva plus other works, by Itzik Galili; The Lowry, September 28 2016.
The Rambert returns to Manchester with a winning combination: a triple bill, a premiere and a raucous audience. The evening opened with the premiere of Flight, choreographed by Malgorzata Dzierzon, herself a dancer with the Rambert between 2006 and 2013. It explores the themes of borders and migration, which has particular resonance in the current uncertain post-Brexit state. The set consists of four walls with images of stairs projected onto them, forming a moving quadrant for the centre of piece. Like a Penrose staircase, it is used to give the sense of endeavour yet ultimate futility: two dancers in opposite quadrants attempt to push the structure round but are increasingly resisted by additional dancers applying a reactive force from the other quadrants. With a very strong initial duet, it promised the solidity of a Rambert classic with the intense use of levels that we’ve come to expect of them, as well as some of the best contact partner work on the British dance scene. Yet it didn’t quite deliver – the group sections lacked togetherness, giving it an irritating feel that a small tweak would have immeasurably improved it. This will undoubtedly come as the company performs it more and truly settles into the piece.
Bars, barres, tent poles, egg timers, Ikea flat packs and frames. Choreographed by Alexander Whitley, Frames is a masterpiece. A playful examination of form, line, shadow and movement, the twelve dancers connect and are connected with metal rods, from which they construct transient shapes. Starting with a soloist dancing with one rod, it almost has the feel of a 1930s Astaire number, but continues to be steadfastly modern with features of breakdancing and patterns echoing Kathak. It manages to achieve what many contemporary choreographers do not: not taking itself too seriously. Dancers drop the rods to make it sound like a construction site; they pretend to be warming up in a ballet class with notable pouts. Whitley is definitely one to watch.
Itzik Galili’s A Linha Curva has recently been added to the GCSE Dance syllabus, meaning that the vast majority of the audience were schoolchildren waiting for this piece. They were not disappointed and let the company know; the auditorium erupted in whoops and descended into a riotous party atmosphere. A fitting end to a summer dominated by images of Rio and carnivals, it makes you feel as though you’re at a knees-up in a favela. Set to a percussion score, the dancers become loose and adopt salsa, samba and capoeira moves, alongside more traditional contemporary positions. Full of call and response, improvisation and battles, it tells stories of men all chasing the same woman (who’s not interested in any of them), groups of girls having a gossip, competition and sex appeal. It contains some of the best lifts and catches in the Rambert’s repertoire, including a dive roll from a height over other performers and dramatic catch around a neck. It is also humorous, with strong elements of Voguing, and a dancer ducking and jumping over a colleague undertaking the traditional showpiece of fouettés en tournant. No one could accuse this of being anything other than a brilliant introduction into the world of British contemporary dance, and you’d be hard pushed to find a more fun one.