Pleasant to report that Sadlerís was completely packed with a noisy and appreciate audience on the opening night of Rambertís second programme there: much busier than the first week. There were a fair number of dancers in the audience.
It was a very mixed experience though. The opening item, Didy Veldmanís 7DS was a real puzzle. She has produced some interesting work in the past, but this piece just didnít seem to know where it was going. An earnest programme note indicated that the movement is intended to reflect the seven deadly sins, but it was never that clear what we were seeing - they all looked equally joyless. If sin really was as dull as this, we would all have given it up long ago.
Bruceís Moonshine raised the spirits considerably. It was originally made for NDT3, the older dancers of Netherlands Dance Theatre. Itís set to early acoustic songs by Bob Dylan: as usual Bruce responds well to folk tunes. Here he produces wry and pensive little vignettes for his four protagonists, who appear out of the gloom clutching their cases and bags. They might be reviewing their lives so far, as they move through episodes of reflection, melancholy, exuberance and comedy.
Christopher Bruce returned to the stage to dance in this performance. The role isnít that technically taxing, itís more about presence and charisma. Bruce has forgotten nothing about stagecraft, of course: he doesnít strain for effect, but can make his points tellingly, with great economy, but force.
There was a guest appearance from Sheron Wray, who used to dance with Rambert a few years ago. It was a real pleasure to see her again : she lights up the stage with the force of her personality and sheer exuberance. Just to see her is a reminder of what fun dancing can be (a pleasant change from the first piece, where dancing seemed like another hard day at the office). Vincent Redmon and Hope Muir completed the cast and I particularly enjoyed their realisation of the House Carpenter ballad (Iím sure this has been given as a separate item at galas in the past).
The final item was a new commission from Javier de Frutos, The Celebrated Soubrette, for twelve dancers. The publicity hinted at inspiration in the form of Las Vegas, and the music is ĎLe Tombeau de Liberaceí. De Frutosís own work often involves nudity - but the Rambert dancers remained clothed, in a variety of little black sequinned numbers. Most of the women wore brief bikini-style tops, a couple wore trousers, and all very high heels. The men wore sequinned trousers and waistcoats. This sounds rather tacky, and I suppose in some ways it was, but it was also at times quite magical. The lighting, by Peter Mumford helped.
The work opened in silence, as a rather irritated Elizabeth Old tried to boss around anyone who came near her spotlight. She was the dominant force. There was a good deal of flouncing and preening, various messy encounters and some very jokey Tiller-Girl moments for the women. However, although it gave an impression of riotousness, it was still a very disciplined and controlled piece. The movement was a curious mixture - lots of come-hither rolling of the shoulders for both sexes, but also some surprisingly classical influences, in the way the arms were held. A very popular piece, and the dancers looked very at home in it.