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Subject: "Rambert, Programme I, Sadler's Wells 29/11/99" Archived thread - Read only
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #380
Reading Topic #380

30-11-99, 04:48 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Lynette Click to send private message to Lynette Click to add this user to your buddy list  
"Rambert, Programme I, Sadler's Wells 29/11/99"
   Rambert present two mixed bills in their second week at Sadlerís, the first of which opened yesterday, and offered an interesting mix of choreographers - Cunningham, Tharp and Bruce himself. Merce Cunninghamís August Pace has been in the repertory from earlier this year, as has Tharpís Golden Section. Bruceís contribution was a revival of Ghost Dances, which hasnít been seen here for a few years now. Oddly, this performance wasnít as well attended as Rambertís Godís Plenty had been the previous week, despite the generally unfavourable reviews which that production had received. But that was one of many paradoxes to be pondered that evening.

Although by no means full, the auditorium was incredibly animated, with several hundred teenage schoolchildren present, courtesy of generous discounts from Rambert. They chattered, squawked and milled about like a flock of starlings. I found it hard to concentrate on August Pace, the opening item, mainly because there was so much conversation going on, and initially there was quite a bit of giggling. It certainly wasnít the most accessible piece on the programme; I think Cunningham needs real concentration to follow. The programme notes suggested that this was a cheerful piece, but I found it rather austere. The dancers looked initially a little tense and subdued and seemed to be concentrating very hard: as the performance continued the mood did lighten, and the sense of pleasure in pure movement came across more clearly.

The start of the second item inconsiderately interrupted a detailed comparison of navel piercings in the row behind me, somewhat to the occupantsí disappointment. Bruceís Ghost Dances begins in silence, or ought to. Attempts to quiet the persistent noises in the vicinity met with a response "But weíre only trying to eat". (I would much prefer to be reviewing the performance rather than the audience, given the chance. I would point out that this wasnít advertised as a schools performance.) Fortunately after this point the music increased in volume sufficiently to cover some of the noise, and even the more recalcitrant members of the audience were drawn in to the drama.

Ghost Dances has been seen on TV here a few times in a version by the Houston Ballet: itís an unusual experience to see on stage something previously seen on the box, and I was struck by how very dim the stage lighting seemed compared to the more vivid images in my memory, with the initial stirrings of the three masked dancers seemingly coming out of some primeval mud. Ghost Dances isnít a narrative as such, but does contain characters that the audience can identify with - couples and individuals who have their moment in the sunlight before death comes to claim them. Itís strongly drenched with Latin American flavour, and set to haunting Latin American music (which sadly sounded slightly on the thin side in performance).

Death in the shape of the three skull-masked dancers is conveyed with real force by Paul Liburd, Jan de Schynkel, and David Hughes. Matthew Hart went all out to wow the audience as the most light-hearted and fun loving of the victims and was rewarded by plenty of squeals as a result: it might have been entertaining, but his cuteness seemed rather jarring in context. It is a very powerful work, both full of hope and sinister at the same time. The dancing is beautifully fluid and very characteristically Bruce.

The final work was The Golden Section, an action-packed Tharp piece which seemed to pack an entire eveningís work for the dancers into 15 minutes, with so many entrances and exits it was like rush hour at Victoria. This featured on the bill on Rambertís last visit to Sadlerís in May: the dancers seem to be much more inside the work now, and ready to play around and have a little fun. Itís a work which gave the dancers an opportunity to be a little more crowd pleasing in their gyrations, which some of them took (Matthew Hart again). Lots of audience response to this one, though for some teenage girls this seemed result from seeing Paul Liburd clad only in gold pants rather than from a response to the dance itself.

This was an interesting programme, but it was quite a frustrating experience trying to concentrate on what was happening on the stage. Each piece received lots of screaming and stamping at the curtain, regardless of the amount of chatter that had taken place while it was going on: The Golden Section seemed to be this particular audienceís favourite.

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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Rambert, Programme I, Sadler's Wells 29/11/99 alison 01-12-99 1
     RE: Rambert, Programme I, Sadler's Wells 29/11/99 Stuart Sweeney 02-12-99 2
         RE: Matthew Hart alison 02-12-99 3

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01-12-99, 01:21 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail alison Click to send private message to alison Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
1. "RE: Rambert, Programme I, Sadler's Wells 29/11/99"
In response to message #0
   Thanks, Lynette, for even attempting to review the performance with so many distractions (as you know, I gave up any hopes of doing that a couple of minutes into August Pace, as the distraction from (different) giggling, chattering schoolgirls was too much). While I'm all for "access", I *do* think that having maybe as much as a quarter of the audience made up of schoolchildren is really too much for a public performance, and I will certainly try and avoid any other performances at the Wells where "limited" (unlimited?) numbers of places for school parties are advertised in future. (And possibly having large parties of young teenage girls at a programme where there is such a large amount of naked male flesh on display is asking for trouble anyway?)

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Stuart Sweeney

02-12-99, 10:36 AM (GMT)
Click to EMail Stuart%20Sweeney Click to send private message to Stuart%20Sweeney Click to add this user to your buddy list  
2. "RE: Rambert, Programme I, Sadler's Wells 29/11/99"
In response to message #1
   LAST EDITED ON 02-Dec-99 AT 10:45 AM (GMT)

I guess I was lucky in that, although I was at Sadler's for all 3 nights of the 'Ghost Dances' triple, I was inside only for the Tuesday and Wednesday, where the crowd noises were much less. One great relief was the absence of Monday's applause after each of the folk dances in the mega-fab GD, at the time when the Ghosts are 'taking' the dancers. On Monday, even on a monitor, I could see that this was diminishing the resonance of these sections more than somewhat. Although the wonderful tunes still worked their magic, I agree with Lynette's caveats. In my view the talented 'Jack of all trades' musicians in 'I Musica' did not get as much out of the music as 'Incantation' from the Rambert CD of the works. Given the tumultuous reception for the work every night, it will be around in the rep for a long time.

My impression is that the Company are dancing 'August Pace' and 'Golden Section' much better now after a year of relaxing into these two demanding works. Over the two nights the dancers who particularly caught my eye were, as always, the amazing Matthew Hart (very sad that he is leaving Rambert); Patti Hines who was worked very hard in 5 of the 6 pieces on Tuesday and Wednesday and used her outstanding technique and expressiveness to great effect throughout; and Raphael Bonachela also impressed by putting his own stamp on Cunningham's steps in August Pace and with fluent musicality in GD.

Good to see Rambert on such a roll. I understand that tickets are available still for the second triple starting tonight. I shall be there and I get a night off from the Amnesty stand!

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02-12-99, 01:16 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail alison Click to send private message to alison Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
3. "RE: Matthew Hart"
In response to message #2
   What a shame that Matthew's leaving. Do we know where he's going? Back to the Royal Ballet? Off to choreograph?

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