LAST EDITED ON 25-09-00 AT 00:03 AM (GMT)
Company: Rambert Dance Company
What: 7DS (Seven Deadly Sins), Embrace Tiger and Return to Mountain, Ghost Dances
Where: Salford, Lowry
When: 20th September 2000
Quality mixed programme of older works plus a new piece from Diddy Veldman. Surprisingly the Veldman is a bit of a struggle, but Rambert programmes are never less than interesting/entertaining. The first night of their 2000/2001 season and pleased to say that the Lowry was packed out.
7DS (Seven Deadly Sins)
This was the premiere of 7DS and eagerly awaited by me having enjoyed, often muchly, Veldman's earlier work for Rambert and Carmen for Northern Ballet Theatre (NBT). It was a while in coming on and Christopher Norse (Rambert Executive Director) came out after an extended interval to explain that there had been technical problems but things should be sorted in a few minutes. One of 'those' sets a few of us thought - what on earth would it be like?
Seven Deadly Window Blinds would have perhaps been a more appropriate title.... The stage is totally surrounded by vertical blinds, and motorised ones at that. When it works, it is all quite slick with the blinds being drawn back at times for an entrance or exit, closed off, or open to show glimpses of movement behind. They could also do a neat Mexican wave trick. But the set had other interesting delights - a carpet of loose green flock featured centre stage which naturally got scattered when danced on and effectively had its own dynamic in the performance. Miriam Buether produced what were interesting and good designs though normally one is wary of sets that compete too much with the dancers.
On the choreographic side I have to say I felt bewildered, unconnected and unhappy. I'm a desperately 'Ordinary Jo' at times and if the plot (literal or otherwise) is there to be lost I'll loose it. Unfortunately I didn't just loose the plot I never even got to first base in what is more of an experimental and abstract piece than anything. As movement it seemed perplexingly unspecial and unstructured.
Nothing of the Deadly Sins themselves really came over to me - indeed I'm not sure what they are anyway. (For reference they are: Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger, Covetousness and Sloth). Veldman has produced some words about the piece which mainly describe her research of the subject and how she involved the dancers to help establish "fresh perspectives on these ancient themes".
Anybody looking for the more literal work of Kol Simcha or Carmen will be rather disappointed. Veldman has some more full length pieces coming up (for NBT again and also for Royal New Zealand Ballet) and it was almost as though she was determined to use the Rambert opportunity for something entirely different, which I suppose is as it should be. But it has not really come off this time. Earlier in the Year Veldman produced a short solo for herself ("B") at the Rambert Choreographic Workshop and I was much moved by it. So I guess I'll put my bewildered view down to one of those things where one enjoys a choreographers general body or work,... if not every piece.
As you'd expect the company now looks even more comfortable in Embrace Tiger and it makes for a good and arresting start to the evening. It wears its sixties origins and electronic score rather ell and is not at all dated (though being old I would say that perhaps!). Ghost Dances was naturally the most popular piece of the evening - somehow Bruce conveys messages without ever being patronising or down market. For more on these pieces see earlier reviews.
Does it work?
A typical Rambert programme of thinking dance, some of which will hit you square between the eyes with its marvelousness and some might just perhaps hit you. I don't think I've ever seen a Rambert programme that I would urge people not to go to and this is no different.