The Rambert is renowned for pushing the barriers of contemporary dance and an evening at The Festival Theatre, culminating in Christopher Bruces’s Ghost Dances proved to be as thrilling and thought provoking as we’d hoped it would be.
The first performance of the evening, Tomorrow, is a deeply haunting piece based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The stage is separated into two by a beam of light with the plot being played out (slightly confusingly in reverse) on one side and ghostly white zombie-like dancers symbolising the witches on the other.
The contrast between the two sides is dramatic. On one side dancers clothed in black make minimal movements to act out the story-line, whilst the other side is a frenzy of hypnotic energy and maniacal twitching. Although some have argued that the split stage makes it difficult to take in the performance as a whole, we would argue that the juxtaposition only serves to enhance the drama of the piece.
The choreography of Frames sees dancers using metal poles to create geometrical shapes throughout the piece.
The industrial feel to this dance invites the audience to visualise the dancer’s world of work and the constantly changing metal structures create a bold foil for interaction between solid objects and the lithe and fluid movements of the dancers. Although the interaction with the shapes is visually compelling, the construction of the metal props can at times be slightly distracting.
Ghost Dances, a tribute to victims of political oppression, opens with three ghoulish figures performing a hauntingly rhythmic dance on a dimly lit stage to the sound of an ominous whistling wind.
As the figures of death fade the pleasure of ordinary lives is played out using a clever combination of indigenous dance movements and airy music encapsulated by the sound of the pan pipes. As the music fades the baleful wind begins again and the figures of death weave their macabre way between their victims as their fate is sealed. This is an intense and poignant dance which I suspect only improves with more viewing.