It all beings in silence. A dishevelled and disturbed young woman with pale face and painted legs jerks and twitches on a bare stage, accompanied only by a bar of neon light. Several similarly affected, white-clad dancers join her…and as the spare, sparse, computer music creeps in there are moments of harmonised choreography…jittery, frenzied and industrialised though it is.
On the other side of the light divide, figures in black appear making perfectly natural, normal, middle-management movements; walking, talking, kissing…and, in an act of board room brutality, murdering. It’s all starkly beautiful and utterly mesmerising…a tale to be unpicked.
My conclusion was that I watching two sides of an asylum. The inmates in white, shorn of their medication. Their warders in black, jockeying for authority. When the light wall rises, they merge and mimic each other. Ultimately, captors and captives are the same.
At the interval, I read the programme notes.
Lucy Guerin’s “Tomorrow” is in fact a re-telling of ‘Macbeth’, in reverse order. The dancers in white are the witches. The figures in black, the wrangling courtiers going about their evil deeds. And that’s the great thing about modern dance. It means whatever you see in it.
Rambert are on the road again…90 years after their conception…and present three thrilling pieces at Theatr Clwyd this week. It is a quite incredible evening.
“Hydrargyrum” is an archaic name for Mercury. So the ensemble become agitated beads of liquid metal. Choreographer Patricia Okenwa has her troupe rattling around like a Brownian Movement experiment…in which they create a kind of speeded up, time-lapsed, crowd scene. Composer Aleksandra Vrebalov introduces thunderous piano chords to calm down their uncontrolled energy and one by one the dancer peel off their hoodies and present floppy but graceful near-nakedness. Once more the transition is from brutality to beauty.
But there’s something else. Designer Jon Bausor has placed a huge mirror behind the dancers, compounding the confusion of movement. Slowly it tilts and rises up over the dancers. The first hint of this is when the orchestra in the pit eerily appears to rise above them. And then our perspective of the performers themselves gently evolves…the images flowing as mercury flows.
After such excitement, Christopher Bruce’s ‘Ghost Dances’ seems strangely orthodox these days. I mean, there are boys and girls dancing with each other to recognisable tunes! In 1981, of course, it was ground breaking. The South American sound track even made it into the charts. Now the dance of ‘The Day of The Dead’ is almost cosy and familiar…like visiting a family grave. The three ghosts are still chilling with their painted bodies, tattered locks and death masks. And the iconic shaking of their skulls still thills; whilst the dead’s interruption of the living’s celebrations is as upsetting as ever. It’s easy to understand the clamour for this revival at such a fearful time.
Last night, each piece was accompanied by a woman who was most imaginatively ‘signing’ the music for the hard of hearing…imitating the instruments; performing her own little hand dance and completing a memorable evening.
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