Rambert Dance Company
- Claire Sawers
- 24 November 2016
Triple bill of old and new works gives Rambert dancers, and audiences, much to get their teeth into
Ghost Dances was created 35 years ago, and is considered one of the 'greatest hits' from Rambert Dance Company's back catalogue. Based on the violent 1973 coup under the Pinochet dictatorship, which killed 35,000 Chileans, it made Christopher Bruce's name as a politically aware choreographer, designing pieces with a social message.
It has three dancers at the centre; lithe, dreadlocked Skeletor figures with body paint, sliding and tiptoeing around, inspired by South American Indian death rituals, and attempts to dance away the power of the colonising white man. Bruce always said Ghost Dances had a universal message about cruelty and oppression, so maybe tonight's folk dance against the Andes could be Rambert's show of solidarity to the Standing Rock Sioux, using Chilean pan pipes and Day of the Dead celebrations to put a soft veil over the story of suffering.
The real centrepiece tonight though is Alexander Whitley's Frames, which looks like a Gap advert at first, with the dancers in preppy chinos and white shirts, but unfolds into something far more special, a frantic, flawless interlocking of limbs and machinery. Hinged metal poles are contorted into triangles, zig zags and ballet barres, with the dancers neatly bending around them in a blur of aerobics, capoeira and slippery floor work.
An amazing performance, with only torches and shadows as staging, it carries on the stark minimalism of Lucy Guerin's opening piece Tomorrow, where throbby, bare electronic sound design and jerky, mechanical choreography beautifully show off Rambert's more modern moves and pared back aesthetic.
Edinburgh Festival Theatre till Fri 25 Nov then touring nationally.