Rambert's latest world premiere, Goat, finds power in flipping expectations (4 stars)


Goat / credit: Hugo Glendinning

Abstract patterns, enigmatic meanings and glorious colour pulse through this triple bill from Rambert

Rambert's triple bill kicks off with a carnivalesque splash in Itzik Galili's A Linha Curva. To the Brazilian beats of live band Percossa, a meticulous sequence of drills is borne out on a chequerboard floor of shifting light patterns. Squares of colour pop to life, sending acid tones pouring onto the dancers' bodies, as they form swaggering lines: squatted legs, serpentine torsos, arms rotating. It's a heady mix of sharp precision and individual flair, while quieter sections break up the tempo, with packs of male dancers jostling in macho mode, or a solo female fending them off with balletic grace.

Andonis Foniadakis's Symbiosis takes the theme of patterns into different territory, balancing abstract motion with a warm, dramatic original score by Ilan Eshkeri. Busy clusters, projecting limbs and twisting lifts seem restless in their tempo. But the soft metallic colours of Tassos Sofroniou's costumes and Sakis Birbilis's moody lighting – sometimes glazing the stage in bronze pink, sometimes soaking it blood red – root these patterns in something more tactile and natural. When the dancers come into harmony, very occasionally, to create human temples of geometry for a single beat, there is a real feeling of catharsis. Overlooking all this is a backdrop of metal stripes warped into a circle at its centre, a kind of sun-God that looms over the dance, and sometimes gives us eerie glimpses of shadow dances taking place behind it.


Goat / credit: Hugo Glendinning
Ben Duke's Goat is enigmatically described as inspired by a village ritual from the choreographer's childhood, where things the villagers longed to forget were written down and tied to a goat. It starts in modish deadpan form. Dancer Miguel Altunaga leads us through the strange ritual of watching dance, commenting on the dancers' actions and their moods – 'I think they are feeling good' he says, after they have all melted, trance-like, to singer Nia Lynn's Nina Simone-inspired rendition of 'Feeling Good'.

Rituals emerge in all sorts of ways: in the channelling of another person's spirit through song (Simone's repertoire is reimagined throughout), in miming, repetition of phrases, and a centrepiece where dancer Liam Francis is chosen to collect the memories the cast want to forget – in the form of yellow post-its.

Most arresting about Goat are its flips in emotional tempo, its topsy-turvy world where things that should be serious – interviews with the dancers about the meaning behind their work – are preposterous, and things which should be preposterous – a man covered in yellow post-its dancing to death – take on a sincere and unexpected power. In an eloquent finale, Hannah Rudd resurrects Francis from where he lies on the ground to perform a duet that is knotty and difficult with all the problems and wonder of intimacy. They leave the stage and Altunaga takes Francis's place. What does it all mean? Does finding a meaning really matter?

As seen at Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Thu 26 Oct.

Rambert: Life is a Dream

New show from Olivier Award-winner Kim Brandstrup, featuring lyrical dancing from the world-class dance company alongside a live orchestra score by Witold Lutosławski.

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