Rambert – Ghost Dances plus other works Review

Lyric Theatre, The Lowry, Manchester – September 28th 2017.  Reviewed by Julie Noller

5*****

I knew before the nights performance that Rambert Ghost Dance choreographed by Christopher Bruce is quite possibly the most popular work in their history. One look around the waiting group of expectant young faces waiting to take up their seats, told me that there was more than one dance group/drama group in attendance. The actual performance would be split into three separate acts with two twenty minute intervals.

Transfigured Night is based upon a 19th century poem written by Richard Dehmel ‘Verklarte Nacht’ . During the interval I along with many people around me, asked Google for help on that poem; just to see how my interpretation was. We begin once the curtain rises in the pitch black, slowly the light increases almost as if the sun is rising. Slowly as our eyes become accomstomed to the light we see a group of dancers slowly swaying and gaining momentum like the trees of a forrest. Finally we see a figure on the ground dressed in orange, as she rises searching for her partner, it’s as if a conflict is occuring as they push and pull each other. Then finally after her begging he leaves, watching the main group of dancers swirling as if a group of starlings are putting on a spectacular show. Enter a younger girl dressed in yellow, perhaps in the spring of youth as oppossed to the summer nearing autumn of life. This dance reminded me of those young school gym classes, where the teacher would cry ‘freestyle, show me a story’ however this was far superior, it was strong and powerful. It was choreographed by Kim Brandstrup with music that calmed you yet reminded you of an old black and white silent movie, no words ere necessary. Finally youth drifts away back to reality and we see perhaps our older couple have reconciled and life goes on.

Symbiosis

Is strong and powerful, full of wow moments. It draws your eye, it’s confusing in a way that life is confusing. It moves with fast pace, and is brilliantly choreographed by Andronis Foniadakis. Curtain up reveals a plain bare and empty stage except for one large screen, it has an almost 3D effect bulge and is used to change direction, inflict even more pace and energy into the performance, with colour in an otherwise blank canvas. I don’t know if I’m looking at a busy street in a hectic city during a rain storm or watching a discovery channel documentary, could it be a seed growing in fast time. Could there be basic lifeforms developing and being interpreted before my eyes? The dancers are amazing with muscular movements showing how we each collide and move on yet with such grace. Of course as with any performance you can choose to try to interpret what you are watching; or you could just sit back and enjoy a great show, full of grace and emotion. Not to mention pure talent.

Ghost Dance

Well curtain up led to some gasps and the odd cry of ‘I’m going to have nightmares’ from the young ladies sat around us. We were confronted with three figures from The day of the dead celebrations. Ghost Dance takes its influence from latin America, where the living are encouraged to celebrate life and remember the dead as still living amongst them. The costumes are magnificent, showing those perfectly ripped bodies, make up and masks were amazing. The dance is pure celebration as dead and living collide and grief takes hold, theres suffering in human misery. It was wonderful to witness the whole stage utilised with grace and energy. Music arranged by Nicholas Mojsiejenko was haunting and yet upbeat, lifted by the soulful music of panpipes. I could’ve watched Ghost Dance where power of the inevitable clashes with the emotional energy of wanting to live for a whole hour, it took my breath away. No wonder it’s the most requested work from Ramberts back catalogue and has been hugely popular since first choreographed by Christoper Bruce in 1981.

Well to be honest all the performances took my breath away, I’m always in awe of skill, energy, power and the knowledge that those young ladies watching could be heading home to practice and one day be right up there on that stage taking the lead roles. Each performer should leave the stage knowing not only have they entertained but they have inspired not only those young ladies but equally this slightly older lady and her Sister. The appreciation of every member of the audience not to mention the enthusiasm of those young ladies was uplifting and the standing ovation was more than well deserved for three fantastic, emotive, heart moving performances.

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