S&H Dance review

Rambert Dance Company 75th Anniversary. Sadler's Wells, 12-23 June 2001 (PGW)

It is invigorating to be a part of the large, enthusiastic, young audiences for modern dance that take contemporary music in their stride. For the first of their two programmes to celebrate the venerable history of The Rambert Dance Company, a company which encompasses in its repertoire classics of the past to new, spectacular dance theatre, the front stalls were removed to make a promenade area, which further heightened the atmosphere.

Scelsi's Okanagon, played live again for the revival of Siobhan Davies' Sounding, was given more than 50 times in its first run from 1989 to 1991, during which it must have reached more pairs of ears than all the concert performances of music by Scelsi in the UK put together! Whilst some of the newer creations are danced to tape, there is a strong association with London Musici (director Paul Hoskins) which tours with the dancers.

The high spot for me in this season was Symphony of Psalms. With the thoroughly professional though actually amateur singers of the New London Chamber Choir, whose standard never ceases to amaze, we had as well-honed an account of Stravinsky's score as you could hope to hear, and I do not remember it ever sounding better than it did at Sadler's Wells. The choreography, by one of our top favourites, Jiri Kylian, [about DVDs   Histoire du Soldat   L'enfant et les sortileges & Peter and the Wolf ] is abstract but redolent of tender feelings. With its music derived from the Russian Orthodox Church the setting, with prayer chairs and hanging carpets, reinforced the expression through dance of suffering, regret and hope. Cheese had energetic disco type music which I enjoyed, but which I am not qualified to assess, and Rooster delighted the audience with its sequence of Rolling Stones songs. The recorded sound reproduction was distortion-free, so its volume never hurt.

In the other programme, the centre-piece was Glen Tetley's athletic Pierrot Lunaire played by Tamas Nagy with elegant gymnastic skills on and around a structure of scaffold bars. The music again was in the safe hands of London Musici & Linda Hirst, and it is a work which benefits from having been in the Rambert repertoire from 1967.

In each of these pieces the music was enhanced by its conjunction with dance, and that was nowhere more true than with Arvo Part's Fratres, which normally I find unlistenable! The Rambert Dance Company will be at Sadler's Wells again November 13-24.

Peter Grahame Woolf

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