By CHRISTOPHER WALKER
Ballet Rambert, South London’s wonderful contemporary dance company, has done it again.
Their latest triumphant triple bill is a joy to behold, writes Christopher Walker. And a must for all dance fans. Thoughtful, provocative, and entertaining, it showcases the company at its best, and demonstrates London’s claim to be the European dance capital.
Three very different pieces are presented. Alonzo King’s Following the Subtle Current Upstream, Ben Duke’s Cerberus, and Marne and Imre van Opstal’s Eye Candy.
And I can assure you there is never a dull moment. The most visually striking piece is Eye Candy. The eight performers are dressed in silicon body suits which exaggerate their physiques. This might seem a little unnecessary given the superhuman physiognomies of the eight wonderful dancers. Aishwarya Raut, Alex Soulliere, Antonello Sangirardi, Daniel Davidson, Dylan Tedaldi, Joseph Kudra, Max Day and Simone Damberg Würtzfer – each would be anyone’s dream date. But then that’s rather the point.
The exaggeration is to convey the core meaning of the piece. The way we all objectify those we desire, and see them as objects of fantasy. And Eye Candy points to the overwhelming influence pornography is having on our contemporary society. Every aspect of human desire is explored.
A woman is carried in like a lifeless sex doll and tossed between the men. Two dancers (Daniel Davidson and Dylan Tedaldi) square off against each other in a display of exaggerated masculinity.
The backdrop is plain and harsh as is Amos Ben-Tal’s music and Fabiana Piccioli’s lighting. It comes together to make the dancers seem like meat on a butcher’s slab. It’s a thought-provoking piece. As Rambert said: “Since David and Venus, we’ve put the human body on the highest pedestal, shaping and perpetuating an unattainable beauty standard.”
Cerberus by Ben Duke was a sharp gear change. It began with a wonderful send up of an Italian TV show with dancer Alex Soulliere demonstrating he can act as well as dance, playing a TV host in outsize glasses who translates Antonello Singiradi’s rambling Italian dialogue.
It’s a comical opening which disarms the audience, very much Duke’s intention. But then students of the classics will recall that Cerberus was the three-headed hound of Hades. Guarding the entrance to the afterlife.
Hold on to your seats. We soon realize that Antonello’s partner has recently died, and in a reworking of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth he sets out to bring her back from the Underworld. Defying death is the underlying theme, and Alex and Antonello struggle to prevent the march of dark-clad characters to the grave. Great drama.
There is also a spirited cameo by Musa Motha, demonstrating just what can be achieved dancing on one leg with a crutch. The third piece in the triple bill is Following the Subtle Current Upstream by the veteran African-American choreographer, Alonzo King.
It is a much older work that the other two pieces but ably demonstrates the versatility of the dance troupe – as indeed does the whole evening.
If I had one complaint it is in the ordering of the triple bill. In that King’s work, being the more subtle and gentler of the trio, would have benefitted from coming first. But boy are we lucky to have a company of the calibre of Ballet Rambert in London right now.
Like so many of the greatest London creatives, they have bounced back with a vengeance from Covid. Under the new leadership of the wonderfully-named Benoit Swan Pouf, their future looks exciting. For tickets, go to www.rambert.org.uk/ whats-on/dance/
Top Picture: Rambert dancers Dylan Dedaldi and Daniel Davidson in Imre van Opstal and Marne van Opstal’s Eye Candy Picture: Camilla Greenwell
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.