A mixed bag from the Rambert Dance Company as it ends its 2011 UK tour in Plymouth.
Opening with the eponymous Seven For A Secret, Never To Be Told, Mark Baldwin’s new piece seemingly split the audience with several not returning after the interval and others waxing lyrical.
Based on the age-old magpie nursery rhyme with input from Professor Nicola S Clayton FRS, Rambert’s Scientist in Residence (!), Seven is a series of vignettes showing moments in childhood – dolls’ tea parties, rough and tumble, sleeping and foot-stamping tantrums to name a few – danced to Stephen McNeff’s version of music from Ravel’s 1925 opera The Child and the Spells.
As ever Rambert’s dancers are superb in their bygone-days shorts and flowery print frocks, and their portrayal of children doing what children do, their stances and attitudes beautifully observed.
Michael Howell’s design and Joe Swift’s backdrop places the scene in a woodland clearing with the drapery swaying with the movement on stage to become all of a liquid piece.
Second up is British-born Danish Dance Theatre director Tim Rushton’s newly-created atmospheric Monolith danced to Peteris Vasks’ funereal score for strings and piano.
Celebrating those who erected the vast stones of worship in a sinuous, weaving and beautifully controlled piece on Charlotte Ostergaard's stark set and in plain brown simple tunics, this is stripped down and all about the dance with duos and trios engaging in long lunging encounters and short sharp jabs.
If Monolith extracts mixed reactions again however the final piece A Linha Curva is a perennial crowd-pleaser.
Set on a strikingly stark set where the blackness is seemingly denser towards the edges as exiting dancers fade into oblivion, Itzik Galili’s piece has all the fun of South American carnival showcasing solos, duos and trios with Miguel Altunaga and Mbulelo Ndabeni outstanding.
The impact of the human voice opening – repetition of a single unfathomable word – which evaporates into percussive rhythm is quite stunning.
With all wearing plain black T-shirts but with brightly coloured trunks, the stage is filled with some 25 dancers creating great atmosphere as each throw themselves into it, strutting their stuff in compelling joie de vive.