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Rambert Dance Company - Awakenings (Plymouth)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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A fan of Rambert since the late 70s, I can’t believe that I am going to say I am disappointed by the Awakenings Tour.

Eagerly anticipating an uplifting evening of trademark inspiring, intriguing and innovative dance, I was initially mesmerised by the opening piece, the award-winning ”The Art of Touch”, choreographed by Siobhan Davies, which certainly has the Rambert stamp.

Intense and challenging, this is music incarnate as seven dancers ebb and flow with winding harmony punctuated by staccato solos.

Scarlatti’s 5 Keyboard Concertos juxtapositioned with Matteo Fargion’s especially commissioned Sette Canzoni is beautifully controlled.

Unfortunately the glare of the musician’s light intruded upon my view of the spellbinding intricacies ravelling and unravelling on David Buckland’s simple but dark, copper sheet-backed stage and, perhaps for that reason, for me the piece went on a shade too long and the harpsichord began to grate.

After a swift break came the strange “RainForest”: a Cunningham/Tudor/Warhol creation. Merce Cunningham’s choreography depicts scenes from the rainforest – posturing birds, athletic creatures and goodness knows what else.

With electronic ‘music’ by David Tudor being a combination of the sounds of the rainforest and what seems to be harsh man-made interruptions, the dance is again intense and intriguing but reminiscent of the first piece in pace, introspection and shape.

Andy Warhol had his way with the strange set of large silver oblong balloons, booted aside from time to time by the six graceful dancers, but fortunately was outvoted on costume as flesh-coloured bodysuits are worn instead of his preferred nothing.

The final piece is “Awakenings” itself.

Inspired by neurologist Oliver Sack’s book of sleeping sickness patients frozen mid-movement and awakened only by drugs whose latent side effects were manic movement and tics alleviated only by music, composer Tobias Picker and choreographer Aletta Collins have collaborated to create this intense and disturbing piece.

Occasionally uncomfortably amusing and with a beautiful pas de deux midstream, Awakenings is intense and intriguing …. and that is the problem with this triple bill: no contrast, no texture and a sense of sameness.

Stand alone or with disparate pieces to enjoy, each piece has great merit but all together they, in my view, lose their lustre and - I am so sorry - become tedious. And can someone please explain to me the difference between a silence and a pause?


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