REVIEW: Rambert Dance Company ‘Ghost Dances’

REVIEW: Rambert Dance Company ‘Ghost Dances’

The Rambert Dance Company put on a spectacular show at The Mayflower Theatre.

Rambert present Christopher Bruce's GHOST DANCES. Set design by Christopher Bruce, costume design by Belinda Scarlett and lighting design by Nick Chelton. Photograph © Jane Hobson.

Rambert Dance Company is known as the oldest dance company in Britain. However, the company stays relevant by creating new routines and keeping the older ones up to date. This made it an honour to be able to watch them perform at The Mayflower Theatre in Southampton.

The performance is split into three dances: Transfigured Night, Ghost Dances and A Linha Curva. Each performance contrast with each other to form a well-rounded evening.

Rambert Dance Company consists of just 22 dancers
Rambert Dance Company consists of just 22 dancers

Transfigured Night, choreographed by Kim Brandstrup, is based loosely on the poem ‘Verklarte Nacht’ which tells the story of a woman telling her lover she’s pregnant by another man. The performances display three outcomes of the woman’s honesty. The first movement shows fearful anticipation of rejection and abandonment. The second is an idolised dream sequence of acceptance, and a childish hope that all can be forgotten and forgiven. The final section shows neither the worst nor the best outcome; the couple are apprehensive and uncertain but they battle through, compromise and stay together.

This opening dance was beautiful and highly expressive. The music was played by strings, and it was low and emotive, complementing the dance. The style of dance used was ballet, and its use of stillness and repetition created a smooth, dramatic and emotional performance that was wonderful to witness.

Ghost Dances was choreographed by Christopher Bruce 30 years ago and in those years nothing has changed about the performance. Bruce still helps teach it to new dancers at Rambert. It is based around the idea of the Mexican Day of the Dead festival. The Ghost Dancers help the dead villagers over to the other side peacefully.

he choreography for Ghost Dances hasn't changed in 30 years
The choreography for Ghost Dances has not changed in 30 years

The styles of dance in Ghost Dances are very tribal and playful, mixed with country and jazz. The music is South American folk played on pan pipes and ukuleles. It transports the audience into a new world where the dead are roaming with the living. The performance was fun to watch and although the characters were dead, the dance was full of life.

Finally, the dance of A Linha Curva, choreographed by Itzik Galili, is known as Rambert’s party piece. Unlike the other two dances, A Linha Curva doesn’t have a story line underneath. It is an energy-fuelled, sexy, colourful samba routine, with both humour and passion. The performance is enough to keep you smiling from beginning to end.

Sceptical about seeing a dance show? It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but this is not one to miss!