'Unspoken Dialect' by Luke Ahmet.  Photo © Tony Nandi

‘Unspoken Dialect’ by Luke Ahmet.
Photo © Tony Nandi

The Place, London, UK; December 17, 2014

Jessica Wilson

Right from its early days, encouraging choreographic potential has always been a fundamental element of Rambert’s work. The company has nurtured many generations of choreographers who have gone on to enjoy influential careers, including current Artistic Director Mark Baldwin, Christopher Bruce, Michael Clark and Rafael Bonachela, to name but a few.

Created and performed by Rambert’s dancers, this latest New Choreography evening at The Place was another step on that road: a programme of works by both experienced and new choreographers from within the company’s ranks, with interesting offerings from Luke Ahmet, Simone Damberg Würtz, Dane Hurst, Patricia Okenwa and Pierre Tappon, each of whom presented interesting works containing  something of significance for themselves.

Luke Ahmet’s fascination of an ongoing personal dialect, like an invisible figure, is of great interest to him and is completely portrayed through the movement vocabulary created for his dancers, Adam Blyde and Carolyn Bolton. “Unspoken Dialect” is Ahmet’s first choreography for Rambert and provides an insight into the human story in which we are all share similar pathways. He displays the muscular smoothness of his dancers through the strength in their movement. Ultimately two solos come together in a duet. As the movement becomes more elevated, we see the dancers’ unspoken dialogue become noise, with some moments of unison humanising the pair: “We are all human and our dialogues unite us” is the message. It was just the right length; any longer and the motif may have been overdone. What a pity, though, that such high level work was somehow tainted by Ahmet’s chewing gum when he took a bow at the evening’s close.

Simone Damberg Würtz's 'Rift'.  Photo © Tony Nandi

Simone Damberg Würtz’s ‘Rift’.
Photo © Tony Nandi

Despite the highly demanding and technical choreography Patricia Okenwa has presented in the past, “No.1 Convergence” did not convey the speed and sharpness which is associated with her. The piece aimed to highlight a particular source of power that fuels energies, movements and attitudes within an idealised society, yet the pyjama wearing ensemble was grounded and weighty, with a very different type of power conveyed. Despite this, the dancers were entirely committed to the movement and completely secure in their intentions.

Simone Damberg Würtz’s first piece for Rambert, “RIFT”, was staccato and strong, the dancers full-bodied. “RIFT” was sparked by an advert from her native Denmark that illustrated the fatal consequences of not wearing a seatbelt whilst driving. The guilt conveyed through the movement is undeniable, and in complete contrast to the theatrical displays seen elsewhere during the evening. The stark lighting was used to great effect in giving nowhere to hide, with the couple working in complete tandem, fuelled by each other’s raw emotions. The use of breath to initiate the movement throughout was almost frantic, with anxiety and poignancy emerging in equal measure. With deathly make up, dancers Daniel Davidson and Edit Domoszlai created immense internal struggles, and Würtz must be commended for not just displaying talent and endless extensions, but using that talent to the advantage of the concept of the piece, rather than utilising movement for the sake of aesthetics.“Related”, by Pierre Tappon, depicted a short story centring on three protagonists’ relationships, focusing on hands as the primary source of movement. Unfortunately that focus was unclear and any kind of narrative or relationship between the trio wasn’t easy to gauge. The odd stage set of an abstract archway and small makeshift seat was distracting in its irrelevance, and seemed to serve no purpose in enhancing the choreography or performance.

'O'dabo' by Dane Hurst.  Photo © Tony Nandi

‘O’dabo’ by Dane Hurst.
Photo © Tony Nandi

Dane Hurst, a noted award-winning dancer, here demonstrated plenty of choreographic ability too. His “O’dabo” – simply meaning ‘goodbye’ – was a touching nod towards the death of fellow South African, Nelson Mandela. A dust covered Hurst was a creature of solitude and pondering, his performance projecting inwards and giving way to moments of individual epiphany. The harrowing soundtrack highlighted the struggle and resilience of Mandela, through Hurst, as he writhed and shook, interspersed with moments of flighty lines and beautiful jumps. There is so much power in this small dancer who here made such a strong impact with his concentrated face and committed body. The deliberated movement enhanced by his muscular creativity. As he shook, the audience was reminded of a phoenix smoking and being reborn, and just how much Mandela’s legacy continues to live through the human spirit.

New choreography, and developing new choreographers, is essential to keep dance alive and fresh, testing and pushing existing boundaries and creating new ones. Top marks for Mark Baldwin and Rambert for this New Choreography evening, which provided an opportunity to see a new
generation of emerging choreographic talent.