Setting out for an evening of new choreography by emerging talents is reminiscent of a prospector searching for gold: his hope exceeds the likelihood. Last night produced two seams of gold, quite different from one another, but both remarkable, if not brilliant.

Rift by Simone Damberg Würtz was danced to a spoken text in Danish – by the choreographer. Paradoxically, this piece without music was one of the most musical, using the spoken word, silence and the internal rhythms of the dancers' movements. It was also impeccably performed by Daniel Davidson and Edit Domosziai. The light coloured tunics over white trousers brought to mind the iconic costume of Jean- Louis Barrault in the 1945 film 'Les enfants du Paradis'. Würtz's dance is said to be about rifts created by guilt in body, soul, time and place. 

RIFT by Simone Damberg Würtz © Tony Nandi
RIFT by Simone Damberg Würtz
© Tony Nandi
The two dancers were beautifully matched and produced complementary and integrated designs to strong visual effect. The timing had the precision of mime, and the isolation of movement comic connotations in the midst of pathos. The dancers performed both in silence and against the spoken word in a counterpoint, their long bodies able to epitomize grace and, a fall from grace. Amidst all this is a sophisticated and elegant choreographer.

The second seam of gold was Dane Hurst's O'dabo (which means 'until I return again'  in Yoruba) inspired by Nelson Mandela (and his experience of solitary confinement) . Hurst himself dances the piece, a creation of huge emotional power and virtuoso technique. With his muscular, rounded body, he produced one of the most stunning openings to a dance sequence that I have ever seen. Like early man, he arose from the desert floor, shook the sand from his loins and discovered light. Throwing a blanket around his shoulders, he moved like a primordial flow out of his circle of light and into the world. I was reminded of the sculptures of Rodin with their density, their mass. As he moved from his upstage right diagonally to downstage left, he tracked a pattern of footsteps in the sand across the stage, which was a way of extending his existence and establishing man as a maker. At one point he stood facing us, his feet stomping rhythmically, his hands trembling: in fear? in expectation?. Dane Hurst is a marvelous dancer, and his leaps into freedom were unhesitating and high, but he will have to keep an eye on the integrity of the whole, never to sacrifice it to the moment. This is only potentially an issue because he is so gifted a technician, as well as choreographer.

There were three other works in the evening. Unspoken Dialect by Luke Ahmet, danced by Adam Blyde and Carolyn Bolton, was a duet about the ongoing dialogue we have with ourselves. The dancers performed different movements at the same time, the same movements together, and set different rhythms against one another. They drew on a vocabulary of contemporary movements one associates with Rambert. The composition had a symmetry, and the music a sameness, which produced a sense of quiet excavation. The dancers were strong technically, and the workmanship of the whole was effective. I felt the ending was not quite right though; and that it should have involved the two of them together.

O'dabo, choreographed and performed by Dane Hurst © Tony Nandi
O'dabo, choreographed and performed by Dane Hurst
© Tony Nandi
No.1 Convergence, choreographed by Patricia Okenwa, featured six dancers. The dancers rose and fell to the floor, using the pull of gravity and the weight of the body. Feet were unpointed and extensions not fully realised. They could be a wriggling mass, or they could lie on the floor and torque their hips. Using six dancers offers an opportunity for strong compositional direction. Dance can be sensitive kinesthetically, as well as visually. I found both qualities lacking here, but I was glad to see a different range of movement explored.

Related by Pierre Tappon, danced by Liam Francis, Antonia Hewitt and Stephen Wright was meant to describe a relationship between three protagonists. The entrance of the second male dancer in a black shirt, with his beautiful solo, formed the highlight for me. I wanted to see more of his dancing and more of that choreography. There was a minimal set which seemed to separate the dancers and block the stage space, so that it was more difficult to bring the dancers together meaningfully.

This was overall an evening of unexpected excitement and fine dancing. It is very important to develop new choreographers and to give them an opportunity to chisel their skills, as Rambert does with New Choreography evenings

****1