The odds of early-career dancers getting into Rambert2 are long: around 60/1 to be precise (650 dancers applied from all over the world and only eleven were selected). It’s clear to see that these are the crème de la crème given the tightness and fluidity of their performing skills but how I wish that they had been given a more diverse repertoire to show them off, rather than the unrelenting mechanical rhythms of this closely related pair of works; one appearing to feed directly into the other through their twin auditory assault. The soundscapes took ear-bashing to Olympian heights, at times seeming like the ill-matched mating calls of an energetic steam piston and an ailing aircon unit.

Rambert2 dancers in Micaela Taylor's Home
© Deborah Jaffe

Micaela Taylor’s Home started brightly and with promise. Isolated doorways, disconnected from any wall, seem to be in fashion as set design devices these days. Only last week Ballet Black employed such a device in The Waiting Game and it’s also the only piece of set in Mats Ek’s farewell present to Sylvie Guillem (Bye) and in Jason Kittelberger’s Left Behind, a duet for himself and partner, Natalia Osipova. The opening sequence of Taylor’s piece took another leaf out of the same book by cleverly integrating Jessica Hung Han Yun’s excellent lighting through the doorway of this Home. It wasn’t the only design since a matching pair of standard lamps was used with one standing in situ, as nature (and electricians) intended and the other hanging upside down.

It was a crowded house with all eleven dancers parading through it, with exaggerated lip synching to a recorded text of random statements (“A house is not a home” seemed an early snippet although it came without the rest of Hal David’s lyrics or, indeed, any of Burt Bacharach’s music). But, it did give me an early flavour of what I thought the work might convey although I was to be mistaken (or, at least, I think so)! I was certainly confused as to the choreographic intentions.

The jerky, gymnastic movement and posing linked to the dramatic text brought a catalogue of the work of Crystal Pite to mind and Home was in a very similar style to The Statement, Betroffenheit and Revisor but without anything like the same thematic slickness although the uniformity of movement amongst the ensemble was always impressive. At one point it appeared that the soundscape was tapping out Morse code and elsewhere it consisted of just laughter and heavy breathing. It was a dance work that was well paced at just 30 minutes but by the end it was difficult to have deduced a theme in a piece that fell somewhere between being either entertaining or challenging.

Rambert2 dancers in Sharon Eyal's Killer Pig
© Deborah Jaffe

Sharon Eyal’s Killer Pig was very firmly rooted in her own indisputable style. It was originally made in 2009 and exported to the Rambert2 dancers in 2018. It is an absorbing work but I struggle, at a distance in time, to distinguish this from her other choreography, which all seems much of a muchness. The reduced ensemble of eight, dressed in tight-fitting costumes that blend with the colour of their skins, were closely formed in a tight organic group, again moving in a relentless, repetitive groove of small rhythmic motions. Ori Lichtik’s music created a seemingly endless, catchy  rhythmic assault but it overlaid other sounds with the tweeting and booming of one sequence evoking in this listener the image of a canary avoiding the attentions of a pneumatic drill.

The dancers are all unknown to me now but I hope they will each become more familiar as their professional careers deservedly prosper once this important apprenticeship is complete. Three of them had just 30 minutes on the boards. With just an hour and fifteen on the clock altogether and a 9pm finish, there was perhaps scope here for a third work, preferably one that would have brought a welcome new dimension to this otherwise dogged and unabated pairing of industrial dances. 

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