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Rambert Triple Bill:A Linha Curva, Ghost Dances and Goat, 16 Nov 2017 Alhambra
One of the most memorable shows that I attended in 2017 was Rambert's triple bill at the Alhambra which I saw on Friday 16 Nov. The company presented three works:
Three very different works and it seemed to me that all had a loose connection with Latin America.
My favourite work of the evening was A Linha Curva. I had seen it at The Lowry the year before (see Red Hot Rambert 1 Oct 2016). I loved it then:
"Rambert's party piece on Thursday was A Linha Curva. The stage consisted of percussionists in a box above the dancers. The work began with chants by male dancers in gigantic, reflective metallic collars which was answered by calls and screeches from the women. The stage exploded into a carnival of movement fuelled by the relentless beat of the musicians. The effect was quite hypnotic and the performers' vitality and vivacity were infectious."I loved it even more the second time round for its colour and energy. I loved the chanting, the screeching and the rhythm. Such a contrast to the other two works which, while beautiful, were much more sobering.
Christopher Bruce created Ghost Dances in 1981 when Leopoldo Galtieri held power in Argentina and Augusto Pinochet. Both used death squads to remove political opponents. Spooks who visited opponents in the middle of the night and spirited their victims away. The faceless skeletons moving to panpipes could easily represent them at one level. At another level, they could represent the spirits of the dead in the belief systems of the Andean tribes that had been transposed only imperfectly into the religion of the Conquistadors. At either level it was a very disturbing work reminding audiences of their mortality and vulnerability. But at the same time it was also eerily beautiful with elegant jumps. I should like to see it again - but not in a hurry.
The last work was also disturbing. The "goat" in this piece had two legs not four. The human goat was chosen for much the same purpose as a scapegoat. Duke explained in the programme notes:
“In the village where I was brought up there was a tradition on New Year’s Eve of writing on a piece of paper two things you wanted to rid yourself of – it could be something bad that had happened to you, or something bad that you had done. The pieces of paper were placed inside a can which was tied to the tail of a goat. The goat was supposed to disappear over the horizon and take our sins with it. Usually it ran for five seconds or so then stopped to eat some grass. Some years it came running back towards us…”There was a lot going on in this work. A running commentary from one of the dancers and dialogue from others. Some dance, of course, and a lot of singing on stage. According to Ben Duke's YouTube clip, rehearsals started immediately after the London Bridge terror outrage. It is in thus a commentary on the role of art in the politics of the times.
Not exactly a laugh a minute but life is brief for all and insecure for many and it does no harm occasionally to be reminded of that.