‘The Art of Touch’, ‘RainForest’, ‘A Linha Curva’. Rambert Dance Company

The recent triple bill from the Rambert Dance Company performing at Sadler’s Wells was certainly diverse. It spanned four decades of modern dance making with a mid career work from Siobhan Davies, The Art of Touch; a classic from Merce Cunningham, RainForest; and a show stopper, A Linha Curva, from Israeli choreographer Itzik Galili.

RainForest, which occupied the central position in the program, is over forty years old having had its first showing in 1968 in Buffalo, New York. Today it still looks like a ground breaking collaboration. Cunningham’s choreography was slow and considered and at the same time, with its sharp turns and twists and its flailing arm movements, it had a primeval feel to it. David Tudor’s score, which uses household objects as loud speakers (set up as an installation in the orchestra pit on this occasion), produced an assortment of electronic hums, whistles and jungle roars. Andy Warhol’s helium-filled silver pillows floated randomly across the stage space, their transit occasionally interrupted by the dancers’ movements. The Rambert company put its own stamp onto the performance, dancing I suspect in a more emotive or expressive manner than would have been the case if it had been performed by Cunningham’s own company. It was by far the most thought-provoking work on the program and was also the most visually and aurally seductive.

The Art of Touch, a choreographic look at the sense of touch made in 1995, opened the program and seemed mostly playful with movement that scurried along to the sounds of five keyboard sonatas by Scarlatti and a commissioned work for harpsichord from Matteo Fargion. A luscious set (by David Buckland) consisting of golden walls, which changed hue and occasionally darkened under Ian Beswick’s lighting, added a certain mystery to the work. Angela Towler and Miguel Altunaga were the stand out dancers especially in a slow, complex duet.

The closing work, A Linha Curva, had the audience screaming with excitement by the end. Created originally for a company in Brazil in 2005, it was filled with racy movement in which the dancers, clad in tight lycra shorts and revealing tops, pushed their pelves forward and wiggled their bottoms suggestively. This was done to lots of drums, other percussive sounds and shouts from the dancers. It was a perfect closing work and great fun but I’d much rather be watching the Rambert company dancing a work with more substance.

Michelle Potter, 1 June 2010