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October 17, 2012 5:08 pm
On the wise principle of getting the worst over first, Rambert Dance began its autumn season at Sadler’s Wells with an eagerly depressing novelty. Labyrinth of Love is made by Marguerite Donlon as a commentary on seven poems by women, from Sappho to that well-known versifier Elizabeth Taylor, in all-too-vivacious settings by Michael Daugherty for soprano voice and orchestra, with white and fluttering costumes and a clever setting of film projections (grasses, a fire and tutti quanti) by Conor Murphy.
These are facts owed by a critic to his readers. And they are the sole advocacy I can offer for a work of raging archness, its dancers romping in an access of predictabilities, and a soprano (Kirsty Hopkins) moving about the stage, offering a vocal performance less than engaging. The staging bulges with gimcrack emotion and vapid activity, and is irredeemable.
Thereafter, fine things. Paul Taylor’s Roses is about love requited, beautifully and simply shown. The Siegfried Idyll is his music, and a touching clarinet adagio, and dance for six couples blossoms from the stage in entire happiness. Well done by its cast, it lacked only some greater clarity in dynamics. Then Richard Alston’s cunning Dutiful Ducks, using Charles Amirkhanian’s dada-esque words as score for what was originally a solo by the young Michael Clark. Dane Hurst does it seriously, acute in step and phrasing, if not effacing memories of Clark’s exquisite feet or that sense we had of watching the young Rimbaud dance.
And to close, Merce Cunningham’s bravura Sounddance – though beware the programme note. The dancers dance splendidly. Cunningham showers ideas over the stage, forms shapes of bodies, of energies, keeps everyone on the qui vive. The cast arrives, delights us with shapes and energies, leaves. Voilà tout! The score is an intriguing noise. The dancers – perhaps an ounce heavier in manner than the usual run of Cunningham artists – are kept tremendously busy in Cunningham’s dances and do very well. Vast bouquets to Pieter Symonds and Angela Towler.
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