Theatre Review: Rambert Dance Company at The Place

The audience direct the dancers in this unusual and versatile dance troupe

The Robin Howard theatre at The Place is the setting for an evening of new work from the Rambert, London’s premier touring dance company lead by artistic director Mark Baldwin.

We are presented with five unique pieces, many of which are creative collaborations between dancers and musicians, and all clearly demonstrating the community ethic of the Rambert Dance Company.

The evening opens with the ingenious 07941 611 971: a work with no pre-existing choreographic content. The dancers arrive in the space each with a mobile phone and its number projected on scrolling screens. The audience is invited to call up the dancers and direct their movements with the help of a “dance wheel” (think of the spinner from Twister but with dance modes, directions and body parts).

This is collaborative, participatory performance at is most immediate, and should be celebrated for its bravery and generosity with the audience. A few really beautiful moments emerged and knowing that we were witnessing the birth of a hitherto unseen, original movement was quite thrilling.

What follows - Lines Written a Few Miles Below - puts the London underground and its commuter culture in the spotlight, with neat, tightly choreographed movements unfolding on the swaying, claustrophobic stage of the tube car carriage.

The closing piece, choreographed and danced by Jonathan Goddard and Gemma Nixon, was the most successful. Inspired by a Grimm’s fairy tale, Fitcher’s Bird gave me shivers from the off.

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Blending all the darkest moments of childhood nightmares this piece talks clearly and strikingly to its audience, and is visually haunting.

* The Rambert Dance Company performed at the Robin Howard Dance Theatre at The Place, Duke’s Road, WC1, on October 11-12. They will appear again at Sadler’s Wells from November 15-19.