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[personal profile] terriem
Last night, I stuck around at work to watch the Rambert Mixed Bill. (http://www.sadlerswells.com/whats-on/2014/Rambert). Mixed bills are tricky things - a bit like putting a set-list together, it's important to get the order right, so you avoid boring your audience or peaking too soon. For me, this one worked well, starting with a slow opener, followed by a popular, energetic piece, and ending with two more challenging and thought-provoking works. Not sure the rest of the audience agreed - there were a few more empty seats after the second interval.

I've been at Sadler's for nine months now and have found the experience of consistently watching some of the best of contemporary dance to be a bit like learning a new language. (Or ten.) My reactions to the four pieces last night mirrored some of how I've responded to works I've seen so far. The opener, Lucinda Childs' Four Elements was slow, thoughtful and a bit ponderous, causing my brain to switch off and slip into a kind of trance like state. This has happened a couple of times to me and I'm still not quite sure if this is a good reaction or not. It's certainly a good way help solve problems and sometimes come up with new ideas for lyrics.

The most popular part of the evening, and probably the reason a lot of the audience were there, was Christopher Bruce's Rooster, a 30 minute montage set to Rolling Stones songs. It's high energy, fun, well-danced, and with enough changing between scenes to hold the attention of the most ADD-afflicted. I found it quite literal, with some of the acting out of lyrics a bit mummer-esque, but the dancing and costuming was top notch. Not much more to say - it hasn't stayed with me in the way that other pieces have, but was pleasant at the time.

Richard Alston's Dutiful Ducks was short but interesting. It's a solo, set to a flat American voice intoning a tongue twister. It was the first piece that really engaged me - it had a sense of humour, it was quirky and it was doing something unusual with the medium. Plus, the soloist made great use of a large stage.

The final piece was the most exciting to me. A classic Merce Cunningham dance, with a David Tudor "soundscape", totally unlike anything I've heard in this context so far. Essentially, you could hear different noises at different positions in the theatre, with sets of dancers on stage moving to various parts of the sound. It put me in mind of an immersive performance and is perhaps one to go back and see again, each time sitting in different parts of the theatre. Unusual, to say the least, and makes me want to watch a lot more Cunningham.

Still working my way towards what I like in contemporary dance. The best experience so far was definitely the 3 and a half hour Pina Bausch work 1980 back in February, which in some ways combined all of the experiences outlined above. It was emotional, fun, unusual and had some slow repetitive moments that led me to a more zen like place. While it's probably impossible for every piece to capture that, it's the benchmark for me. Looking forward to seeing what other companies and shows evoke. (And then sharing that with you, my lovely readers.)
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May 2014

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