Rambert2 – Home and Killer Pig at Sadler’s Wells
We are informed that the dancers from the current cohort of Rambert2 (11 in total) were chosen from auditions numbering 650 hopefuls. It won’t come as any surprise therefore, that it is worth seeing this programme on the strength of the dancing alone. Described as early career dancers and young by definition, the sheer exuberance, commitment and power radiating from the stage is intoxicating.
First premiered in May this year, Micaela Taylor’s Home uses the entire company. Original music composition by SHOCKEY is a mixture of speech, techno, jazz and hip hop and the dance styles include hip hop, Gaga and ballet. Taylor’s vocabulary is varied and in some sections, riveting, particularly when the dancers move impeccably in unison. The central character is danced by Judy Luo and one assumes it is her home we are meant to appraise. Candice MacAllister’s set design is minimal but effective, as is Jessica Hung Han Yun’s lighting. From the start, one is given to question if Luo is in lockdown, replaying or imagining the comings and goings of the other people on stage all in her mind or if she actually has a constant flow of visitors. Whatever one concludes, its theme is ambiguously played out on stage. Some of the phrases are astonishingly well danced and overall, well structured, but if one has to ask oneself what is going on when the curtain comes down, it hasn’t entirely succeeded.
Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar’s Killer Pig has become a bit of a cult dance work. First performed by Carte Blanche in 2009 and premiered by Rambert2 in 2018, I had previously only seen a small section of it at a Sadler’s Wells Sampled evening, pre-pandemic, and thought it seemed interesting. Watching the show in full was a wholly different experience. Once again, it was thrilling to watch the dancers in an exhilarating display of physical stamina, a relentless, in-your-face, step-bashing experience. They look like a new species of human being, super flexible and slinky-hipped, a mixture of liquid and rubber. Music is by Ori Lichtik and it drives them on in unabated, repetitious fury. Whilst it’s easy to marvel at the extraordinary energy levels, the remarkable talents who each deliver individual strengths and commanding stage presences (Comfort Kondehson is particularly stunning) – long before it reaches the end, the scrutiny of the choreography and actual content becomes its inevitable downfall. There’s the stylised, rather mannered, multiple walks on demi-pointe, hands on hips, rear end stuck out. Rapid arm and head movements which at first seem incredible but after 45 minutes, you long for straight-jackets to be brought on stage. The odd chassé coupé jeté or entrechat quatre does not make great choreography. The thudding reiteration of the same steps and phrases becomes less Killer Pig, more over-killed pork. I’m willing to concede that my criticism may well be a generational thing. There were plenty of young audience members raving about it. However, the sense that the works on this programme were being carried by the excellence of the dancers and not by the creative team will stick with me. And finally, I was amazed to see that the costumes for the latter piece (flesh coloured leotards for the women, flesh coloured trunks for the men) required a team of 5 designers, no less. The mind boggles.