Review: Rambert - Ghost Dances, Norwich Theatre Royal

Rambert are presenting Christopher Bruce's iconic Ghost Dances as part of their latest tour. Photo:

Rambert are presenting Christopher Bruce's iconic Ghost Dances as part of their latest tour. Photo: Anthony Crickmay - Credit: Anthony Crickmay

Review: Eve Stebbing is thrilled by the lyrical and powerful latest appearance of the celebrated Rambert Dance Company to Norwich Theatre Royal

The arrival of Rambert is always a hotly-awaited moment in the Norfolk arts calendar. The pioneering company has been breaking new ground in contemporary dance for more than 50 years.

The big news this year is the revival of Ghost Dances. First performed in 1981, the terrifying tour-de-force highlights the humanitarian atrocities committed under Pinochet's South American Junta.

Given that Margaret Thatcher used to invite the Chilean dictator to tea, it is no surprise that choreographer Christopher Bruce was inspired to protest. His work confronts us with the true horror of oppression. Performers dressed in death's heads and striped with war paint stalk the stage casting their cold breath over village celebrations. As one reveller after another falls to these ghostly predators, pan pipe and guitar music float to us on the wind. Folk hero and protest singer, Victor Jara, is evoked in the score and Rambert Orchestra is on fine form in the pit. This famous piece of choreography is a timely reminder of the power that dance's visual and direct language can wield.

It is not however, this well-known piece that opens the night. Aletta Collins choreographs The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses as the curtain opener. Inspired by a short animation by Zbigniew Rybczynski called Tango, her characters inhabit a world in which time overlaps and every moment builds in a seemingly random way to make a life. A brief, hilarious quotation of the film, quickly leads on to a lengthy tango inspired ensemble dance, which is as lyrical as it is stylish.

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Symbiosis by Andonis Foniadakis presents us with a clean palette. The silver lined accuracy of its geometric backdrop is echoed by the clarity and flow of movement. At times frenetic, the dance is an agile expression of the endless patterns thrown up by city life. A deep hum alerts us to something primitive. The performers seem to tune into each other like birds in flight, or pulsing soundwaves inside a speaker.

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