Acclaimed company Rosas brings back De Keersmaeker’s iconic piece Rain, a vibrant representation of a collective energy that generates an immersive experience through an all in one breathe, explosive dance.
Most of the choreographic principles that marked De Keersmaeker’s unique style, such as the geometric use of space, repetition, and mathematical structures, are taken to the next level in what is an absolutely charismatic and intriguing performance.
Music and movement go hand in hand in most of Rosas’s productions, deeply exploring the relationship between dance and music.
De Keersmaeker’s admiration for Steve Reich’s experimental compositions is confirmed once again with the use of Music for 18 Musicians, a minimalist score divinely played live by Ictus Ensemble. Pulsing notes and small moments of suspense imposed by breathe rhythms generate the perfect score to articulate tight dance sequences.
The stage is contoured by a wide semi circular curtain of fine strings. Ten dancers – 7 women and 3 men – sweeping by, running or walking in circles, and racing around the perimeter, disorientate the audience by giving the impression of a disorganised sequence.
At the beginning, successions of dance phrases are independently performed by individual dancers, while others swirl around them or stand watching on the perimeter, hardly ever leaving the stage.
Their clearly articulated gestures are subject to continuous and complex variations. Every interaction or body contact is avoided between dancers when cutting across the stage, combining and recombining in diagonals, entwining in a sort of imaginative texture.
But this is just an illusory chaos that draws from a simple principle consisting of one long female and one long male phrase that then develops into different and complex patterns.
Later, they gather in small groups to take over the stage for short collective phrases, executed with astounding synchronicity and coordination. Wide open arms extend and draw straight lines, like darts thrown in the air; everyone greets each other, when crossing by, running, jumping, or rolling on the floor.
This mesmerising patterning finds its culmination towards the end, when all dancers emerge from behind the curtain overwhelmed by a collective energy that binds them together, performing an exploding piece bustling with energy and joy.
As the connection between dancers intensifies, lights and costumes change their tone, ranging form skin colour and beige to pale pink and then magenta. A brilliant gimmick that, together with the dancer’s shadows constantly projected on the curtain, contributes to turn the whole thing into a truly fascinating experience.
Performed all in one breathe, this choreography is physically very demanding, most of the phrases are developed in the vertical axis, with lifting and dropping, falling and rising. It is a triumph of grand jeté and temps levé, executed with exceptional virtuosity and technique, conveying an overwhelming sense of joy.
Reviewed at Sadler’s Wells, 13 June 2017.