As part of their Labyrinth of Love tour, The Rambert dance company bring a selection of 3 pieces from their repertoire to audiences at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham. Set to both familiar and reinvented scores, Labyrinth of Love, Roses and SUB are connected by a theme of relationships; the romantic relationships of historical females, the nature of being an adult couple in society and finally, one’s relationship with, and discovery of, the ability of their body.

Labyrinth of Love, the first piece in the trio, is a narration of the romances of women from a period of history spanning 2,000 years, choreographed by Marguerite Donlon. From Sappho to Elizabeth Taylor, the emotions of these females are portrayed through a unique combination of voice and dance.

Exemplifying productive juxtapositions, the lives of the women are further expressed through the projected images of swaying fields of barley, in which the dancers appear to be entwined with nature, and later through the cargo chests by which the male ensemble indicate their profession. Though the power of the dancers’ movement has far greater impact than the images behind them, the use of multimedia fits seamlessly with the piece. The costume is neutral and geometric in nature, and rather than distract from the many other visual elements, it again renders another contrast between the linearity and fluidity of life, and romance.

However, it is the mesmerizing voice of soprano Kirsty Hopkins which adds a whole other dimension to the dynamic, physical storytelling, through her performances of a selection of literary works relating to the women of whose romance she tells. The relationship between the two mediums at times creates moments of arresting beauty and at others of crushing despair and sadness, namely in ‘Liz’s Lament’, as the soprano consoles a deserted woman, whose woeful tale she narrates. Hopkin’s voice is perfectly complemented by Michael Daugherty’s varied score, which in its versatility, shifts the tale of romance from Britain to Mexico, and other corners of the globe, through the introduction of brass, and even another human voice. This score is superbly played by a talented orchestra, led by Paul Hoskins.

SUB 3 (c) Chris Nash re-sized

Softer, and arguably more pastoral in nature, is Roses. First choreographed by Paul Taylor, and recreated by Malcolm Glanville, Roses takes a more mature look at romance and what it means to be a couple. An ensemble of five pairings present love in a manner rooted in the traditional, with motifs reminiscent of a ring – o – roses, or village dance around the maypole, set to Wagner’s ‘Siegfried Idyll’. Each couple in turn presents a different element of a relationship, the pairing of Lucia Barbadillo and Otis-Cameron Carr is particularly striking, their facial expressions demonstrating a real understanding between both the lovers they represent and the dancers themselves. The introduction of a sixth couple, dressed in pure white as opposed to the black and grey of their counterparts, is followed by an emphatic demonstration of their awareness of how they fit into the others surrounding them.

A refreshing contrast to the previous two sections, SUB, choreographed by Itzik Galili is danced by a purely male ensemble who have the ability to deliver power and grace in the same movement. To the rhythm of Michael Gordon’s ‘Weather One’, the seven males explore the body, from tendons to the blood that allows them to function, in an illustration of one’s occasional desire to express emotion solely through movement. In turn, each of the dancers appear to give themselves to their physical instinct, whilst the remainder of the ensemble carry the momentum of the piece; whilst the individual holds the spotlight, the others remain in the shadows. There is a sense of rejected uniformity, a quality which is further suggested by the fact that each dancer is clothed only in a folded felt coat, from the waist down. A pacy, striking final section ends abruptly in a moment of apparent realisation.

Labyrinth of Love 3b (c) Chris Nash

Although evidently different in style and content, the three sections are linked by their recognition of the trials, but also ecstasy, of relationships. The technical brilliant and visually mesmerizing work of the dancers, combined with the flawless musical performances of Kirsty Hopkins and the orchestra, will no doubt continue to enchant audience members for the remainder of the run.

Lauren Wilson

Rambert’s The Labyrinth of Love Tour runs at Theatre Royal until the 8th March. For ticket information go to http://www.trch.co.uk/index.aspx?articleid=14727

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