Note to Self: Rambert2
Review: Eye Candy/Rouge by Rambert. Live performance, streamed until 18 September. Book here.
[Disclosure: Rambert provided me with free access to the preview for this show for the purposes of this review.]
Note to Self is contemporary dance troupe, Rambert2’s, new show, performed and streamed live through Rambert’s Home Studio platform.
Rambert2 is Rambert’s younger sibling – a dance troupe, put together by an extraordinarily competitive audition process, which is designed to find and nurture contemporary dance’s future stars.
The audition process for Rambert2.
Rambert is always on the cutting edge of contemporary dance in the UK and this production, Note to Self, is no exception.
While this is the official trailer for Note to Self, it really is nothing like the actual show. So if you don't like this trailer, it doesn't mean you won't like the show!
As the title implies, Note to Self, choreographed by artistic director Benoit Swann Pouffer, is a journey into the self – exploring themes including nostalgia, joy, fear, anxiety, depression, loneliness, psychosis…
Swann Pouffer always pushes creative expression to the limits – he never plays it safe, sometimes this risk pays off spectacularly and sometimes less so. While Note to Self is not perfect, I think it is largely successful.
Note to Self is made up of a series of dance vignettes, which are beautifully brought together by actor Karlina Grace-Paseda, who appears in every scene and brings unity to the piece. It is brave of Swann-Pouffer to feature a non-dancer as the star of a contemporary dance show and it works well – Grace-Paseda is extraordinarily graceful, and carries herself with a quiet dignity. The age difference between Grace-Paseda and the dancers of Rambert2 adds an indefinable beauty to the show and gives many of the pieces an extra dimension, particularly those focussed on nostalgia.
All throughout lockdown, Rambert has provided us with beautiful, affordable and live cutting-edge content, streamed via its home studio platform. Rambert is to be commended for rising to this overwhelming challenge and coming up with something special and new. I hope Rambert continues with these online shows as they bring contemporary dance to those who for many reasons, cannot go to a live, in real life show.
It is testament to the technical staff that each time I see one of these shows – it's hard to believe that it is live. The technical aspect of the show is utterly seamless – it looks like is has been painstakingly edited in post-production. In the show, the camera operator becomes a dancer, as they choose what the viewer sees as they move amongst the dancers.
This gives the audience an experience and a view that is not available in a live, in real life, show. Very occasionally, the camera frame choice was annoying – the camera zoomed in, when I wanted to see a wide shot of all the dancers. This didn’t happen more than a few times, so it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the show.
Note to Self contains moments of sheer brilliance and beauty – the Tempest scene – where strange islands/boats move across a dark, stormy sea with the dancers as both inhabitants and visitors along with a red queen – was visually stunning. The flesh-coloured scene, with the dancers lined up, reminiscent of the many-armed Hindu god Durga. Another scene where the dancers danced in the dark, only visible with the pulse of the strobe lighting. All heart-poundingly riveting.
I felt that the scenes that were less successful were so purely because they laboured the point – the opening scene and those that conjured nostalgia started to feel long – I got the point and felt I had exhausted it long before the next scene started.
The young dancers that Rambert2 has uncovered are truly the stars of the future. While every single one them was a joy to watch, I noticed some serious star quality in dancers Archie White, Judy Luo and Emma Spinosi. I can’t wait to see what these extraordinarily talented young dancers bring to the genre in the future.
Whenever a group of talented people push the boat out to the very edge – there is always risk. In Note to Self, this risk had largely paid off.
If you enjoyed this review, you're welcome to read my other reviews of recent Rambert shows. Here's my review of Eye Candy and Rouge and the extraordinary Rooms . You can read all my posts on contemporary dance here including my article on Pro Wrestling as Contemporary Dance!