There are so many styles and subjects in Rambert’s programme that it is not only the dancers who need to keep on their toes. The opener is newcomer Melanie Teall’s L’Eveil, for six women. Built on a lexicon of moves taken from feminine poses – from sculptures to fashion shots – it is a slight though well-crafted piece, given emotional weight by cabaret songs, sung live by Melanie Marshall.
Karole Armitage’s Gran Partita is a courtly, balletic confection set to Mozart, for 11 dancers. On the surface it is artful and rarefied, the choreography playfully chasing the music’s tail. Underneath is some lightly subversive gender-play: men and women swapping roles in duets, little ménages à trois morphing into fours and fives. Plenty of physical wit, yet the sparks don’t fly.
Tap dance is not, as a rule, an instrument of torture. But in Christopher Bruce’s Swansong, in which a prisoner is interrogated by two guards, it is chillingly effective. The rhythm of their feet tracks the power play: a hammering accusation, weary denials, a sputter of fear. The guards mock their captive with light-hearted routines, force him into humiliating jollity, hint how readily their canes could become weapons. The dramatic scenario, combined with a direct, expressive modern dance style, gives Swansong real punch. A hit in 1987, this revival is timely – who had heard of “rendition” back then?
It is hard to tell what’s going on in Australian Garry Stewart’s Infinity, but it gets by on sheer energy and atmosphere. Mists hang low, red dust trickles from the ceiling. The dancers, in strange vertebral costumes, tumble and hurtle about, their limbs splayed and crooked. With its arcane rituals, underworld ambience and alien lifeforms, it is all very sci-fi/horror. That’s my kind of dance.