The power of numbers 1: A Linha Curva, Itzik Galili

Yes, I know, I said that I’d have the post ready “tomorrow” and it’s been more than two months… I have to say in my defense that it’s been “almost finished” since then, but I always had something going on to leave it for another day… Anyway, here we go!

Let’s start by saying that towards the end of this piece during Rambert Dance Company’s triple bill, I could barely stay sitting (and so was the situation for lots of people around me). This work by Galili has all the ingredients to make it impossible for you to walk out feeling indifference (which is something that I’m missing quite a lot in contemporary dance lately).

What are some of these ingredients?
Music!! The rhythm of Percossa will make you dance even if you try really hard not to! And the movement, following this rhythm, is as contagious. This is also accentuated by the fact that the music is live, and that the percussion is also accompanied by vocals and clapping and all other sort of things, which give a party mood all the way through the work.
Lighting. Well, it is just genius, not only because of the way it is designed, and the colours, but also because it is dynamic, it changes with the dancers, it evolves. Probably the most striking lighting for dance shows is that in which the lights and the movement are choreographed together. (Think Russell Maliphant and Michael Hull, specially Afterlight).
Meaning. Well, there is not much on this piece wherever you look, apart from people talking about it being “sexi” and “streetwise”. I believe I read somewhere that it did have something to do with sexuality, and in a way with how it is seen (or challenged) from the group. But I might be making this up too… Memory doesn’t really cooperate with me this days! 😉

And on to the bit that  is more important to us (in a way…), the movement!
And how is the movement? Well, it is loose, very technical but looking effortless and almost careless. It is in unison most of the time and very rhythmical. It is also interesting movement! (What a surprise!) Movement that could be used in a solo and that it is made much more effective and impressive because of the number of dancers.

I’m going to show two videos of this today, one by Rambert Dance Company, and one by the Ballet of the City of Sao Paulo. Both great in this work, but I do believe that the video shows Rambert a bit tighter in the unison work.

So having a look at the video of  Ballet of the City of Sao Paulo.

Things that I can see here:
The soloist “against” the group, a feature used a lot , for example, in Pina Bausch’s work. We can see it here at 1:25 and see how it works wonderful to give sense and strength to both parts.
From 1:35 we can see a series of changes in which the lines move along the stage with the light changing to make them disappear and appear again in another spot. The movement is just a repeating sequence that the two different lines do at different moments (or two shorter sequences that they alternate, if you like), so nothing really fancy, but the effect is great. Then, from 2:07, they move on to a different direction too, so that we end with a cross, and a soloist in the middle. This moment is intricate and beautiful, and then develops adding another line and another soloist.
At 3:40 there is another moment of great choreography, a contrast of speed, where the big group is moving slowly, and the back line is moving fast. It is not only a very clever way of combining movement, it is original in that it reverses the usual way of drawing attention to those in front.
And at 6:20, the great finale… with just one dancer moving in silence!! After all the busy work, this ending is just bliss! So clever…

About the Rambert video then…

0:46, the dancer making a square all around the stage is a clever way of making them relate to each other (also by being in unison) without looking at each other or being directly linked in formation or gaze. Also, the simplicity of the movement allows the viewer to  enjoy the shape more and produces a sort of soothing effect very becoming to the piece.
0:51 impressive hey? Who knew clapping and walking could have such an impact! Again this 0:56 and it’s brought to another level by the very very cool movement in 1:00.
And to finish, at 1:04 we get a glimpse of the strong power of number (especially when as together as Rambert’s are here).

I’m going to finish giving you a bit of a review by Judith Mackrell on this very smae piece on Rambert (from the 14th May 2009)

“But with a cast of 24 – made to look even bigger by the intensity of the lighting, the ramped-up percussion of the live band, and the tightly driven patterns of the choreography – the impact of the piece becomes irresistible”.

Completely agree! And it is irresistible for me to, once again, reference to the lovely girls of The Ballet Bag, in this case to Linda, the ballet physicist! ;), who once said that “in ballet as in nature, one really needs to gather mass to generate huge amounts of energy!”