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A Linha Curva/Symbiosis/Goat review at Sadler’s Wells, London – ‘a masterpiece’

Rambert's production of Ben Duke's Goat at Sadler's Wells, London. Photo: Tristram Kenton Rambert's production of Ben Duke's Goat at Sadler's Wells, London. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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Rambert’s latest triple bill delivers on many fronts. The louche-limbed A Linha Curva is a riot of Brazilian-inspired carnival movement set to an infectious percussive rhythm; the slatted set of Symbiosis conjures images of film noir that is further encouraged by the sweeping, crawling music.

And then there is Goat. Ben Duke’s first commission for Rambert takes the dancers way out of their comfort zone and brings them back alive. Set in what looks like a school assembly hall/gymnasium with a small band on a dais it is narrated/compered by Miguel Altunaga who roams the stage interviewing individuals and relaying it via a live camera feed to a TV screen downstage.

Nia Lynn stands at a microphone and sings Nina Simone songs. It starts funny and gradually gets serious as layers are peeled away leaving raw, naked emotion. When Altunaga asks a sacrificial victim who must dance himself to death how long it will take he replies: “I don’t know. I’ve never done it before.”

A voodoo ritual reaches a pulsing, shrieking crescendo as the ensemble circle the victim in an allusion to The Rite of Spring. A girl sings My Way in an agonised, off-key rant as if possessed by Sid Vicious.

The scapegoat – or sin-eater – is covered in Post-it notes to absorb the sins of the others. Duke punctures not only the pretentiousness of contemporary dance concepts but also that of its commentators. Through Altunaga’s interrogation of grief-stricken relatives he exposes the merciless banality of the media. And yet he can also create a knotted, flesh-kneading duet of overwhelming love and despair. When Altunaga exchanges clothes with the victim there is a sense of redemption even in the darkest time.

I have never seen A Linha Curva danced better. Symbiosis may be a movie soundtrack in search of a movie but it is a useful addition to the repertoire. And Goat is a goddamn masterpiece.

Read The Stage’s interview with Ben Duke

Read The Stage’s review of Ben Duke’s Paradise Lost (Lies Unopened Beside Me)

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Two new works and an old favourite show Rambert’s dancers at the top of their game