Rambert’s new artistic director Benoit Swan Pouffer has made a bold but dubious statement of intent with his initial programme, bringing in French commercial choreographer Marion Motin to create her first work for a contemporary company.
Rouge begins with loud licks from a barefoot electric guitarist dressed in a drab kimono and a large pretentious hat, surrounded by lashings of dry ice. Six dancers emerge looking like they’ve raided the racks at Sue Ryder: feather boa here, puffer jacket there, a Pat Butcher-style fur coat. There’s a lot of posturing and chucking of clothes around before the dancing gets going. Irony, unfortunately, isn’t in attendance.
Eventually, the dancers start jacking and jerking to a pounding beat, torqueing their torsos into fashionably concave shapes as strips of red neon light slide by. There’s a certain inescapable pleasure in this, but it feels superficial, like the choreographer is trying to sell you something rather than tell you something: a trade show for pants and beautiful bodies.
The other works on the bill are early pieces from two now-established names in contemporary dance. Wayne McGregor’s PreSentient, from 2002, displays all the boneless physicality that we now expect from the master of the crotch-ripping leg extension. The dancers do diligently edgy work, but the music – Steve Reich’s Triple Quartet – is an orgy of joyless double-stopping, dense to the point of stressful.
Meanwhile, Hofesh Shechter’s In Your Rooms movingly – and exhilaratingly – conveys unspeakable dread and existential burden with a welcome dash of humour.