Rambert Dance – Curious Conscience – Rafael Bonachela
“Curious Conscience is Rafael Bonachela’s parting gift to the company after three years as associate choreographer. There’s also a reprise of Swamp, an ensemble piece created by Michael Clark almost 20 years ago to mark the 60th birthday of the company that gave him a berth at the start of his career. All three reap rewards from a company whose technical powers are riding a dazzling high.
The chief surprise is Bonachela’s choice of music. Until now the Spanish-born choreographer has allied his hyper-energetic style to thudding pop scores or grungy electronics, cultivating a sideline as Kylie’s dance-man on the back of it. But for this, his most ambitious piece for Rambert, he turns to the deeply English sensibility of Benjamin Britten and his Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, a setting of poems by Tennyson, Keats, Blake and co. This is an onerous undertaking, given the texts’ hallowed status and the authoritative account of tenor Peter Van Hulle and the London Musici. Yet Bonachela, rather than subdue his signature spiky moves to the poems’ shadowy grandeur, issues a visceral challenge to their various utterances on sleep, decay and death. It’s as if he refuses to believe them. As the music plaintively echoes Tennyson’s “dying, dying, dying”, the dancers step up the pace of their gymnastic encounters, the men grappling their partners into ever more extreme split-leg positions, denying the inevitable with a furious life force, flinging themselves at the sky.” Jenny Gilbert – The Independant
“It is an impressive and intellectually adventurous project, and Bonachela deploys his 18-strong cast with style. But this is a long way from his usual turf, and the relationship between dance and music is uncertain. While Britten’s Serenade is gently elegiac, Bonachela’s choreography hums with tension.
His dancers prowl the stage, their bodies galvanised, their limbs whipping from stillness to quivering hyperextension in a fraction of a second. It’s technically impressive, but only in brief solo passages for Cameron MacMillan and Amy Hollingsworth is there any of the music’s sense of things half-said, of the fugitive moment.” Luke Jennings – The Telegraph