THE late Marie Rambert would only stage L’Après-midi d’un faune if there was a dancer in her company that she felt was up to the task.
Well, when a role has been made famous by Vaslav Nijinsky, you don’t let just anyone get their hands on it. Astutely, current Rambert artistic director, Mark Baldwin, chose Dane Hurst for the job, a dancer who compels the eye almost as much as Nijinsky must have done.
Watching Hurst move like a human statue, against the backdrop of a large stone platform, there was a definite sense of living history. Created in 1912, the piece was clearly ahead of its time, but given what the dancers in Rambert are capable of today, you couldn’t help feeling that they were a little underused by this classic of the ballet canon.
Happily, Baldwin put the entire company to good use with the world premiere of What Wild Ecstasy. Billed as a “contemporary response” to Nijinsky’s piece, the work was unexpected in every way.
Three giant insects dangled from the ceiling, dancers dressed in bright pinks and reds lit up the stage, and Baldwin’s quirky and off-beat choreography was matched every step of the way by Gavin Higgins’ score, created as part of the PRS Foundation’s New Music 20x12 programme.
Add to this Baldwin’s playful and charming Seven for a secret, never to be told and Tim Rushton’s utterly exquisite Monolith (undoubtedly one of Rambert’s finest moments) and you had an evening of dance as diverse and technically proficient as the company itself.