December 20, 2019
In the two weeks leading up to Christmas, shoppers in Selfridges in London’s Oxford Street were treated to Rambert x Future Fantasy, a short performance that saw the dance company and store collaborate as part of the latter’s Christmas celebrations, which this year had the theme of ‘Future Fantasy’.
It was a magical fifteen minutes filled with Christmas joy. Choreographed by Rambert artistic director Benoit Swan Pouffer and starting on the top floor, the performance wound its way down the escalators, surprising shoppers, who stopped in wonder, on every level.
Each floor had a different theme, from old-school Fosse-like jazz duets to new-style vogueing on the lower floors, each coordinated beautifully with the surrounding visuals. The installation manner of Rambert x Future Fantasy made it appear as though the dancers were shop mannequins come to life in the intuitive, immersive choreography. Gareth Pugh’s startling snowy, icy white costumes, and the beautiful white umbrellas held by the performers, added to the scene.
One of the best moments came when the dancers descended to the fourth floor where we were suddenly treated to a number reminiscent of that iconic film, Singing in the Rain. There was a moment where I had the chance to stand directly in front of Larissa LongSee and Magnus Westwell, performing an ever so enthusiastic and articulated duet, all less than two metres away. They cleverly twisted around each other, incorporating lifts, a brave and bold choice in such a setting.
This was no ordinary Christmas show. There were other heady moments too as the eye was constantly drawn to the dance. The Selfridges department store surroundings melted into the background as I became totally immersed in the magic of the performance.
The cast of ten were brought together by Rambert for the project and included three members of last year’s Rambert 2 and one from the present main company. Others had previously auditioned and been kept in mind. Some such as Larissa LongSee (Australia), Nick Tredrea (New Zealand) and Joaquim Santana (Brazil) were a long way from home indeed. It is beautiful to see Rambert, indeed any company, embrace and use such diverse talent. It’s part of what keeps dance fresh and edgy, and something we cannot afford to lose.
While one can debate whether or not arts organisations of any description should be allying themselves quite so closely with commerce, it cannot be denied that events such as this provide opportunities for dancers and make quality dance accessible to audiences that may not otherwise see it. And let’s not forget the joy and the smiles Rambert x Future Fantasy brought to the faces of the thousands who witnessed it on the ten nights it was performed.