Eye Candy and Rouge: Rambert’s Summer Livestream

Rambert Home Studios
July 17, 2021

Maggie Foyer

Eye Candy, is the cheap and potent slogan Imre and Marne van Opstal use to title their new work, a premiere and an exciting addition to the Rambert repertoire. The complex relationship between the eye and the I: what we present and what we are, has tormented humans probably since the beginning of time.

The talented Dutch siblings have thoughtfully dissected each detail. A harsh granite-like backdrop and black mirrored floor throw the pale semi-naked bodies into relief. A master stroke are the plastic moulded torsos, bulging muscles for the men and firm breasts for the women. They promote what is fashionably desirable, while acting as armour to prevent real intimacy: The authentic eye candy.

The relationships are unpredictable. In the opening scenes Aishwarya Raut is carried on stage and presented as a model, a pliable form, to be fashioned by many fingers as she stares blankly ahead. The actions are intrusive, full of curiosity and frighteningly void of human feeling.

Rambert in Eye Candy by Imre and Marne van Opstal
Photo: Camilla Greenwell

Sexual desire comes into play in disturbingly weird movements and gestures following the metallic pulse of Amos Ben-Tal’s percussive sound track. Guillaume Quéau breaks free of the pulsating mass to strike a macho pose before falling to his knees, his head on Simone Damberg Würtz’s lap. She strokes his hair tenderly but her voice intoning “I spy with my little eye” is that of an automaton. The mismatch is sinister and unnerving.

The choreography is vigorous and emotive seeming always to have a competitive edge, a nervous energy seeking an outlet. Raut starts to dance and is utterly compelling. But humour is never far behind as humans strut their stuff. Daniel Davidson and Juan Gil mince on high demi-point in a ballroom shuffle, then descend into deep plies scuttling sidesways like a pair of crabs with very mobile faces.

It is now Quéau who holds Damberg Würtz’s head to his chest and abruptly the emotion becomes violent, the grip becomes a vice and the passions masochistic. In the final moment, the power base turns as she tentatively climbs on his bowed back, balancing insecurely, another trick in this fake and uncertain world.

Rambert in Marion Motin’s Rouge
Photo: Camilla Greenwell

Rouge by Marion Motin first presented on stage in 2019 has found new life as a film, set in Rambert’s headquarters. It’s a powerful dance piece to Micka Luna’s compelling music that gained from the camera working within the group to give an immersive edge. The film opens in a deserted back alley where Adrian Utley plucks a hurricane of sound from his electric guitar. Dancers appear out of the fog, each a striking individual in eccentric dress but finding a unifying pulse to move to.

The neon lights flicker and couples size up and pair up as the dancing gets hotter. The colours change, costumes change but the dancers never miss a beat. Motin’s cleverly structured choreography is compelling, inviting and entertaining to the final neon flicker and out. The pairing of two such different pieces made an exceptionally good evening’s viewing. Well done, Benoit Swan Pouffer.