Friday, 18 November 2016

'The Creation' by Rambert at Sadler's Wells

In 1978 I first thought about seeing the Ballet Lambert - I can't remember what the production was but I'd seen Derek Jacobi in 'Hamlet' and wanted to see more things at the theatre but somehow didn't get tickets (I can't remember why). So, 38 years later I got tickets to see Rambert (it's dropped the 'ballet' word from it's title) at Sadler's Wells along with the Rambert Orchestra and the BBC Singers to dance the world into existence through Haydn's 'The Creation'. So, yes, I had high expectations and what better production to see than one using and interpreting Haydn's great music to dance the world into existence?

The orchestra sits on stage along with the BBC Singers behind a Gothic grille screen which allowed the soloists to stand and sing as their turns came. Rambert danced in front of the grille. This meant that half of the stage was lost to the dancers and, presumably, it was choreographed with that in mind. I thought it worked quite well but wonder how much grander it could have been with a larger space for the dancers to do their thing?

I've never heard 'The Creation' before and it was a joy to hear (I ought to listen to more Haydn). Haydn's grand music and the words telling the story of the seven days of creation from Chaos to Eden. God created heaven and earth, the waters and the land and caused the grass to grow.  I loved the line that 'God created the great whales' - of course he did and mighty and beautiful they are! It was great to hear the soloists sing these lines backed by the orchestra and the Rambert dancers bringing it all to life.

So what about Rambert? They danced their socks off, great crowds of dancers flooding the stage and then vanishing to leave soloists to show off their steps. I loved the mass ensemble scenes with 18 or 24 dancers all doing their synchronised thing and moving round the stage pulling shapes and stretching their bodies in strange and exotic ways. They were wonderful, full of energy and grace. How do you do that?

My only criticism is the costumes. The strange onesies in grey or black with the odd frills across the torso and large daisies at the ankles. What's that about? I thought they were quite unflattering and ugly and hoped for a costume change at half time so was disappointed to see them come on in the same costumes. Please change this for your next production of this show.

Was it worth the wait of 38 years? O yes, I loved it all (other than the costumes), the athleticism and grace, the story-telling and the glory of Haydn's music. I will definitely watch out for more productions by Rambert!

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