In dance, when choreography and music really interdigitate—lock together tightly—the result can be genuinely magical. Unfortunately, like lazy documentary film makers, many choreographers would rather reach for a piece of music that provides a featureless backdrop to their work, providing a pulse and little else for the dancers.
But then, if Rain is anything to go by, not all choreographers have Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s ear for music. Her use of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians is both clever and subtle, her choreography using it as a springboard for the dancers’ movements, but rarely in an obvious way. She mines deep into the layers of Reich’s music, and finds seams rich with detail there. These details are used to bind her tightly structured choreography to the music in an extraordinarily successful way.
The incredible dancers of her Rosas dance company perform this physically exhausting piece almost playfully. Although punctuated with moments of group synchronicity, much of Rain involves the dancers collaborating in smaller groups in order to unfurl De Keersmaeker’s larger forms.
The only thing this production really needs is some live musicians. The poorly balanced recording of the Reich (whose providence is oddly unacknowledged in the programme), is further compromised by its inadequate reproduction in the frankly horrid Edinburgh Playhouse acoustic. The clarity that the Reich needs is just not there, which is a real problem given that it is at the heart of this work.
However, this is in many ways the highlight of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival dance programme, and certainly the perfect work to close it with.