Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

Mary Brennan

four stars

It would be easy, and crowd-pleasing for Rambert to dip into its repertoire of proven hits and tour an archive programme. The ecstatic reponse of the Edinburgh audience when this triple bill opened with Itzik Galili’s A Linha Curva (from 2009) - all bootylicious hip-sway, sinuous shoulder rolls, tribal stomps channelled into crisp formations - was a definite “welcome back!”. The music, played live, was a blast of steamy Brazil that made you want to shimmy, too.

But after the interval, the mood changed with newly commissioned work that is thought-provoking and responsive to the times we live in. The dancers brought a cool intelligence and driving dynamic to the shifting moods, isolations and interactions of Symbiosis (2017) that choreographer Andonis Foniadakis based on the ebb and flow of city life. Shapes matter here: not just individual body-lines but in the visual counterpoint between groups. It’s clever, complex but somehow - even with Ilan Eshken’s atmospheric music played live - it kept a distance from immersive humanity.

That whammy came, full force, with the premiere of Ben Duke’s Goat. Miguel Altunaga, microphone in hand, was the roving reporter doing vox pops that became video footage on a screen. We witness the aggressively physical scape-goating of a randomly chosen suspect - why? because that’s how society is just now. Meanwhile Nia Lynn is underpinning this action with Nina Simone numbers in the troubled key of life - again the live music is a visceral force that relays love, loss and bitter-sweet feelings. By the end, a body lies prone on-stage and a woman is bereft. When Altunaga becomes that victim, Duke’s provocation is clear: acts of terror could happen to anyone. Love it or hate it - and audiences will divide here - Goat is Rambert in bold future-forward mode.