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Three By Rambert DVD

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The Rambert Dance Company first made its name in the 1920s for its creative melding of tradition and innovation. That tenet has remained central to the company's ethos and Three by Rambert showcases its particular strengths to great effect in three highly contrasting ballets. Musically, we have three utterly different scores: Janacek’s searing Second String Quartet (subtitled "Intimate Letters", from which the ballet adapts its name), the moody, evocative songs of Bill Withers and, finally, a medley of folk songs from various climes. Though stylistically at odds, all three explore the twin themes of desire and loss. The other link is that, heard in isolation, none of these pieces seems remotely danceable. It’s a tribute both to the choreography (Robert North in the jazz ballet "Lonely Town" , the company's artistic director Christopher Bruce in the remaining two) and to the dancers themselves that the results are so stunningly effortless. Time and again, you’re struck not simply by the liquid perfection of both solo and ensemble work, but by the directness of the physical language, and the depth of emotions expressed. A brilliant showcase for one of the cultural treasures of our age. On the DVD: Three by Rambert has good sound and excellent picture, with the 16:9 format doing full justice to the different visuals encapsulated by the three ballets. The booklet is useful for basic information, though more analysis of the works would have been helpful for non-experts. Rather than 14 minutes of trailers for other titles, an introduction to the work of the company, and maybe to the ballets themselves, would have been more helpful and user-friendly.--Harriet Smith

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