A performance in three parts, Ghost Dances is comprised of three different ballets, each one the work of a different choreographer: The days run away like wild horses, by Aletta Collins; The 3 Dancers, by Didy Veldman; and Christopher Bruce’s celebrated Ghost Dances, brilliantly resuscitated after sixteen years off stage. It’s a slightly off kilter trinity, and hard to detect a common theme, yet an abstract sense of physical balance and rhythmic harmony does weave its away across the entire performance: choreographically, each of the ballets perform an illusionistic image of weightlessness, exploiting the kind of contortionist, near-impossibilities that only the most skilled dancers can achieve with grace, flow, and breathtaking beauty. Yet, perhaps most importantly, each production works hard to address aforementioned balletic stereotypes. With a multi-ethnic cast, more representative than in most ballets seen on western stages today (this is still a problem that large ballet companies need to address) the music and narratives of these pieces have been borrowed from traditional, folkloric cultures around the world. Additionally - and notably - pink pointe shoes were entirely absent from the all of the performances, establishing an equality between the male and the female dancers, who performed potent versions of gender fluidity (in Collins’s piece, men dressed as women and vice versa) or androgyny (all of the male and female dancers wore identical, non-gendered costumes for Veldman’s dance).
Alongside the keenly anticipated revival of Ghost Dances, Rambert premiered a new piece - The days run away like wild horses – on 16 May 2017, created by choreographer Aletta Collins. This new work is a musing on mundanity, performing everyday routines, from shopping to sport to sex. All of the action takes place in a single, sparsely furnished room, bodies moving in and out, as their routines gradually begin to break down, like a needle stuck in a faulty record groove, repeating the same fragment incessantly, haltingly, without progression, but with fantastic, rhythmic distinction: Collins’s dance was an incredible example of the human body simulating the precise, programmed movements of automata. Eventually, the walls of the set fall away, and all of the dancers combine onto the stage, each dressed in an identical, long, purple dress, which works to collapse all kinds of difference, as the dancers move together irrespective of race, gender and age, suggesting a sense of inherent sameness (although it is left to the viewer to decide whether this expresses a glorious utopian ideal, or expounds a criticism of the mechanical routines performed under capitalist production).