EIF 2017: Rain, Edinburgh Playhouse, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Anne Teresa De Keersmaecker (choreographer), Steve Reich (composer), Jan Versweyveld (set and lighting design), Dries Van Noten (costume design)
Laura Bachman, Léa Dubois, Anika Edström Kawaji, Zoi Efstathiou, Yuika Hashimoto, Laura Maria Poletti, Soa Ratsifandrihana, José Paulo dos Santos, Robin Haghi, Luka Švajda, Thomas Vantuycom, Lav Crnčević
Running time

First staged in 2001, “Rain,” choreographed by Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker is now a signature work for Rosas, her contemporary dance company. It combines her passion for pure dance and the minimalistic score, “Music for 18 Musicians” by Steve Reich.

The inspiration came from the novella, “Rain” by Kirsty Gunn, a fictional coming-of-age memoir, as observed by Janey, a twelve-year-old girl on a lakeside holiday with her parents and Jim, her younger brother. During hot summer days, as the adults enjoy parties with friends, they are free to escape on their own, until a tragedy destroys her innocent, imaginative experience of childhood.

When the rain came it was like thread and needles, piercing the jellyish water with a trillion tiny pricks, the silver threads attaching water to sky. It was so warm.

The stage is surrounded by a high, semi-circular string curtain of “silver threads”, which shimmer in shifting shades of light, reflecting the ripples of rain on water. An ensemble of seven women are dressed in softly flowing chiffon skirts, blouses and dresses in colours of cream, ivory and almond; with bare feet, they run, leap and somersault with joyful freedom. Three men, (in crisply smart chinos and shirts as if about to play cricket), join them with with gay abandon, in a sequence of madly energetic games and races together.

The rhythmic, repetitive pace of the precisely choreographed movement is synchronised completely with the vibrant music. From the chopping, chomping marimbas to the sensual strings of the violin, the richly layered score develops through piano chords and woodwind notes, to flow like pattering rain. The structured, mathematical pattern of the music, with little change to the tempo throughout, represents the human breath, the beating, breathing pulse of life.

With exquisite lighting and quick changes of costumes from milk-white to blush rose pink and bright coral, there’s a real sense of summer sun in this dreamlike, exuberantly youthful world. With a series of repetitive steps, dancers occasionally glide gracefully backwards, then recover their balance, like a glancing moment of memory, where hazy images of the past unravel; the overall visual mood and reverberating sound, evokes a captivating sense of loss and love.

Inspired as it is by Kirsty Gunn’s novel, the poetic text is not integrated through voice or word to create a more poignant, lyrical undercurrent to the beauty of Keersmaeker's pure, abstract dance. However, without such a dramatic narrative, simply embrace the intense, hypnotic, emotive power of movement and music which melt and meld together in perfect harmony.

25 - 27 August 2017, @ 20.00
Ticket prices: £11 - £25