‘Not touching is the worst!’: Rambert embrace a different kind of dance

Masking up and working in bubbles are part of the routine as the company rehearse a dark but hopeful new piece by Wim Vandekeybus

Arriving at Rambert’s smart HQ on London’s South Bank, I’m immediately led to the loading bay where a trestle table is set up with the accessories du jour: hand sanitiser, masks, disposable gloves, and an infrared thermometer to be aimed at any forehead coming through the door. It’s the performance that has started every day for Rambert’s company of dancers since they got back in the studio eight weeks ago.

Upstairs in the studio, things are familiar, but different. Before rehearsals could begin again, the whole company, including production and technical teams, were tested for Covid-19. Then the dancers were separated into bubbles of four, all working in different studios with video link-ups between them. In this unconventional set-up, the Belgian choreographer Wim Vandekeybus has created a new work, Draw from Within, premiering at the end of the month. Rather than taking place on stage, it will be performed in all the spaces of Rambert’s building, from the stairwells to the studios to the roof, and streamed live to the audience online, in a one-off, real-time show.

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