Note to Self review – transfixing journey through a failing memory

For some dance companies during the pandemic, streamed shows were just a stopgap, but Rambert thinks differently. Artistic director Benoit Swan Pouffer clearly saw the opportunity in this new platform and continues to make livestreamed work, conceptualised for the camera.

Rambert2 is a collection of some of the world’s most impressive dance graduates, so it’s unexpected that this latest work, Note to Self, is about the concerns not of youth but of ageing. And while it does showcase the zinging talents of the young recruits very well, the centre of the film is an older woman, Eve, played by actor Karlina Grace-Paṣeda. We meet her sitting in her living room, surrounded by Post-its reminding her to water the plants. Her memory is failing.

What follows is a delve inside Eve’s head. It gets a bit Twin Peaks-y: red light-drenched; a dreamy, retro soundtrack; there’s warmth but an unnerving undercurrent. We see couples in clinches and Eve curious, perplexed: whose memories are these? Swan Pouffer’s choreography is charged and sensual, lush fluidity marked with jolts and pops like the sudden spikes of a heart monitor. The performers make intense connections with each other, and with the camera. It’s easy to drink in.

Eve loops through her thoughts and plunges into the past. In one scene she sits beatific with eyes closed, the dancers providing sumptuous sensation for us; in another she repeats her movements from the opening scene but on a blank stage, wrenched from context – which might well be how dementia feels. There’s satisfying attention to detail and dramaturgy (by Amy Baty) and surprises along the journey, which is anchored by Grace-Paṣeda, whose face is as transfixing as any dancing body.

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