What does this show tell us about contemporary dance in 2013? That spoken words, voiceovers, autobiography and humour are in. That abstract dancing to nice music is out.
But the choice of words [ecstasy & death] says much more about the sexed-up direction ENB’s new helmswoman intends to take a company that has styled itself, ever since its association with Princess Diana, as “the people’s ballet”.
Ecstasy and Death is the first English National Ballet programme assembled by Tamara Rojo since she assumed the company’s artistic directorship last year, and it makes for compelling viewing.
Ratmansky, in other words, gives us mises en scène upon which to meditate, rather than a drama in which to lose ourselves. This will appeal to some audience members more than others, but then that’s true of most of his work. Unpredictability is all.
But the only masterpiece of the evening was Le jeune homme et la mort, with Nicolas Le Riche, superlative guest from the Paris Opéra, as the Young Man, and Tamara Rojo as the Woman who is Death.
As each scene unfolds, each dancer not only notes every detail of their part, but performs each nuance of MacMillan’s staggering, expressive choreography to the very best of their ability. Every scene comes to vivid life
Rojo has nailed her colours to the mast of sexy, exciting, challenging ballet, pledging to programme work from world-renowned choreographers who have been overlooked in this country until now... Continue Reading
- both successful and different, with choreography that is lyrically beautiful, if not expressionist, or particularly dramatic - and is well performed at every level throughout a fine cast. Continue Reading
In choreographic terms, Petit’s 1946 encounter between a man and a fatally beautiful siren veers close to dated and mannerism. But Le Riche powers through it to devastating existential and erotic effect.
But this [Riccardo Buscarini’s ‘Athletes’] shimmeringly atmospheric meditation on emotional closeness and distance knows exactly what it’s doing, and is rendered with impressively taut, tense control by the three dancers
In Etudes, Lander uses the structure of a ballet class, starting with barre work and building to a whizz-bang finish. The company power through it, with strong solo dancing.
Rojo has made it her mission to hold onto ENB’s traditions while moving firmly into the future. Two ballets from the Forties and one from 1991 isn’t exactly the future but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
Juliet (a light, bright Heather Ogden) is all recklessly fast footwork and wheeling jumps, running her nurse ragged, giddy in love. Romeo (faultlessly danced by Guillaume Côté) has a poet’s sensibility that registers in the airy drift of his arms and upper body.
Ratmansky is such a wonderful choreographer that this stylised approach is never less than lovely, and it reaps dividends in the insightful detail it finds.