Review: New English Ballet Theatre
Brand new company New English Ballet Theatre (NEBT) showcases emerging dancers, choreographers, musicians and designers in a fusion of art forms where each element enhances the others. Whilst there is a wealth of talent on display, it is the young performers who take prime focus, as they develop their careers through NEBT’s opportunities to create new choreography as well as work with established artists. The company has no public funding and relies entirely on sponsorship and donations to meet its exciting aims. A glorious debut season at Sadler’s Wells’ Peacock Theatre shows just why such an innovative company is needed.
English National Ballet dancer Jenna Lee created Classical Symphony which opened the programme. With a smudgy, brightly-coloured background and equally vibrant costumes, including lime green tutus with dark pink undersides, the piece exploded with freshness and vitality. Playful choreography explored the sunny melodies of Prokofiev’s music, with a fun reinterpretation of some well-known tunes from his ballet Romeo and Juliet. Partner work was particularly zesty, with balletic shapes given an edge in off-balance spins and upside-down lifts. Lead performer Ryoko Yagyu was deserving of highest praise; a tiny Japanese dancer, she more than made up for her small stature with exuberance and stage presence. It was disappointing she didn’t star in any of the evening’s later works.
Michael Corder’s Legends was performed to a gorgeous piano score played live onstage by two enthusiastic musicians. The pas de deux’s technical demands were not always met by dancers Chiaki Korematsu and Ivan Delago del Rio, but after a shakey start they relaxed into their roles and were able to indulge in Corder’s lyrical movements.
A digital animation of a yellow grid showing peaks and troughs by Zachary Eastwood-Bloom formed the background projection for Threefold. George Williamson’s choreography explored the past, present and future of one female character, using three dancers simultaneously onstage to represent the different time frames. Battling against an abusive relationship, the women swirled their arms and extended their legs high to Francis Poulenc’s bold piano notes in this dramatic and engaging modern dance work.
In Lonesome Gun, choreographer Kristen McNally transforms her love of cowboys, deserts and all things Western into a creative choreographic sketch. Six of NEBT’s company members were lead by Royal Ballet artist Hayley Forskitt through unusual movements from hunched shoulders to putting out an imaginary cigarette, flexing feet and wiggling fingers. McNally’s choreography isn’t to everyone’s taste but it is always inventive and surprising.
Rebecca Wilson’s light-hearted Joy involved dungaree-clad dancers rolling on the floor and exclaiming with delight against a countryside backdrop. In Le Carnival de Vérités, Andrew McNicol explored the complex relationships within two couples using acrobatic and passionate pas de deux. Renowned choreographer Wayne Eagling made interesting bodily shapes to explore the moody, powerful and beautiful vocal music of Gustav Mahler in Resolution.
Royal Ballet dancer Samantha Raine portrayed a turbulent relationship in Sixes and Sevens. With an abstract background by Kevin Osmond and the delightful piano accompaniment composed by Ludovico Einaudi, dancers twisted around each other to carve out elegant poses. In a floaty lace dress, Eugenia Brezzi repeatedly ran away from and towards partner Ludovico di Ubaldo, evoking a powerful sense of uncertainty and passion in this appealing and dynamic ballet.
Ernst Meisner’s Bright Young Things gave twelve company members the chance to showcase technical ability and exuberance in a joyous party extravaganza. Ballroom holds, balletic lifts and pretty red and black dresses combined in this fun work which created a fittingly energetic and charming conclusion to NEBT’s wonderful evening.
Performers showed an exceptional level of technique and potential throughout. As dancers stay in the company for just one season, the current cast will shortly be looking for more permanent work in the world’s major ballet companies and I hope they find success. New English Ballet Theatre has shown what a wealth of young talent we have in the UK and the company itself, as well as all of its emerging dancers and artists, are richly deserving of further opportunities to shine.
Continues at the Peacock Theatre until Sun 8 July
Laura Dodge contributes to Dancing Times and English National Ballet’s Dance is the Word blog.
Leave a comment
You must be signed in to post comments.