Review: Yat-Sen Chang Dance Company - Lanterns Studio Theatre

Performance: 9 November 2013
Reviewed by Laura Dodge - Tuesday 12 November 2013

Yat-Sen Chang Dance Company  - Tomomi Sato in 'Entre Du Ballet' Photo: Daniel Paul Jones

Former English National Ballet principal dancer Yat-Sen Chang has set up a small ballet company, which is described as offering talented, recently-graduated dancers the “opportunity to develop their skills and career”. It has already toured the UK, but last weekend marked its debut performance in London, with a range of guests also taking to the stage, including ENB’s Elena Glurjidze and Adela Ramirez. (Note: both were cast in the evening show only and were not seen in the matinee performance I attended.)

With Chang dancing in much of the classical repertoire as well as some of his own contemporary choreography on show, the company seemed to serve as more of a platform for the man after whom it is named than a chance for young dancers to progress as artists. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this, the company’s description feels somewhat misleading when the young dancers spent so little time onstage relative to Chang and the other more established performers.

The choice of venue and repertoire was also rather strange. Kitri’s entrance from Don Quixote and Swanhilda’s opening solo from Coppelia both require a set and other cast members to interact with and make little sense on an empty stage, though they were performed neatly by Jeehe Lee. Such choreography seemed as much out of place as having international ballet stars performing in a small venue Lanterns Studio Theatre (complete with cartoon London backdrop) in the middle of the Docklands.

The young dancers had a solid level of basic technique and made good attempts at the two tricky pas de deux (from Raymonda and Diana and Acteon) given, performed by female company members alongside Chang. They looked at their best, however, in the simpler choreography of Chang’s Entre du Ballet, a classical quadruplet with a lovely range of accompanying music by Giuseppe Verdi. It was the talents of former Scottish Ballet principal Tomomi Sato alone that elevated the performance. She graced the stage with a combination of elegance and vibrance and in the Spartacus pas de deux in particular, appeared light as a feather as she balanced endlessly and was lifted high into the air. The rest of the performance was unexceptional, but Sato displayed a charisma that was hard to resist.



Laura Dodge writes for Dancing Times, Dance Today, Londonist, Bachtrack, amongst other publications. She is also Communications and Membership Officer at Dance UK and a freelance dance teacher.

Photos: Daniel Paul Jones

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