Summer Performance 2015
Wimbledon Theatre, London
July 3, 2015
English National Ballet School fielded a very full programme for their summer show at the New Wimbledon Theatre. It was a pity they didn’t have a larger stage to contain all the talent but with plans announced for a future home for school and company, it may not be too long before they have one.
The programme showcased not only the training and performance skill but also the burgeoning student choreographic talent with four prize-winning works selected from the Choreographic Competition and several pieces by emerging choreographers. Not all served the students as well as they might but this could not be said of the opening and closing works.
Ricardo Amarante’s 3rd Year piece, Burning Desire, opened the show on a dramatic note. The score, Tango, by Lalo Schinfrin, alternated between drum beats and orchestral, while a vivid cerise backdrop silhouetted the dancers – exciting stuff. The choreography showed a distinctive style, sharp, clean and modern with sensual undertones expressed in rhythmic torsos and fluid arms. The work highlighted the dancers’ competence as virtuoso elements were easily absorbed into the flow and a tango ambiance smouldered beneath the surface. Daniela Norman and Joshua Legge captured this duality well in their pas de deux full of inventive double work.
Petal Miller Ashmole’s École Classique, set to music by Edward Lalo is the sort of piece every top school programme must have: a work that shows evidence of the quality of training in technique and style. Set on 1st and 2nd Year students it played to their strengths showing clean classical lines, developing footwork and strong turns. Despite the challenges the dancers communicated well with the audience and the work showed them to best advantage. The work covered both Romantic and Classical style with a lively Spanish section to bring out individual personalities and add spice. There was an impressive quality in beats and jumps from the boys and I loved Phoebe Liggens effortless technique presented with such confidence.
George Williamson’s Trice a neat classical trio was given excellent performances especially from Kaylee Marko, a slight dancer full of charm. Jiří Kylián’s Evening Songs was another welcome inclusion. Gentle and deep, it gave the 1st Year students a chance to show their potential as artists and Daniel Myers was particularly impressive. Another strong performer was Archie Sullivan chosen by Kristin McNally for her comic solo, Stanley.
The choreographic entries all received committed performances from fellow students. The choice of music and ideas showed budding choreographers with something to say. Some were still over-reliant on smoke and fancy lighting, a current trend that, I hope, is on its way out, and while there was still work to be done on finding a stronger focus they were all interesting to watch. I agreed with the judges in finding Jonathan Legge’s Babel, a short head in front of the rest.
Gypsy Dance, a character number in fetching gypsy outfits choreographed by Olga Semenova, was a pleasant interlude but the dancers could have done with something tougher to get their teeth into.
K1 18 from Jose Agudo a macho piece for fourteen third year males – a pretty impressive number on any count – offered more challenges. It had a martial arts feel with lots of movement, lights and action although somewhat lacking in form. However the men seemed to be enjoying it.
Extra-Vinsky to Stravinsky’s tricky Concerto for piano and wind instruments was choreographed by Renato Paroni di Castro also for the 3rd Year students. It was an over ambitious work with a great deal happening and too little stage space. The pointe work was strong and the partnering equally so but seldom given the framing and presentation to make the dancers look as good as they are.
The ENB School is going from strength to strength attracting good students and a strong male cohort. They have valuable links with the company and this year’s employment figures are impressive with around 80% gaining good dance contracts.
Among the destinations for this year’s graduates are English National Ballet (Naomi Bottomer, Georgia Bould), Northern Ballet (Kaylee Marko, Diogo Barbosa, Archie Sullivan), Polish National Ballet (Jordan Bautista), Romanian National Ballet (Daniela Norman, George Nightingale, Miquel Duran Torrents), Staatsoper Hannover (Timothée Mochamps, Conal Francis–Martin), Badisches Staatsballett Karlsruhe (Emiel Vandenburgh).