7 April 2016
National Youth Dance Company is A VERY GOOD IDEA. With English dancers seeming to lose out to their foreign competitors in the jobs market, this boost for local talent is just what is needed. The statistics are impressive: since the scheme was started in 2012, 1,500 young people have worked with the company in 27 venues across England, with 120 actually performing with the company. The NYDC is a boost to those already in training and entry into professional training for others.
This year, the company of 40 was under the direction of guest director Michael Keegan-Dolan. The work was a collaborative effort, the movement phrases created by the dancers themselves in the studio then tweaked and shaped by the team. Still teenagers, only 15-19 years old, they come from a variety of backgrounds reflecting both the diversity of dance styles and the cultural richness of 21st century England. All had something to offer and they delighted in displaying their skills, the street dancers and hip-hoppers getting the best of the deal with exuberant outbursts of acrobatic tricks.
It was also a treat to have the young professionals of the South Bank Sinfonia on stage playing Max Richter’s re-composition of The Four Seasons by Vivaldi. The dance drew inspiration from the rich diversity of the music, catching the humour in a phrase or the thrill of a virtuoso violin passage and translating this into movement. Although much of the dance was ensemble, this was a company of individuals. The confidence of the performers was impressive as dancers came to the fore for brief moments alone or shared with a colleague: moments that were sometimes comic, sometimes filled with emotion but always original.
What was missing was a central concept to draw all this talent into a meaningful work. The energy and enthusiasm were unflagging but too often expended in routine dance lines played out to the audience. However the audience of family and friends were none too fussed and the dancers got a well-deserved standing ovation.