English National Ballet comes back to life with Solstice
For reasons that are not satisfactorily explained, the Royal Ballet and the English National Ballet have both chosen to celebrate their exit from lockdown with low-key programs of contemporary works. The Royal Ballet has finally raised the âbravoâ quotient with its glorious triple list of 20th century masterpieces by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. ENB is now joining the fun with Solstice, an exceptional set of recent commissions and classic fireworks performed in the company’s former home on London’s South Bank.
The company weren’t too sorry to leave the Royal Festival Hall in 1997. Without a flying tower and worthy wings, the flagship of the 1951 Festival of Britain is totally unsuitable for theatrical performances, but the lines of sight are formidable, the wide if not deep stage) and the acoustics have improved a lot.
The nine-course menu was carefully balanced, contemporary work skillfully interwoven with tutu treats. The hors d’oeuvre was a generous portion of Ronald Hynd’s production wedding celebrations of Coppelia. The dance was careful rather than inspired, but Jeffrey Cirio showed his talent entrechats, Gavin Sutherland and the ENB Philharmonic relished the DÃ©libes score and Desmond Heeley’s creations are an eternal delight – even I would wear a dirndl if it were organza.
Akram Khan’s angry and desperate duo Dust, made in 2014 to mark the centenary of WWI, seems a bit out of context (a few poppies and a twist of barbed wire might help), but the ever-expressive Erina Takahashi and James Streeter were spellbinding, doing a job light from the incredibly cantilevered elevators in which the pair transform into a four-armed monster locked forever at the hip.
Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Klutzy Duo Broken wings between Frida Kahlo and her fellow artist Diego Rivera tells her own story and was received with enthusiasm. Hollow, a lockdown creation by the talented Stina Quagebeur, was a well-designed hapless coupling danced in daytime attire by Emily Suzuki and Victor Prigent.
The action packed ballet dance for three dancers of The Corsair is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. The loudest cheers on Wednesday were for Shiori Kase, who took control of time and space in a stunning accelerate variation made in close collaboration with Sutherland’s ever-alert stick. An attentive ear can transform the texts of the ballet into poetry; it is not enough to go through the movements.
The Jewels Quintet from Act III by Kenneth MacMillan the The Sleeping Beauty was conscientiously delivered but the steps lacked brightness. The black swan no two had been coached by Derek Deane, creator of the two ENBs Swan Lakes, but while Natascha Mair had the right dark sequins for Odile, she never quite found her form. His Siegfried, Isaac HernÃ¡ndez, is not a particularly nuanced dance actor, but he put a lot of pepper into his solos, with ice pirouettes and high arcs. thrown.
The evening ended solidly in the 21st century with Playlist (Track 1, 2), commissioned in 2018 by William Forsythe. This high octane boys ensemble deploys 16 dancers in a mix of classy steps and disco moves that becomes a demonstration of gladiator technique. A catchy end to a well-planned evening.
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