Choreographers and Composers Collaborate on New Ballets

United KingdomUnited Kingdom  Zimmer, Gozzi, Cockeram, Osborn, Baldwin, Garcia Tomas, Choreographics – A Letter to…: Dancers of English National Ballet and English National Ballet School with Composers from the Royal College of Music, The Place, London, 3.5.2013. (JO’D)

Jansen: Hooked: Emmeline Jansen, Ashley Scott
Nakamura: A Fruitful Death: Anaïs Chalendard, Juan Rodríguez, Junor Souza
Stott: Work in Progress: Barry Drummond, Shevelle Dynott, Désirée Ballantyne, Araminta Wraith
Quagebeur: Domna: Nathan Young, Senri Kou, Crystal Costa, Adela Ramírez, Jia Zhang
Lukuwin: Waiting for the One: Bridgett Zehr, Alison McWhiney, James Forbat, Anjuli Hudson, Zhanat Atymtayev, Ksenia Ovsyanik, Teo Dubreuil
Reimar: [co][hes][sion]: Joshua McSherry-Gray, Jung ah Choi, Ken Saruhashi, Erina Takahashi, Laurent Liotardo, Nancy Osbaldeston

Choreographic Mentor: Kerry Nicholls
Musicians: Sam Brown, Axelle Porret, Sophie Mather, Amy Green, Colin Alexander, Jennifer Ames, Aisha Orazbayeva, Adrian Somogyi, Sophie Robertshaw, Ruairi Glasheen, Kaya Kuwabara, Diego Aceña
Films: Laurent Liotardo

Lead Image
Copyright English National Ballet

For an evening that was meant to be about dance and music (five dancers from English National Ballet each collaborating as choreographers with a different composer from the Royal College of Music) there was a lot of talking, too. Before each work, a film was shown in which the young dancer/choreographers (two women and three men) expressed their feelings about the collaborative process, said what they hoped to convey, and voiced their excitement at presenting their work at The Place, which is associated with modern rather than classical dance. The films also included footage of the dances being created or rehearsed. This lessened some of the impact when the dances were actually performed. It was as if they were being seen a second time, or as if the film of the work, and the talk about it, were validating the work itself.

In all five pieces the dancers show evidence of their classical training, but in Makoto Nakamura’s tender, thoughtful A Fruitful Death the two men and one woman fold each other’s bodies or sweep each other up. In Tamarin Stott’s Work in Progress the dancers wear shapeless, shift-like garments as they stand in their own square of light, moving awkwardly as they listen to a soundtrack of their repeated interior monologues (‘I’m getting paid for this.’, ‘We’d better write this down.’, etc.).

Stina Quagebeur’s Domna is perhaps the most ‘polished’ piece: a background of discordant strings against which one man engages in a series of combative pas de deux with four women. It also looks the most polished, with black and a touch of red as its only colours. The dancers in Anton Lukovin’s Waiting for the One wear white and, apart from a central section in which they incorporate the vocabulary of musical comedy, move in the most classical way. A plaintive female figure (remarkably portrayed) drifts alone between three couples. In the pre-dance interview, Lukovin describes his piece as ‘abstract and also absurd’. At the end, however, this figure rushes off the stage with a letter in her hand, which suggest some narrative development.

Fabian Reimar’s [co][hes][ion], the final, and perhaps most experimental, work starts with a pas de deux in which the two dancers barely touch. The man holds his hands, or foot, a few inches from his partner’s body, as if causing her to move by willpower. This piece also makes use of the stage floor as none of the others has. Two of the dancers make their entrance at floor level, rolling over each other in what seems an impossible configuration of human bodies. It ends (not altogether successfully) with the dancers crouched in darkness at the front of the stage as the uncomfortably loud electronic music that has accompanied it fades away.

The evening began, after an introductory talk by English National Ballet Associate Artist, George Williamson, with a performance of English National Ballet School’s ‘choreographic platform competition’ winner, Emmeline Jansen (who was also one of the dancers). For this there was no explanatory film. In the space between two sets of barres, two female dancers, one more forceful than the other, act out a relationship that seems to hover between affection and hostility. There is sharp intake and release of breath, curved torsos, and a lift by one woman of the other. Most of all, there is a section during which the dance is performed, not to a background of recorded music, but to silence.

John O’Dwyer