ENB Dancers Choreograph Works Inspired by  Post-War America

United KingdomUnited Kingdom Various composers, Choreographics:: English National Ballet, Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells, London,, 19.6.2015 (JO’D)

Picture Credit :English National Ballet
Picture Credit :English National Ballet

Dancers: Jonathan Milton, Timothée Mochamps, Stefano Nappo, Archie Sullivan
Choreographer: Joshua Legge
Music: Venetian Snares, Intergration


A Touch for Eternity
Dancers: Adela Ramírez, Juan Rodríguez
Choreographer: James Streeter
Music: Max Richter, November
Memory of What Could Have Been
Dancers: Sarah Kundi, Vitor Menezes, Guilherme Menezes
Choreographer:: Renato Paroni de Castro
Music: Clifton Williams, Symphonic Dance No. 3; Frank Martin, Etudes for String Orchestra


Give My Love to the Sunrise
Dancers: Tiffany Hedman, Daniel Kraus
Choreographer: Morgann Runacre-Temple
Music: Laura Stevens, Original Composition


Dancers: Anjuli Hudson, Ken Saruhashi, Barry Drummond, Shevelle Dynott
Choreography: Fabian Reimair
Music: Valgeir Sigurðsson [Architecture of Loss] Gone Not Forgotten, World Without Ground, Big Reveal; Volker Bertelmann (synonym Hauschka) Craco


Fractured Memory
Dancers: Laurretta Summerscales, Madison Keesler, Katja Khaniukova, Jinhao Zhang, Daniele Silingardi, Junor Souza
Choreographer: Max Westwell
Music: Olafur Arnalds, Tomorrow’s Song; Nils Frahm, Said and Done; Max
Richter, Spring 2


A Room in New York
Dancers: Crystal Costa, James Forbat
Choreographer: Stina Quagebeur
Music: Alexander Scriabin, Piano Sonata no. 1 in F Minor and Prelude in C Sharp Minor
Costume Design: Louie Whitemore
Lighting Design: David Richardson


Over the last three years the English National Ballet’s Choreographics has been presented in an increasingly careful way. For this year’s event Russell Maliphant acted as Choreographic Advisor (with Kerry Nicholls, again, as Choreographic Mentor). Alongside four works choreographed by English National Ballet dancers, two by artists from outside the company have been included. The theme given to the choreographers was post-war America. A duet by male and female dancer is the go-to configuration. The only work in which it does not feature is the one that opens the programme, Joshua Legge’s Babel. This English National Ballet School 2015 Choreographic Competition winner is a short, sharp, inventive piece performed by four men in tight-fitting red and black who come and go, and when they are on the stage move, with such speed and athleticism that they give the impression of being twice that number.

The male and female couple in James Streeter’s A Touch for Eternity represent Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in the hours before their execution for wartime espionage. Adela Ramírez and Juan Rodríguez twist and turn, to music by the ubiquitous Max Richter, in merging circles of shadow-striped light. Oddly enough (though perhaps not if one thinks of Streeter’s work for Choreographics last year), the piece works best not when they are dancing, but when their bodies are in intimate and motionless contact.

There is a sense of unease to Renato Paroni de Castro’s Memory of What Could Have Been. Twin brother dancers Vitor Menezes and Guilherme Menezes dance twin-brother sailors in the US Navy. The uniforms and the choreographic vocabulary make you think of Jerome Robbins and On The Town. Neither brother looks quite comfortable when dancing together at the start, but Sarah Kundi, the widow of one of them, shows herself to be an expressive dancer-actress as the piece progresses.

Tiffany Hedman, entering the stage in Morgann Runacre-Temple’s Give My Love to the Sunrise, is the first dancer of the evening really to ‘change the air’ (as she did towards the end of William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated in ENB’s Modern Masters programme at Sadler’s Wells in March). It is to do with the complementary working of her arms and her legs, and the energy contained at her waist. Here she dances Rita Hayworth’s character in the film The Lady From Shanghai. Daniel Kraus, as the character played by Orson Welles, portrays a broken masculinity. His body bends and collapses in a way that is redolent of the dancer in the Melancholic Variation of Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments. Give My Love to the Sunrise is the only piece of the evening for which the score (by Laura Stevens) was composed in collaboration with the choreographer. It is perhaps too long, but it has a vivid quality.

Fabian Reimair’s traumA shows this choreographer’s continuing concern with how the stage looks as much as with what the dancers are doing on it. It also shows his continuing fondness, as a choreographer, for the floor. Three years ago two of the dancers in his [co][hes][ion] made their entrance by rolling on to it joined together like a ball. Shevelle Dynott, Barry Drummond and Ken Saruhashi spend much of the time kneeling in squares of light at the back of the stage, with only their arms moving (eloquently in the case of Saruhashi) while Anjuli Hudson lies thinking of her lost husband in the foreground. In the requisite duet, by Saruhashi and Hudson, dancers and choreographer convey the sense of two people (the woman and her husband) dancing together but in different worlds. While this goes on Dynott and Drummond lie face down, as if dead, on the floor.

In his first contribution to Choreographics, Max Westwell presents not one duet but three. The aspect of post-war America that informs Fractured Memory is the drive-in cinema. Its three couples represent three stages of a relationship. If the men can all be seen as different aspects of Max Westwell, as a partner, the three duets are distinctly different in tone. The first is tender (Katja Khaniukova balancing on Daniele Silingardi’s toes), the second fraught (Madison Keesler clutching at air), the third rapturous (Junor Souza and Laurretta Summerscales in sweeping, soaring lifts that extend the space of the Lilian Baylis Studio stage both physically and emotionally).

The programme ends, as it did last year, with a work by Stina Quagebeur which takes as its reference the relationship between the artist Edward Hopper and his wife. As a dancer, Stina Quagebeur brings pathos to a role such as ‘Grandmother’ in Nutcracker. As a choreographer, she deals, in her own words, with ‘intention behind movement’. While Vera, the work she created for last year’s Choreographics, showed a woman and her memory of the man she loved, in A Room in New York the man is very much alive. James Forbat is believably neurotic as Hopper, keeping an anguished Crystal Costa at arm’s length (sometimes literally, with a hand on her forehead or chest). Three years ago Quagebeur seemed in debt to Petipa and Balanchine, last year to Frederick Ashton. In A Room in New York she develops a style that is more her own.

John O’Dwyer

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