Though all competing were winners, the exceptionally musical Ivana Bueno is ENB’s 2020 Emerging Dancer

United KingdomUnited Kingdom English National Ballet Emerging Dancer 2020: Finalists, English National Ballet Philharmonic / Graham Sutherland (conductor). Presented by Ore Oduba and live-streamed from City Island, East London, 22.9.2020. (JO’D)

Ivana Bueno, Carolyne Galvao, Miguel Angel Maidana, Victor Prigent,
Emily Suzuki & William Yamada © Karolina Kuras

Dancers – Ivana Bueno, Carolyne Galvao, Miguel Angel Maidana, Victor Prijent, Emily Suzuki, William Yamada

‘A Herculean effort,’ said the company’s Artistic Director and Lead Principal, Tamara Rojo, in her closing speech, about the staging of this year’s English National Ballet Emerging Dancer award. From her voice you could tell she really meant it.

After six months of lockdown, as presenter Ore Oduba pointed out, the six finalists performed their live-streamed classical pas de deux and contemporary duets to a socially distanced audience in a production studio at the company’s East London home. The socially distanced English National Ballet Philharmonic provided music from a studio in another part of the building.

Emily Suzuki and Víctor Prijent, in the opening Satanella, looked more at ease in their variations than in the closer contact of lifts and supports. The psychological distance that always seemed to be between them was used to advantage in their second piece, Stina Quagebeur’s Hollow. In this, Emily Suzuki’s lack of response to her partner’s anxious attempts at intimacy (until the very last moment) was the basis of the dance.

The Talisman, for Ivana Bueno and William Yamada, contained only two lifts, or rather the same lift repeated. It allowed for more flowing movement by both dancers, as did their softer, ‘Grecian’ and ‘Oriental’ costumes. At the end of the evening, Ivana Bueno would be chosen by the five judges as English National Ballet’s Emerging Dancer of 2020. Were Tamara Rojo, Matthew Hart, Kerry Nicholls, Natalia Osipova, Kenneth Tindall and Edward Watson struck, I wonder, by her épaulement, or by her eyes, or by a musicality that shows not only in her arms but also in her hands?

The two dancers displayed the strengths of their partnership again in Mthuthuzeli November’s Full-Out. William Forsythe-influenced choreography that shows them almost daring each other to dance through challenging looks and critical stares. Although their clothes are contemporary, Ivana Bueno wears pointe shoes as if they were another weapon in her armoury. Walking becomes dancing, dancing goes back to walking. ‘Take it or leave it,’ the man and the woman seem to be telling each other throughout the piece. It ends with a kick, from the pointe shoes, and a William Forsythe plunge into darkness.

In Diana and Acteon Carolyne Galvao and Miguel Angel Maidana were very good at the sharp, precise movements of the arms necessary to mime the shooting of arrows. But despite his manège and her apparently infinite fouettés, they seemed more confident in their contemporary duet, Jeffrey Cirio’s both of two…. Owing much to the work of Christopher Wheeldon, this managed to include a few seconds of breakdance for Miguel Angel Maidana before coming to an intriguing close.

‘For me,’ English National Ballet First Artist and Mentor, Sarah Kundi, told Ore Oduba as the judges conferred, ‘they’re all winners in my eyes.’ For the judges it was Ivana Bueno. Her musicality was exceptional. The People’s Choice Award went to Victor Prijent, the Corps de Ballet Award to Claire Barrett. In their ‘thank you’ speeches, all three winners were endearingly simple and brief.

John O’Dwyer

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