NEBT perform with gusto in Cycles of Loss and Love

United KingdomUnited Kingdom New English Ballet Theatre: Cycles of Loss and Love: Aud Jebsen Studio Theatre, Royal Academy of Dance, London, 11.11.2022. (JO’D)

NEBT’s The Four Seasons © Deborah Jaffe

Choreography – Daniela Cardim
Music – Frédéric Chopin, Nocturne No.13 in C minor Op.48 No.1
Costumes – Lisa James.

War Women Awaiting (excerpt from Remembrance)
Choreography – Wayne Eagling
Music – George Frideric Handel, Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day
Sets – Nina Kobiakshvili
Costumes – April Dalton.

Choreography – Matthew Ball
Music – Jean Sibelius, ‘Laetare Anima Mea (My Soul Rejoices)

The Four Seasons
Choreography – Jenna Lee
Music – Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons
Costumes – April Dalton
Lighting – Andrew Ellis.

In 2018 New English Ballet Theatre commissioned a work from choreographer Wayne Eagling, Remembrance, to mark the hundredth anniversary of armistice year. On Remembrance Day four years later, and in the context of a contemporary war in Europe, the company performs an excerpt from the piece as part of a four-work programme: Cycles of Loss and Love.

Starting with a pas de deux between a woman (Remembrance was based on the life of Marie Rambert) and her soldier lover, it develops into a dance for six women: the Marie Rambert figure and five war widows. It stood out at the Peacock Theatre in 2018, this dance of women mourning to the music of Handel. It stands up here. Like the sorrowful Young Girl in Frederick Ashton’s The Two Pigeons, the central figure (Natalia Kerner on this occasion) is comforted by her companions in what could be a small-scale version of early-nineteenth-century ballet’s ‘white act’. The feelings of one woman amplified, made universal, through movement, including the pas de bourrée, that is repeated by, or shared with, others.

Two more pas de deux, one of them new, also feature on the programme. Daniela Cardim’s Nocturne, to Chopin, was performed by NEBT as part of the Next Generation Festival at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre in June of this year. In the smaller space of the Aud Jebsen Studio Theatre at the Royal Academy of Dance, Genevieve Heron and Aitor Viscarolasaga Lopez bring a softer, less intense but more intimate tone to its choreography.

Matthew Ball and Mayara Magri in (Re)Current © Daniele Silingardi

The second pas de deux, Re(Current), was choreographed by The Royal Ballet Principal, Matthew Ball, who performed it with fellow company Principal, Mayara Magri. Sleek, and in the case of the bare-chested Matthew Ball, muscular, they seemed to occupy the whole of the stage with really sweeping port de bras, really assured lifts, really confident balances. Like the music of Sibelius that accompanies it, the choreography flows. The two dancers gave the impression of knowing exactly what they and their partner should be doing at any particular moment, exactly what they are going to do next.

Jenna Lee’s The Four Seasons gives the dancers of New English Ballet Theatre, as a company, ‘world enough, and time’ to perform in ensembles and duets of neo-classical and contemporary style. Set to Max Richter’s reworking of Vivaldi, greatly enhanced by Andrew Ellis’s lighting and April Dalton’s costumes, it is a work with which the company is familiar and which it performs with gusto.

From Spring to Winter, from sunny ensembles to sultry duets, the dancers keep up a momentum as they go through variations of tempo and emotion. The choreographer, a former soloist with English National Ballet, makes references to George Balanchine, Kenneth MacMillan, Wayne McGregor. The piece ends with a focus on its female dancers in a pleasing and delicate response to the score: one at a time, in quick succession, four women dance on to the stage and off in a kind of graduated farewell to the audience.

John O’Dwyer

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