Jamiel Devernay-Laurence brings a further wide range of dance styles to his Canary Wharf Ballet Nights

United KingdomUnited Kingdom Ballet Nights: Jamiel Devernay-Laurence (compère). Lanterns Dance Studio, London, 23.2.2024. (JO’D)

Yasmine Naghdi and Reece Clarke in Romeo and Juliet pas de deux © Deborah Jaffe

From pointe shoes to bare feet; from tutus to naked torsos: what the dancers wore in the curtain call, or did not wear, was testimony to the wide range of dance styles that had been brought together in the most recent of Jamiel Devernay-Laurence’s Ballet Nights at Canary Wharf.

A Ballet Nights that is set to become a monthly, rather than seasonal, event, with regular slots for ‘headliners’, ‘tutu ballerina’, and ‘mystery performer’. And with Jamiel Devernay-Laurence as the familiar compère, introducing each piece of dance (to mostly pre-recorded music) with a mix of factual information and humorous asides.

The evening began with Viktor Erik Emanuel playing Ravel at the onstage piano. This was followed by the ‘tutu ballerina’ Chloe Keneally, from English National Ballet, with the Etoile Variation from Paquita. Next, Jordan James Bridge returned to the Ballet Nights stage with And So the Rhythm Goes, a further take on the bare-chested, flexible, dancing male body.

Laurel Dalley Smith performing Laurel by Sir Robert Cohan © Deborah Jaffe

Not the least interesting aspect of the Ballet Nights project has been its showcasing of work by Robert Cohan (alongside less frequently performed work by Kenneth MacMillan). This time it was Robert Cohan’s final piece of choreography, Laurel a solo from Seven Portraits, danced by Laurel Dalley Smith, from the Martha Graham Company, on whom it was created during lockdown. Barefoot, in a knee-length, dark green dress, the dancer described by Robert Cohan himself as ‘feral and animalistic’ once again showed her power and her strength, culminating in the solo’s single, central, second position plié.

Cydney Watson and Liam Woodvine performed an engaging contemporary duet for male and female dancer before it was the turn of ‘headliners’ Yasmine Naghdi and Reece Clarke from The Royal Ballet. They do not dance together at The Royal Opera House but were nothing less than breathtaking in the sweeping expansiveness of Spring Waters pas de deux, choreographed by the Bolshoi’s Asaf Messerer (Maya Plisetskaya’s uncle) in 1959.

Part Two opened with Viktor Erik Emanuel playing music by Robert Schumann. Then Chloe Keneally danced, with more confidence and largely on pointe, Aurora (from Act III Sleeping Beauty). Guy Salim, the evening’s ‘mystery performer’ (and Jamiel Devernay-Laurence’s brother) wore rather heavier tap-dancing shoes, by contrast, to produce a quick-fire variety of percussive rhythms.

Rambert-trained Felicity Chadwick reprised a performance of Joshua Junker’s 324A, the one piece to be performed to live music (Viktor Erik Emanuel playing J.S. Bach). James Pett and Travis Clausen-Knight (Pett|Clausen-Knight), intense performers both, who previously worked with Wayne McGregor, presented Nerve Wire, the reworking of an earlier piece given additional atmosphere by five, vertical fluorescent tubes of changing colour fixed to the floor of the stage.

The evening ended with another chance to see Yasmine Naghdi and Reece Clarke, tender and thoughtful this time in the Balcony pas de deux from Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet. I once thought there was something tentative around the edges of Yasmin Naghdi’s dancing. There was nothing tentative at all, here, in her clear arabesques or in the bourreé that expresses Juliet’s adolescent joy at finding her love for Romeo is returned.

John O’Dwyer

Miroirs: IV. Alborada del Gracioso (Ravel)
Performed by Viktor Erik Emanuel

Etoile Variation (from Paquita)
Dancer – Chloe Keneally
Choreography – Marius Petipa
Music – Ludwig Minkus

And So The Rhythm Goes
Choreographed and performed by Jordan James Bridge
Music – Rival Consoles

Laurel  (a solo from Seven Portraits)
Dancer – Laurel Dalley Smith
Choreography – Robert Cohan
Music – Nils Frahm

Watson & Woodvine
Choreographed and performed by Cydney Watson and Liam Woodvine
Music – Ben Lukas Boysen

Spring Waters pas de deux
Dancers: Yasmine Naghdi and Reece Clarke

Abegg Variations, Op.1 (R. Schumann)
Performed by Viktor Erik Emanuel

Aurora (from Act III Sleeping Beauty)
Dancer – Chloe Keneally
Choreography – Marius Petipa
Music – Tchaikovsky

Dancer – Felicity Chadwick
Choreography – Joshua Junker
Music – J.S. Bach
Piano – Viktor Erik Emanuel

Nerve Wire
Choreographed and performed by James Pett and Travis Clausen-Knight
Music – Sean Pett

Balcony pas de deux (from Romeo and Juliet)
Dancers – Yasmine Naghdi and Reece Clarke
Choreography – Kenneth MacMillan
Music – Prokofiev

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