Next Generation Festival – New English Ballet Theatre
It must be a relief for founding Artistic Director Karen Pilkington-Miksa and her New English Ballet Theatre to be performing live in the Linbury Theatre. The company doesn’t perform all year round and will have been hit hard in the past couple of years and yet this relatively small enterprise leaves a lasting impression. Formed in 2010, its mission is to give opportunities to emerging talent whether they are dancers, choreographers, composers or designers. The results are always fresh and interesting, often generating some memorable contributions to the industry. The six pieces, all by female choreographers, were individually lit by Andrew Ellis and he has managed to do justice to each one.
Opening the performance was Ruth Brill’s Domino, for six dancers, to music by Ryuichi Sakamoto and delightfully costumed (with a nod to Mondrian) by Elin Steele. In a human game of dominoes, the choreography neatly plays with patterns in crisply executed phrases. This may not be groundbreaking material but it was nevertheless a chance to draw attention to the talent on offer. Daniela Cardim’s Nocturne was a deeply expressive pas de deux to Chopin’s Nocturne No.13 in C Minor. Camino Llonch and Daniel Corthorn absolutely captured the underlying current of experiencing grief and the choreography echoed the music in all its light and shade in a series of beautifully crafted passages.
Morgann Runacre-Temple is no stranger to exploring new ideas and in her Rosamunde, set to Tom Lane’s modern reimagining of Schubert’s Rosamunde Quartet, focuses on revealing and concealing. With a clever use of hands (emphasised by Ellis’s excellent lighting) there is a great deal of intricate weaving of bodies in order to fulfil her ideas. Again, while this was not startlingly memorable, it was very well danced.
The second half opened with a completely new work by Georgie Rose, Solace. Rose looks to expose the sincerity of apology using Ruby Fulton’s I am Sorry Not Sorry followed by the mellower Pale Blue Dot by Roger Goula. She is certainly developing a very individual choreographic voice with a highly stylised vocabulary. Much attention to detail and some innovative lifts proved effective in displaying the versatility of the dancers. Especially good in this were Corthorn again and Mischa Goodman. It is still early days in Rose’s journey as a choreographer but she has great potential both in the language itself and in her choice of theme. In a brief film by Alice Pennefather, Kristen McNally has choreographed a charming, very chilled out piece ironically titled I Can’t Dance to the music of Genesis. Gorgeous 1960s costume designs by Nina Kobiashvili adorn the dancers who slink their way through the number, almost tongue in cheek.
The evening closed with excerpts from Jenna Lee’s The Four Seasons. Set to Max Richter’s recomposed Vivaldi music of the same name, I wholeheartedly applaud the way Lee has created a very classically based work that challenges the dancers while also keeping within a well-structured framework of a joyous piece of dance. The pas de deux, which often involved complicated and unusual lifts, were deftly delivered. I thoroughly enjoyed Mayuki Suzuki and Xholindi Muçi in their Summer pas de deux, in particular his playful presentation. April Dalton’s glorious costumes added to the pleasure.
The company bring youthful vigour and enthusiasm to it all, but it was also pleasing to see such a well balanced programme.