Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Draft Works

Draft Works, the Royal Ballet, Linbury Studio Theatre @ ROH – reviewed on 26th April

In the words of Wayne McGregor, resident choreographer of the Royal Ballet, Draft Works "provides a unique opportunity for dancers to create new work, and/or to experiment and risk-take with short choreographic sketches". Such opportunities are rare and most welcome considering the lack of successful British ballets produced in the last 15-20 years. This season, eight dancers took part in the programme, all daring to put their creations in front of a discerning public. Lots of interesting work with potential was shown, but my highlights were:

Sian Murphy’s Hold it Down – a pas de deux created to music the choreographer likes to listen and dance to when she’s not at her usual ballerina work. Her first choreography, she used ballroom and ballet inspired movements in a fun and funky way, bringing them up to date alongside the repeated beat of the lyrics ‘hip hop’.

Vanessa Fenton’s And I Always Will – a solo danced on a small onstage platform and performed by Fenton herself. Accompanied by excellent live singing and guitar by Lynne Jackaman and Ivor Sims, Fenton kept her eye focus down and her back to the audience. Wearing a baggy shirt, she placed her foot out and in from her body and rolled down her sleeves, grabbing the flesh underneath. Fenton seemed to be investigating her body as if hating it, feeling constantly embarrassed and disgusted by its form. And I Always Will was intense, emotional and beautiful.

Ludovic Ondiviela’s untitled piece – an ensemble for five dancers full of surprising, jerky and unnatural movements. Knees buckled and arms flapped with each twitch a pleasingly sharp contrast to the smooth flow of the rest of the dancing. Olivia Cowley’s role was particularly fascinating; she appeared like a disturbed mental patient, rolling on the floor, convulsing her head and extending and retracting her fingers.

Other choreographers Natalie Harrison, Alexander Whitley, Erico Montes, Samantha Raine and Valentino Zucchetti also deserved high praise. With such talent on display, let’s hope the next few years will bring plenty more British dance to look forward to.

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