Thursday, 25 September 2014

Constella Ballet

Ballet for Nancy/ Adagio/ Four on the Floor, Constella Ballet and Orchestra, Lilian Baylis Studio @ Sadler's Wells - reviewed on 20th September
 
Originally comprising musicians alone, Constella Ballet and Orchestra's latest incarnation combines live music with dancers from English National Ballet (ENB) and choreography by George Williamson.
 
The company's debut triple bill at Sadler's Wells' Lilian Baylis Studio commenced with a solo for Nancy Osbaldeston (formerly of ENB and now with the Royal Ballet of Flanders), simply titled Ballet for Nancy. To Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring and wearing a gold-coloured lace dress, she walked pointedly onto stage, reaching towards a helium-filled red balloon.

Choreography and music alternated between the mournful and the ecstatic, but Osbaldeston's movement quality was irresistible throughout. Combining flowing circular arm lines with sudden moments of beautifully held balances, choreography seemed to highlight and play with Copland's pleasing melodies whilst perfectly suiting its dancer.

Ksenia Ovsyanick in Four on the Floor
Photo: Rachel Cherry
The ballet was disjointed with Osbaldeston repeatedly running on and off (and changing between pointe shoes and bare feet), but it was a joy to watch. In the final scene, the dancer was able to reach the red balloon but then suddenly let go and proceeded to skip and leap joyously about the stage. I'm not sure what the balloon represented but Osbaldeston appeared liberated at last and I felt an inexplicable emotional response as the lights went down.

Williamson's second ballet, Adagio, was a classical pas de deux for Jia Zhang and Max Westwell set to Samuel Barber's well-known Adagio for Strings. What stood out most, however, was Zhang's ripped costume skirt which detracted from the choreography as she attempted to hold it in place.

The evening's finale, Four on the Floor, was a slightly more contemporary quartet with a score by Judd Greenstein. In high leg extensions and lifts, Ksenia Ovsyanick and Nathan Young's sensual interpretation made for an interesting contrast with Laurretta Summerscales and Vitor Menezes' cheeriness. Williamson's choreography shone brightest in its closing moments with all four dancers onstage together, revelling in the ballet's music.
 
The evening would have been better programmed in reverse order to end on the undoubted highlight of Osbaldeston's well-constructed and expertly performed solo. Never the less, this was an enjoyable evening with great dance, choreography and music and I will look forward to seeing more from the Constella Ballet and Orchestra.

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