Saturday, 14 May 2011


Choreographics, English National Ballet - reviewed on 11th May

Photo: Laurent Liotardo
ENB’s annual evening of experimental works showcased creations by six company dancers and two guest choreographers.

The highlight was Stina Quagebeur’s Conformity. For three males and three females, the work investigated gender inequality. It commenced with men standing side by side, forming a ‘wall’ of masculinity, which the women behind attempted to break though, each time being thrust back. The males held the females and manipulated them, swinging their legs from side to side like pendulums, asserting their control and male dominance. The women were left frustrated and desperate to be free, but at the same time totally dependent on their male partners for support and protection. Crystal Costa turned desperately to each man in turn, every time being thrown and spun like a helpless ragdoll. The piece ended powerfully as she walked away with her partner but then turned back, unsure whether to conform or keep fighting for her independence.

Zhanat Atymtayev’s choreographic work had dancers moving in wave patterns, one after another, forming attractive, rippling shapes. Van Le Ngoc, fresh from his success at the Coliseum with Vue de l’autre, displayed Black Gold – a piece moving between intimidating tribal movements and haunting and precise contemporary dance. The high point was a duet between Kei Akahoshi and Yonah Acosta of grasping, reaching and folding splendour.

F.I.S.H. by Daniel Paul Jones was performed to an interestingly eclectic mix of music – from bagpipes to rock to the sounds of kittens meowing. However, the dancing felt disjointed, and the piece lacked a coherent theme running through it. James Streeter’s A triangle without a shape used interestingly uncomfortable movements to create abstract patterns. The final work by a company dancer (Yat-Sen Chang) evoked a ballroom atmosphere with dancers dressed smartly and swirling their partners across the dance floor in a simple and enjoyable manner.

Guest choreographer Daniela Cardim created Inertia. With fabulous performances by dancers including Begoña Cao, Inertia’s movement reached break-neck speed, before suddenly dropping to a requisite moment of tranquillity. In Jennifer Jackson’s Time Chant, the nine female dancers appeared like other-worldly zombies, performing strange and unnatural movements accompanied by frighteningly imposing music.

Wayne Eagling introduced and closed the evening, rightfully praising the choreographers for their bravery in exposing works to an audience. Seeing the talents continue to develop over the next few years will no doubt be both captivating and rewarding.

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