Monday, 12 March 2012

ENB at Tate Britain and Move It

Outreach performances, English National Ballet – reviewed on 2nd March (Tate) and 10th March (Move It)
Beyond Ballets Russes at Tate Britain
Photo: Chris Catalan
English National Ballet are reaching larger and more diverse audiences with their latest performances. A week-long residency at the Tate Britain culminated earlier this month in a showing of three new short ballets. Choreographed by James Streeter, Stina Quagebeur and Hubert Essakow, the experimental works were inspired by Picasso’s paintings which are currently on display at the museum.
Proving more popular than the company had clearly envisaged, thousands of people packed into the small standing-room only gallery with little chance of appreciating choreography concealed on a nonsensically low stage. I saw only an occasional dancer’s arm or leg emerge from behind the heads of the people in front, and left most disappointed not to have been able to fully enjoy the event. The Tate programme was a fabulous idea that didn’t quite come off.

ENB gave another dramatic performance over the weekend at dance festival Move It, with a similarly large audience but a higher and more-visible stage. Dancers performed with Britain’s Got Talent stars Flawless in a dynamic street and ballet fusion. With back-flips and head-spinning, the show was more acrobatic than artistic, but it certainly displayed the company’s versatility and vibrance.

Daria Klimentova and Vadim Muntagirov performed a more classical pas de deux from Suite en Blanc, which forms part of the upcoming Beyond Ballets Russes season. Despite music being drowned out by crowd noise and interpretive details lost in the enormity of the venue, the couple were both radiant and powerful. They commanded the stage with an elegance and majesty that projected right across Olympia. 

Emerging Dancer winner, Yonah Acosta, also performed a crowd-pleasing Don Quixote solo with effortless strength and precision. Most wonderful to see (from my gallery viewing-position) was Klimentova straining her neck backstage to watch the young Cuban’s performance. Clearly Acosta is a talent that makes even the brightest company stars take notice.
It is great that English National Ballet is finding ways to connect with and display their talent to wider audiences. Hopefully, their outings at the Tate and Move It have inspired a new generation to buy tickets for company performances, which will fund even further work in bringing ballet to the masses.

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