For this performance each participant offered a brief filmed clip explaining the thinking behind the ballet on offer. Sidorova, talking to the company’s artistic coordinator, Ernst Meisner, said her piece was about the dancers themselves, the current stage in their young lives (ages 17–21) and the decade ahead in which they would discover who they really are.
Her work, Bloom, set to music by Caroline Shaw + Ataccaquartet and Bobby Ferrin, was exactly that: a lively, carefree work for four men and five women, who lark around with each other but always with a smile or a meaningful look involving us in the action.
They are all superb dancers, with a solid, at times almost show-off-ish classical technique; each is given an opportunity to shine. Wearing the universal youth uniform of jeans and loose tops (costumes by Sidorova), they brought a rousing youthful feel to the evening.
It was a pity, then, that what came next and brought evening to a close was a true downer: Innocent Children, created by Alleyne Dance for the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance.
On a darkened stage, 16 students, predominantly women in stone-coloured costumes, started by sitting on hard chairs, torsos, arms and hands vigorously jerking to the unnerving sound of an old scratchy record.
They seemed to be commanded by one woman, and once they got up from the chairs they spent the rest of the time being vile to each other. The point entirely escaped me, but it had an unwelcome depressing effect.
Also misguided was the imposition on third-year students of The Royal Ballet School of a hard-core Wayne McGregor work, with all its quirks, hyperextensions and awkward partnering.
Called Presentient, it was danced to Steve Reich’s hard-to-master Triple Quartet. The students did their best, but it was clear none of this came naturally to them, and the sheer effort of concentration gave their faces a vacant look. Your heart went out to them.
Their Year 1 counterparts did much better with the Pas de Douze from Swan Lake, a little Ashton gem set to music by Tchaikovsky. Six couples waltzed with grace, confidence and seeming enjoyment. Nobody especially caught the eye, but as an ensemble they were a pleasure to watch.
The final piece in the first half, Between Us, was choreographed by Mikaela Polley to music by Max Richter for the four men and four women of the Aud Jebsen Young Dancers programme. All hand-picked as deserving of the intensive training provided by the programme (we saw their Australian counterparts earlier in the festival), they are beautiful dancers, the lines of the long-legged Brazilian Denilson Almeida particularly engaging.
An evening of contrasts and mixed emotions, then; but regardless of the vagaries of programming, it was heart-warming to see so many promising young dancers.
|What||An Evening with the Next Generation review|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
13 Jun 22 – 14 Jun 22, 19:45 Dur.: two hours inc one interval
|Website||Click here to book|