ENB's new autumn season, though, is more than just filmed performance. By inviting a number of highly creative film-makers to work with the dancers and choreographers, ENB has achieved a felicitous cross-fertilisation between dance and film, so that each medium simultaneously gives to, and gains from, the marriage.
Here's a taster:
The season opened on Monday 23 November with Take Five Blues, choreographed by ENB dancer Stina Quagebeur. Set to two of her favourite pieces of music, Paul Desmond’s Take Five, and a jazzy arrangement of Bach's Vivace, this is perhaps the most familiar piece of the set, which is not to say it isn't deeply enjoyable. Quagebeur's blue-clad dancers, five men and three women, injected freshness, humour and jazzy twists into her classical steps, performing first as a group, then breaking into playful, athletic displays for each other in a section reminiscent of William Forsythe.
It was an accomplished, highly entertaining opener, beautifully filmed by Shaun James Grant.
On Monday 30 November ENB streamed Bolshoi-trained international choreographer Yuri Possokhov's Senseless Kindness, his first collaboration with an UK company. Whereas the preceding week's work was all plotless joy of dance, Senseless Kindness is laden with significance and emotion. Inspired by Vasily Grossman’s novel Life and Fate, about a Russian family caught in the Second World War, it is an impressionistic work for two couples, whose simple costumes take us back to the 1940s. There is no graphic narrative as such, just a progression of moods, set to Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No1.
Filmmaker Thomas James uses bold lighting and a stark, textured black and white approach, his busy, assertive camerawork adding layers of interpretation to the shifting moods of the dancers, Isaac Hernández, Alison McWhinney, Francesco Gabriele Frola and Emma Hawes, all excellent.
On Monday 7 December we cross to the other side, with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui's supernatural Laid In Earth. Also filmed by Thomas James, this shows perhaps the greatest interpenetration of the two mediums, dance and film. Described as a 'torn apart' quartet, the four dancers are ghosts, long ago laid in earth, so that vegetation sprouts from their moving, dancing but unseeing bodies, shaped by costumes by Dries Van Noten and make-up by Natasha Lawes.
New electronic music composed by Olga Wojciechowska sandwiches Dido's Lament, from Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, one of the most poignant arias ever composed, sung here by mezzo-soprano Flora McIntosh. Here the film-maker uses colour, hazy blue, murky watery green to great effect, mirroring each other and amplifying the choreographer's original intention. Intense interpretations by Precious Adams, Jeffrey Cirio, James Streeter and Erina Takashashi make Laid in Earth a haunting work.
On Monday 14 December ENB premieres Echoes, a new work by Russell Maliphant. The choreographer continues his collaboration with video artist Panagiotis Tomaras, their ongoing exploration of an aesthetic that relies on the interplay of light and darkness, with sound design by Maliphant's stage and life partner, Dana Fouras. But whereas their previous collaboration relied almost entirely on Panagiotis' shimmering video projections, here, mindful perhaps of the need to adapt to what works on screen, the initial video projections fade away, and the work is more conventionally lit with shafts of soft light breaking the surrounding darkness to reveal or conceal.
Skilfully filmed by Michael Nunn and William Trevitt, otherwise known as the founders and directors of BalletBoyz, Echoes features a dreamy and totally immersive pas de deux for Fernanda Oliveira and Fabian Reimair.
On Monday 21 December, we return to dance for dance's sake with former Rambert dancer Arielle Smith’s Jolly Folly, an exhilarating work driven by zany humour that takes us back to the black and white days of silent movies, with more than a nod to Charlie Chaplin's style and presence. Eight dancers in unisex tuxedos, spurred on by Latin and jazz-infused covers of Tchaikovsky, Strauss and Mozart by the Klazz Brothers, are captured on Amy Becker-Burnett's film, sometimes in close-up, others in ensemble prancing; and if you thought ballet and women's boxing would never cross paths… think again! The aptly named Jolly Folly is an absolute delight, and just what's needed as this strange year draws to an end.
English National Ballet Philharmonic provided the live music.
Ballet on Demand
72-hr rentals from £4.99, no subscription required
Stream to your favourite devices
|What||ENB At Home review|
|Where||Online | MAP|
04 Nov 20 – 31 Dec 20, 72-hour rentals