It features lively choreography from Jenna Lee to Max Richter’s reworking of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, alongside a new creation from Wayne Eagling (lately Artistic Director of English National Ballet). Eagling's Remembrance follows the wartime experiences of British ballet pioneer Marie Rambert and her husband Ashley Dukes, to a stirring Handel score.
Lee’s The Four Seasons is a stylish affair, thanks in part to April Dalton’s fine costuming.
NEBT, The Four Seasons by Jenna Lee, photo Deborah Jaffe
Each season is clearly signposted, not only by the choreography that integrates the pas de deux with strong full ensemble sections, but also by Andrew Ellis’ vivid lighting.
The opening moments of Spring fizzle with nerves and the occasional wobble as the 13-strong company settle into the energetic choreography.
With the warm hues of Summer comes the standout pas de deux of the piece from Sophie Allnatt and Benjamin Holloway, who execute the choreography in spritely fashion while remaining neat and compact in the bold jetés and shapes that denote the season.
The stunning Autumn shades are echoed in Dalton’s wonderful costumes: full skirted tutus in browns, reds and oranges that waft with the mellowing score. As we reach Winter, Lee’s choreography is more lyrical and softer like the billowing ice blue skirts. The company finally seem to hit their stride as one cohesive unit in the final ensemble section, and the overall effect is rather hypnotic. The Four Seasons is an innovative neoclassical piece that evolves well but could be finessed with a little more drilling in rehearsal.
The newly commissioned Remembrance follows.
NEBT, Remembrance by Wayne Eagling, photo Deborah Jaffe
Wayne Eagling’s work cannot escape comparison to English National Ballet’s No Man’s Land (currently running at Sadler’s Wells), a piece that also explores the prolonged separation of couples through war.
Remembrance, however, feels over long for the story it wishes to tell. It is danced gallantly by its two leads, Alessia Lugoboni (Marie) and Alexander Nuttall (Ashley), but they lack chemistry and there isn’t a moment of gut wrenching devastation, more a slow burning sadness to a bloated narrative.
The staging is largely well done. The piece opens with an aesthetically attractive scene of Marie in the dance studio with her fellow ballet dancers, all wearing identical long skirts and reflected in the studio’s full length mirrors.
As the story develops, too much time is devoted to Marie displaying her fears; and Lugoboni dances a range of distressed solos which get repetitive as much as she commits to telling the story. It all ends with the couple finally reunited; but having followed the extended focus on grief and loss, the happy ending feels all too brief. At least the live performance of Handel’s Ode for St Cecilia’s Day brings a measure of additional interest to a piece that lacks the desired impact.
|What||New English Ballet Theatre, Peacock Theatre Review|
|Where||Peacock Theatre, Portugal Street, London, WC2A 2HT | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Holborn (underground)|
27 Sep 18 – 29 Sep 18, 19:30 Dur.: 2 hours inc one 20 mins interval
|Website||Click here to book via Sadler's Wells website|