New Wimbledon Theatre, London
July 6, 2018
There was a buzz in Wimbledon on this hot summer night. It was not only the English National Ballet School who were on show; tennis fans were out on the streets watching play on huge public screens and football aficionados were filling the pubs to cheer their team on. For ballet fans at the New Wimbledon Theatre the performance was equally exciting and equally world class.
Concerto choreographed by the new Director of Dance, Carlos Valcárcel, is a ballet both beautiful to watch and one that serves its purpose in displaying the wealth of school talent at all levels. It was colour coded from grey to dark blue, designating the three student years, but the work was cleverly coordinated to maintain a fluid structure.
From a simple beginning, a lyrical duet, dancers entered and exited, sometimes filling the stage, at other times just a handful to display whizzing pirouettes or virtuoso leaps. The challenging partnering showed a high degree of professionalism as did the speed and the manner in which they coped with the complex structure. The girls’ footwork in particular was excellent, as were the classical lines and effortless ports de bras. And if the boys have not yet mastered the knack of maintaining perfect corps de ballet lines, they had plenty of other talents to compensate.
Each year the ENBS hosts a student choreographic competition and performances by first and second place winners were a highlight. Molly Hall and Rentaro Nakaaki, both 3rd year students, performed their choreography, 3 years and 4 minutes. It was engaging from the outset as each found an individual trajectory that intermittently hinted at a relationship. The opening soundtrack of a babel of voices lent a fractious edge. In contemporary style and well grounded, their inventive ideas were presented with panache. The second work, a solo by 1st year, Liudmila Loglisci to John Cage’s Sonata 4, was extraordinary in its newness and creativity as she danced with the freshness of the uninhibited.
Dusky Fields, also choreographed by Valcárcel, and set to Celtic music was very easy on the eye. However, a contemporary work of more substance and more in keeping with the current repertoire of the parent company would have made a better match in keeping with the classical offerings.
Aurora’s Wedding is always a good choice and dressed in Nicholas Georgiadis’ costumes in the elegant setting of Peter Farmer’s designs, it allowed the graduating students to present their classical credentials in an entertaining package. Remi Nakano and Yuki Nonaka in the grand pas de deux showed formidable technique and a confident secure partnership. Nakano gave her Aurora solo the necessary precision and charm while Nokana seemed to enjoy every second on stage with soaring elevation and excellent tours.
The school also fielded a fine pair of Bluebirds in Breanna Ford and Rentaro Nakaaki both of whom have landed contracts with English National Ballet next season. A finely proportioned dancer Ford fluttered appealingly while Nakaaki displayed brilliance in his beats and sustaining his quality technique to the final leap. Another young man with huge elevation was Connor Jordan-Collins, dancing Puss in Boots who is off to join Scottish Ballet. Together with Anita Wolleb as the White Cat, they showed keen musicality and a sharp sense of comedy.
The Jewels pas de cinq, had slightly unusual choreography, with more solo work and less linked moments. The music was taken a little slow but Jade Longley managed to bring sparkle to her solo. The Garland Dance, a lively piece of choreography, was delivered with gusto by the 2nd and 3rd years, and the 1st and 2nd years brought the proceedings to a close with the Mazurka. This was an evening for ENBS to be proud of as another class of graduates, professional to their fingertips, move forward, ready to take their places on world stages.