• Naomi Cockshutt

New English Ballet Theatre Quint-essential: Five New Ballets

November 9, 2016 | Peacock Theatre


New English Ballet Theatre © Patrick Baldwin


Celebrating their fifth anniversary New English Ballet Theatre (NEBT) return to the Peacock Theatre with fourteen dancers to present a programme of five newly commissioned ballets accompanied by a live orchestra.


Since their founding in 2011 by Artistic Director Karen Pilkington-Miksa, the neoclassical company, whose success has been made possible by generous supporters, now have a library of no less than sixteen new works. Performing across a diverse range of spaces; from the Linbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera House to being featured in Latitude Festival’s 2016 lineup, NEBT’s mission to nurture young professionals, whether that be dancers, choreographers, musicians or designers continues to flourish.


A short film introducing each piece allowing the choreographer to explain their novel creation and show rehearsal footage is the format of the evening. Opening and set to music by Nathan Halpern and Yann Tiersen, Royal Ballet Soloist Marcelino Sambé, presents his debut piece for the company, Land of Nod. Created for four dancers, Sambé’s work explores the female subconscious, portrayed by dancer Hannah Sofo who is partnered by three male dancers, two in her dream and one post-awakening.


In another dream-inspired creation, English National Ballet’s Associate Artist George Williamson presents Strangers, a work which delves into the different stages of a broken relationship; a concept illustrated by three dancing couples. The silence in which the movement begins, is interrupted by Brahms' Piano Sonata in E Minor Opus 38 First Movement performed by Normandy-born pianist Anne Lovett with cellist Anna Menzies. More alluring than the choreography are Designer Andrew Ellis array of suspended light bulbs, which sway en cloche and beam with purpose, helping the audience follow the action and focus their attention on the couple telling that moment of the story.


Concluding Act 1, Royal Ballet Soloist Kristen McNally’s Moonshine to Alexandre Desplate’s The Grand Budapest Hotel Original Film Score medley is felicitous with the film’s comedy genre. McNally’s absurd folk ensemble which attempts to explore a person’s journey, features eight cast members dressed in striped pyjamas dancing to the distinctive sound of the Russian stringed musical instrument, the balalaika.


Following the interval, Royal Ballet Soloist and previous Ursula Moreton Choreographic Competition winner Valentino Zucchetti showcases his second commission for the company, a quintet to Rachmaninoff’s Trio élégiaque No. 1 in G minor. Exploring the destructive themes of temptation and desire on two relationships, the work is duly entitled Enticement’s Lure. Well-rehearsed and well-suited to the long limbed and elegant dancers, Zuchetti’s style is encouraging. His choreographic shapes in the partnered lifts and holds are evocative to a MacMillan pas de deux.


The final piece Vertex is choreographed by Company Manager and Ballet Mistress Daniela Cardim, who began choreographing during her eleven-year career as a dancer with Dutch National Ballet. Her neoclassical three-movement ballet, accompanied by the Gildas Quartet playing fellow Brazilian Camargo Guarnieri’s String Quartet No. 2 features contrasting and dynamic cast formations. Cardim’s fierce, yet refined movement with April Dalton’s vibrantly coloured backdrops, both inspired by the drawings of Royal Academy of Arts abstract sculptor Ann Christopher, deliver a collaborative spectacle which is danced with precision, an enjoyable finale.


The company is no doubt a choreographic playground for emerging creatives, for some whom have already made a name for themselves through the Royal Opera House’s Draft Works initiative for example. The creative opportunity which it gives its young dancers to develop their professional performing careers’ is valuable, yet their strong technically capabilities should be put to use more and as their mission states ‘drive ballet forward’.


Published on londondance.com

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© Naomi Cockshutt 2019

Photography by Trish Patel