The first National Youth Dance Company was formed in 2012 in response to public outcry that there was a National Youth Orchestra, National Youth Theatre but no dance company.
Each year since, Sadler’s Wells has invited a guest Artistic Director to inspire a selected group of talented young dancers with an original choreography to be performed at Sadler’s Wells.
This year’s guest Director is Associate Artist of the London dance house, Michael Keegan-Dolan, whose work In Nocentes aims to capture the bravery of youth in contrast to the staid and constrained world of adulthood.
The hour long piece, danced to a re-composition of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, is a whirlwind of light and shade that incorporates the 40-strong troupe working both as a team and showcasing their individual talents in a variety of dance genres from hip-hop to ballet.
The performers’ abundant energy gives Keegan-Dolan’s work a great sense of liberation and total lack of inhibition. The piece begins with all forty performers sat motionless in a semi-circle on the blank stage in a kaleidoscope of colourful costumes. As the score, wonderfully played by the Southbank Sinfonia, slowly builds there are charismatic moments of individual freestyling, a loose-hipped salsa dancer and energetic contemporary artist are quick to catch my eye however this piece really comes alive when the music intensifies, filling the auditorium, and the group move as one unit giving a powerful and unrestrained performance.
For every moment like this, there is a moment of subdued calm with slow and deliberate movements highlighting the marked contrast in the cautioned behaviour of the adults and the instinctive movement of the young. There’s a instance where one female dancer stands away from the crowd and starts to whip her loose hair around and around, another then copies her, then another, then another to created a joint moment of spirited and free movement between them.
The troupe’s energy level is hugely impressive throughout with the aspiring b-boys and street-dancer’s remaining fresh and lively until the very end. The resulting standing ovation is immediate and unrelenting and rightly so as the elation and joy shown by these young performers is certainly worth it.
Review by Vikki Omweng
A Sadler’s Wells production
National Youth Dance Company
In – Nocentes
WORLD PREMIERE (followed by national tour)
Sadler’s Wells, EC1R 4TN
Thursday 7 April at 7.30pm
This year’s line-up of the National Youth Dance Company (NYDC), the country’s flagship organisation for young dancers, performs a new creation by the company’s Guest Artistic Director Michael Keegan-Dolan, an Associate Artist of Sadler’s Wells. The work entitled In – Nocentes receives its world premiere on Thursday 7 April at Sadler’s Wells, which is followed by a national tour in June and July.
Set to Max Richter’s re-composition of The Four Seasons by Vivaldi, performed live by Southbank Sinfonia, this new NYDC commission is a ritualistic piece with which Keegan-Dolan celebrates the natural and instinctive way in which young people can move and behave.
The Latin root nocens implies “harm”. As we grow older we become accustomed to living cautiously – but the title In – Nocentes denotes the confidence of youth to open oneself to a situation without reservation or fear. While this might appear risky, it also creates the possibility for something wonderful to unfold. This sublimely musical work sees Richter’s recomposed Vivaldi score permeate the bodies of the dancers, which display rhythmical, vibrant and natural movement. The choreography excavates the score to reveal hidden percussive elements, while maintaining an aesthetic simplicity.
Confirmed tour dates (with further dates TBC):
Sunday 26 June: Lakeside Arts Centre, Nottingham
Saturday 3 July: Dance City, Newcastle
Sunday 4 July: Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre, Leeds
Friday 8 July: The Lowry, Salford
Tuesday 19 July: Jerwood Dance House, Ipswich
Thursday 21 July: Falmouth University
Saturday 23 July: Mac, Birmingham