The music was a delight of course, Rachmaninov, Guarnieri and The Four Seasons by Vivaldi. None of them were played live but the Rachmaninov was an old recording which combined pleasingly with the ephemeral atmospherics of the lighting to suggest we were watching scenes from a distant past.
The most thrilling parts of the evening were the first and second movements of The Four Seasons, choreographed by Jenna Lee, where there was a freshness and flow to the choreography. The pas de deux in the Summer section were poised and tender indeed. Unfortunately, this momentum was not sustained during Autumn where the dancing tended to glide during what is a staccato piece for strings, a blending which created dissonance, despite the piercing beauty of the music. Many members of the audience appeared to appreciate this section however so there are obviously different responses to this unusual interpretation.
The Winter movement was clearly intended to be the climax of the evening, the costumes were beautiful, the male racing spins across the stage were fantastic. There was a problem however with a botched mass collision of an exit with an entrance from which the piece did not quite recover.
There were on occasions eight dancers at one time on the confines of the Lilian Bayliss Studio. This did limit expansiveness of movement on stage. The second piece of the night, Vertex by Daniela Cardim, however, dealt with these well, the dancers communicating both agility and nimbleness. It’s a pleasing, tonally sensitive work.
Enticement’s Lure, choreographed by Valentino Zuccheti, did not work quite so well in this space as it did at The Peacock Theatre, where set aesthetics and distance lent more enchantment. It’s a piece about fleeting connections which ends with the dancers as a community of the disconnected. There’s also a seducing woman in a scarlet dress and an injured innocent wearing pale colours who finds empowerment when she manages to push her unfaithful lover away.
Sitting in the centre of the auditorium it was impossible not to see backstage into the wings. It was a warm night but seeing the dancers hanging about there towelling off or drinking from big bottles of water did affect the tone of what was happening on stage. Someone needed to have checked the audience sight lines.
There were some standout dancers. Alexander Nuttall fulfils the role of leading man with a charisma that suggests destiny. Among the women, Giuditta Banchetti is graceful and authentic in her charm while Maria Martins portrays a yearning, poetic quality, which is noticeably different. There’s a fascination with watching both these dancers on stage at the same time.
Review by Marian Kennedy
NEW ENGLISH BALLET THEATRE is one of Britain’s most exciting contemporary ballet companies; run by its visionary founder and Artistic Director Karen Pilkington-Miksa, NEBT specialises in commissioning new work from both established and fast rising choreographers for dancers from the UK and beyond.
Dancers: Giuditta Banchetti, Sarah Farnsley, Giulio Galimberti, Madeleine Green, Maria Martins, Alexander Nuttall, James Parratt, Matthieu Quincy, Hannah Sofo, Seamus Wilkinson.
NEBT: ‘Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Other Modern Ballets’
at: Lilian Baylis Studio
29th June 2017