First Drafts, Royal Ballet, Clore Studio, 14 May 2001
The series of new works presented in Covent Gardenís smaller performing spaces continued yesterday with First Drafts - new work made by Royal Ballet dancers, including some with little or no previous choreographic experience. The setting was the intimate space of the Clore: it was free, and predictably packed. Iím sure they could have filled it several times over. It was a very mixed bag: seven short works in the first half, and a longer more ambitious piece in the second. A great opportunity to get a good look at some of the newer and more junior members of the company.
The items in the first half were:
Three against him, by Antoine Jully (Gartside, Maloney, Meisner, Stepanek)
Chairs I - IV, William Tuckett (Tuckett, Heydon)
Eternal Presence, Nicole Ransley (Crawford, Hewitt, Low: Drew Tirado, Meissner)
Acrid Avid Jam, Ashley Page (Morera, Jarkko Lehmus - guesting)
Sans Repose, Ernst Meisner (Oughtred)
Solo, Tuckett (Yanowsky)
Night Falls Fast, Marriott (Murphy, Galeazzi: Harvey)
Iím not convinced the Page should have been included (although it was very well performed) - it has already been seen at the Linbury done by the National Youth Dance Company, and itís not as if Page has been short of opportunities. Iíd rather the slot had gone to someone having a first attempt. But I suppose the same could be said about Tuckett too. However I was really taken by Chairs: it isnít really dance as such, more mime and a series of visual gags. Two blokes, two chairs, signalling madly, and beautifully fitted to the music. It depended much on the facial expressions of the two performers - it worked fine in the intimate space but would have got completely lost in a large one. Very popular, lots of laughs.
Of the others, Jullyís work showed off its cast nicely and looked well put together. The best of the bunch was Marriottís Night Falls Fast: we ought to see more work from him. Heís been with the company for some time, and does some character roles (best of the current crop of Widow Simones, I think) but this is his first work for the company. Mara Galeazzi and Sian Murphy in rather distressed lingerie look as if they are at some interestingly decadent 1920s house party: thereís a series of encounters with Martin Harvey (also seemingly in his underwear) where the balance of power and attraction shifts uneasily and itís not clear who is leading who on or to what end, except that itís a rather creepy one. Nicely danced, and Marriott seemed ready to have made a coherent piece that worked - not just translated a narrative into steps, or come up with moves and strung them together.
The second half was Frozen, by Vanessa Fenton, who produced an interesting work for last years New Work season at the Linbury. Iím pleased she has had a further chance. Frozen is not yet finished: there is a missing section. Fenton has plans for designs, but these have not yet been realised. It may be rather unfair to pass too much comment at this point, but it would be good to see the work completed. It is set to Purcell (I wish there was a bit more detail available). It opens and closes to When I am laid in earth: this is very ambitious music to take on, and I wasnít sure at the opening whether it would work. However, I thought the closing number was particularly affecting and well done. There are some lovely moments in this, in particular for Chloe Davies and Martin Harvey, and also for a gigglesome threesome - Samantha Raine, Marianella Nunez, Naomi Reynolds. Very promising.