I attended a studio performance given by ENBS on Tuesday as part of the Chelsea Festival. Starring mostly almost-graduated seniors, it also found room for several first-years. Four pieces were performed, including Adagio for Strings, created by Antony Dowson, which was seen at the Dame Beryl Grey gala at Sadler's Wells earlier this year.
The evening opened with Suite Caracteristique, choreographed by Jean-Guillaume Bart and with music by Sibelius, which was a piece featuring many of the pupils, with the Sonia Aguilar and Gregory Jordens pdd a standout aspect. They danced so well together it was immediately clear that these two are going to become fine professional dancers. Just how good Sonia Aguilar already is would become clearer as the evening wore on.
After an interval the aforementioned Adagio for Strings was given, with the beautiful and haunting Barber music giving plenty of atmosphere. This is a knockout piece, starring Sonia Aguilar again, that I love which could handle being lengthened, fleshed out and broadened further and given stage-time by the ENB themselves, IMO. Perhaps being so close to the dancers one could almost see too much detail - the details of the dancer's costumes, makeup, etc. whereas being further back in a darker atmosphere improves the piece by making it more ethereal and seamless. BTW, for anyone that's interested I think the boys wear very dark blue leotards, not black!
Then we had Mirror Walkers Pas de Deux by Peter Wright, a classical pdd with Sonia Aguilar and Valentine Olovyannikov, a tall (russian?) dancer with plenty of athleticism and enthusiasm who showed a more sensitive side to his dancing in this partnership. Two daring leaps into his arms were made safely without losing character. Again Aguilar was superb - a dancer able to rise above the technical demands of ballet and project a role to the audience. In one so young, this is highly unusual. If anyone knows where she is going to be dancing once graduating, let me know!
Finally we had the traditional attempt to get as many pupils on stage as possible with a piece called Light Fandango, choreographed by Robert North set to music described as "Traditional Irish and Scottish themes". It was originally created for the Junior Ballet, Conservatoire Ballet in 1997, and my Scottish companion was not very impressed with the French attempt at conveying her country's folk dancing! However, it is a hugely fun piece, without losing the underlying foundation of classical ballet for long and everyone seemed to have a great time dancing it. I would pick out Yuzaburo Murabe as the finest of the male dancers. Several first-years had prominent roles in this one and did themselves great justice.
In summary then, this was a very enjoyable and impressive evening and the ENBS should be proud of their achievements with this year's, and probably next year's crop of graduates. I'm sure most will have no problem finding work and one or two may well go on to become major stars. As we have discussed before, their absence from the Young British Dancer of the Year award inarguably diminishes that event - the dancers on show here would make a massive impact on the top prizes, I believe.
For anyone who might be interested, tickets at £15 and £20 for the ENBS end of year performance on 11th July at the Britten Theatre, Royal College of Music, and a £75 Gala on the 10th July, are still available on 020 7376 7076.