The Royal Ballet’s Next Generation Festival is a platform for young and early-career dance artists, and a natural home for New English Ballet Theater, founded in 2010 to train young classical dancers, often through newly commissioned choreography. Their very busy program – six works, plus interviews filmed behind the scenes – gives voice to female choreographers. At Ruth Brill’s Domino opens the evening, his chic Mondrian-patterned tunics and Ryuichi Sakamoto’s sharp score lending an elegant modernist vibe; but the dance and the dancers seem awkwardly self-aware among the arcing angles of the jigsaw choreography.
At Daniela Cardim’s Nocturne, a more conventional lyrical-romantic male-female duet, more easily accommodates its performers as they dive, glide and soar into the moonlit turbulence of Chopin’s piano music. But he is Morgann Runacre-TempleRosamunde who first gives the company and the audience something to really chew on. For the sound, Tom Lane places a string quartet by Schubert and his own electronic score in a devious interaction where neither takes quite the upper hand. The hands are also choreographically prominent, placed on the elbows, thighs, flanks or fanning out in the air – sometimes clasps, sometimes tendrils. The groups come together, unfold and recompose themselves in mechanical, botanical and human formations, the dancers separate both the individuals and the parts of the same composite creature.
Solace by Georgie Rose is very promising, especially in its opening section, a male trio floats and crosses ready to Ruby Fulton rhythmic repetitions of the words “I’m sorry/not sorry”. A line of more fluid and grounding female duets opens the door to more familiar neoclassical partnerships and group work, supported by by Roger Goula melancholy string score – but the work, though still assured, loses some of its original purpose.
Choreographed by Kristen McNally, I Can’t Dance is a strangely inhibited film set to a Genesis rock song MOR. Alternately lit and silhouetted, a group of hippie-dressed dancers dance and sway a bit, looking slightly groovy. Excerpts from by Jenna Lee Classy Four Seasons, to Max Richter’s recomposition of Vivaldi, closes the evening with more confidence, giving the dancers ample leeway to shine individually as well as a secure choreographic framework to support them as a group – a way appropriate to highlight the young and diligent company in this busy and very heterogeneous program.