A long-running complaint in the dance world is that there are insufficient opportunities for fledgling dance makers to practise their craft. Part of this is that ballet has historically been a big-scale art form performed on big stages, which is understandably difficult for newcomers to take on. There are, however, an increasing number of smaller spaces and dance troupes, as well as schools and festivals, that provide opportunities, including the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio Theatre which is staging this mixed bill of new work co-commissioned with the Royal Ballet’s resident choreographer Wayne McGregor.
Edward Watson, Paul Kay and Eric Underwood in Alpha Episodes at the Linbury Studio, London Photo: Tristram Kenton
His influence, both stylistic and intellectual, is evident in the three works on show, which are described in the programme in scholarly detail (Alexander Whitley quotes the anthropological thinker Tim Ingold). Their style bears the contemporary focus on body shape and athleticism, as well as the articulation and extension of the limbs that might be likened to the serifs and elaborations of typefaces and fonts. None told stories in the conventional sense.
Instead, all three were plotless works. All were ably staged and dance, with Whitley and Binet creating ensemble pieces for the dancers of McGregor’s own troupe, and Mangiola crafting a pas de trois for the Royal Ballet’s Paul Kay, Eric Underwood and Edward Watson. Working with such good dancers is a great opportunity, and each brimmed with ideas. The only criticism is that each work was perhaps too long - each started well, and ended well, but flagged in the middle. Sustained choreographic effort is a challenge.