The first of Stuttgart Ballet’s two-programme visit to London is a gala-style mixed bill of no less than 13 short ballets made specifically for the company. Despite the pre-recorded music and plain stage, this is a neat idea, as the packed programme shows off the excellent dancers and demonstrates that the company has long been committed to new work - even if some is of variable quality. From the moment John Cranko took over the company in 1961 until his premature death in 1973, the South African-born artistic director made new ballets - three of which are in the programme. Perhaps the most interesting is the little-seen third movement from Initials RBME (1972) whose influence on the British dance maker Kenneth MacMillan is clear. Also from the 1970s is the duet from John Neumeier’s The Lady of the Camellias, an intensely romantic re-telling of the famous Alexandre Dumas story.
Alicia Amatriain and Jason Reilly in Le Grand Pas De Deux from Made In Germany by Stuttgart Ballet at Sadler's Wells Photo: Tristram Kenton
The remainder of the programme is from the 1990s and 2000s, and reflects the priorities of European ballet in the period. All are athletic, with body shape and physical dexterity the priority over story-telling. The drama comes from the physical extremes and ingenuity of the chorography and, in this respect, the influence of American-born choreographer, and one-time Stuttgart dancer, William Forsythe is evident. Unexpectedly, there is also humour, with Christian Spuck’s Le Grand Pas de Deux (1999) spoofing ballet’s sacred cows. However, the quiet hit of the evening is Edward Clug’s Sssss, a sombre solo that shows off the charismatic dancer Pablo von Sternenfels.