This year marks the first time that English National Ballet’s programme for developing choreographers includes contributions from outside the company. Judging by the results, this has provided a healthy creative environment in which ideas can flourish.
Given the theme of post-war America, each of the seven dancemakers represented has made an individual statement – at least three trading off cinema for their imagery. Renato Paroni de Castro’s lively piece channels Anchors Aweigh and On the Town in its depiction of two sailors and the girl between them. Casting twins Vitor and Guilherme Menezes as the sailors adds a distinctive visual dimension.
Morgann Runacre-Temple plunges into film noir with Give My Love to the Sunrise – a tribute to Orson Welles’ The Lady from Shanghai. An ambitious duet, it shifts moods with quicksilver fluidity though, like most of the works here, it fails to reach a climax.
James Streeter’s duet, inspired by the last hours of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, has emotional depth and conveys the ache of imminent loss, while Stina Quagebeur’s similarly intense duet about the destructive relationship between artist Edward Hopper and his wife possesses something of the psychological brutality of Kenneth MacMillan.
Max Westwell’s choreographic debut is the most lyrical and classically based, though the drive-in cinema image drifted out of focus. Fabian Reimair literally frames his dancers in a thoughtful piece about a grieving woman.
But the most impressive work is third-year student Joshua Legge’s Babel, which won ENB School’s 2015 choreographic competition. Honed to perfection, it reveals an fearlessly inventive dancemaker who knows what he wants to say and the best way of saying it.