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Shaker Loops/Cover

A scene from Shaker Loops at the Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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Although its name suggests a classical troupe, Ballet de Lorraine is a contemporary company with what it describes as a “provocative, experimental mindset”. On its first visit to the Linbury Studio Theatre, the evidence for this was uneven, with the two-part programme only partly living up to the claim. It’s true that director Petter Jacobsson commissions new work from younger choreographers – both essential to move dance forward – but much of the evening seems more a series of choreographic workshops, albeit expertly performed, than fully-formed ideas for the stage.

Cover is a big, 60-minute work for 20 dancers by Israeli choreographer Itamar Serussi. It features the large-scale lines and groupings, the absurdities and choreographic non sequiturs, the cross-dressing, digital pop music, apparently casual gestures, and starting before the audience is seated approach favoured in European dance. However, despite impressive commitment from the dancers, Serussi does not draw choreographic and emotional meaning from these parts. Cover is also too long, with the audience clearly restless by the close.

Shaker Loops by Greek dance-maker Andonis Foniadakis fairs better. It is set to the well-known ‘minimalist’ score of the same name by American composer John Adams, and succeeds by sticking close to its compact choreographic ideas. The flow/stall, soft/strong movement language is neatly and methodologically explored, which both pleases the audience and shows the dancers at their best. And at a relatively brief 20 minutes, it leaves you wanting more. This is a key theatrical requirement that the better dance-makers remember.

Dates: March 11-14, PN March 11

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Verdict
Mixed evening of contemporary dance from French troupe on its first visit to the Linbury Studio Theatre
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