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Ballet British Columbia review at Sadler’s Wells, London – ‘a timely female-led programme’

Crystal Pite's Solo Echo at Sadler's Wells, London. Photo: Wendy D Crystal Pite's Solo Echo at Sadler's Wells, London. Photo: Wendy D

During a week in which one Canadian ballet company announce a programme of work choreographed solely by men on, quote, the “subject of Woman”, another Canadian company, Ballet British Columbia, embarks on its first UK tour with a timely female-led programme.

While ‘ballet’ may be in the company’s name this is not ballet in the traditional sense. The dancers are classically strong and in director Emily Molnar’s opening work, 16+ a Room, the women wear pointe shoes. However the movement is fluid and weighted, and Molnar shows her dancers are as at ease on the floor as in elevation.

Filled with off-balance tilts, high extensions and running slides, 16+ a Room is undeniably stylish. Periodically, dancers bring on boards reading “this is a beginning” and “this is not an end”.

Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar’s Bill is more quirky and comical. To the rapid beat of Ori Lichtik’s music they execute precise, athletic movements with a droll, mechanical quality. Bill is a physically articulate piece and its eccentricity is entertaining, but it quickly become repetitive.

While all three pieces are technically strong, it is only Crystal Pite’s Solo Echo that truly dazzles. Choreographically, it feels as if Pite has taken a breath and then let it out in one continuous, 20-minute exhalation. One movement shifts intuitively in to the next. It’s mesmerising. The whole piece feels like one fluid, endless motion. Delicate as its backdrop of falling snow, Solo Echo is exquisitely danced.

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Crystal Pite’s piece stands out in a mixed triple bill by a dynamic, high-calibre company of dancers