New English Ballet Theatre is a relatively young company and while past performances have suggested it is still finding its feet, its current programme – although a somewhat mixed affair – shows greater assurance and maturity.
Jenna Lee’s The Four Seasons captures all the lightness and drama of Vivaldi’s famous compositions. In runs of quick neat steps the dancers skip lightly across the music and deftly catch at its accents. NEBT’s youthful company eagerly attacks the ambitious lifts, slides and floor-skimming spins scattered through the piece. There are times where the performance becomes a little one-dimensional, but on the whole this is a bright and elegant work danced with precision.
Remembrance is more perplexing. A new work by Wayne Eagling, it opens with the wedding of Marie Rambert (a whirlwind romance, she met her husband on a four day leave during the First World War and married seven months later) then plunges into a generalised narrative that begs the question of why Rambert’s name is attached to it at all.
After her husband returned to fight, Rambert is depicted as a wandering, desolate soul. While the work’s duets are elegantly choreographed and emotively danced, for a woman who lived through two world wars and led a ballet company through the second – a company which, on a shoestring budget, toured relentlessly and this year celebrated its 92nd birthday – it seems an unfitting portrayal.
The trauma of the First World War shouldn’t be downplayed, but here an opportunity to depict a strong woman in ballet is sadly passed over for the age-old portrayal of male despair.
For a company keen to create fresh works with a cast of young and promising dancers, it’s a disappointing.