Images of Dance
'Raymonda Variations', 'The American', 'Spielende Kinder', 'Façade'
July 4, 2004 -- Peacock Theatre, London
Images of Dance, the graduation year ballet company from the London Studio Centre, put on a very enjoyable evening of dance on Sunday. Their programme was ambitious and well balanced and included pieces made for them by Christopher Wheeldon and William Tuckett. This was a very exciting programme with some very high quality choreography.
The first piece was Balanchine’s "Raymonda Variations", a tough and technically difficult opener. The dancers came through it well enough though it was a rather careful account. What was most impressive was the ensemble work for the women. The dancers were impeccably in time and in line, something that some other companies could learn from. The solos were in the main very well done. Stand out dancers for me were Amy Thake in the third solo where she impressed with her style and strength, and Akane Yobikawa in the sixth. The leading couple were Mika Aoi, who is a delicate, appealing dancer and was also eye catching in both the Wheeldon piece and in "Façade’s" Polka, and William Marshall Ellis who had a very calm and gracious stage presence.
"The American" is Christopher Wheeldon’s creation for the company, staged by Jane Burn, to Dvorak’s piece of the same name. According to the programme notes, Dvorak was inspired by the space and tranquillity of the American prairies and the choreography reflected this with all of Wheeldon's usual fluency and fluidity. The piece was full of sweeping arabesques and arching lifts, and its hypnotic plasticity gave a feeling of serenity and joy. The eight dancers looked wonderful in this and performed it very well, and there was a particularly beautiful pas de deux for Mika Aoi and Brendan Bratulic. The piece looked gorgeous with atmospheric lighting and simple but effective costumes in yellow and orange. Very impressive indeed.
The second, contrasting, creation followed: William Tuckett’s "Spielende Kinder" to music by Carl Orff. In the work, Tuckett depicts that kind of no man’s land between childhood and experience, when young people suddenly become aware of themselves, their bodies and each other. Tuckett effectively shows us bullying, isolation, boys and girls circling each other shyly, youthful exuberance and the off balance, out of kilter feeling that adolescence arouses.
The piece finally gave the men something substantial to do and the dancers looked to be enjoying themselves hugely. The choreography looked deceptively simple but conveyed a lot with moments of beauty and pathos among the robust playfulness. It was set against the bare back wall of the stage with stark lighting, which added to the often unsettling atmosphere of the piece. The only thing I didn’t like were the fairly inappropriate costumes. The dancers were dressed in extremely childish looking school uniforms which didn’t do the adults wearing them any favours at all.
A joyful "Façade" ended the evening to a great reception. This was an ambitious and high quality programme, which the students really made work. Congratulations to them and good luck for their future careers.
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