Sadler’s Wells, London
Guest Reviewer: Bhakti Gajjar
The National Youth Ballet (NYB) celebrated the end of its 2015 season with a Gala programme at Sadler’s Wells and the home of dance provided the ideal setting for some of Britain’s most promising young talent. Featuring 11 distinct pieces, each created by a young choreographer, the programme highlighted the breadth of abilities honed by each member of the company.
Over half of the show comprised dances that were being shown for the first time, each offering a completely different perspective. The Sighing (Jo Meredith) narrates the relationship between a soldier in the First World War and his lover at home, through a letter and powerful yet muted choreography. At the other end of the spectrum, Jamie Neale’s Trotters, featured elaborate costumes, staging and energetic dance, set to a live performance from the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. Venn from Eleanor Marsh, a contemporary, fluid and vibrant piece of work is also worth mentioning.
A highlight was Arielle Smith’s Athena, presenting a twist on the classic story of Giselle, set within a dark underworld and blending elements of jazz, contemporary and street dance to unforgettable effect. Outstanding performances by Bryony Harrison and Chris Thomas suggest that both dancers have promising futures ahead.
Wonderful to witness was the evolution of dance excellence through the ages. Performances such as Lavender’s Blue (Anna Meadmore), which featured younger dancers skipping gaily to a sprightly soundtrack of nursery rhymes, contrasted with more complex and challenging performances by the older members of the company in the programme.
A stellar performance by three of the NYB’s alumni, Rock n Roll (Jenna Lee), illustrated nicely how high these young dancers can go (quite literally, given the height of the dancers’ jumps and lifts) and would no doubt have provided much inspiration to the young troupe.
The evening closed with a performance of Wayne Sleep’s Cinderella, which played to the youthfulness of the dancers. Spirited mice, lizards and the Ember Fairies were a delight, while the leads did a wonderful job in the well-established roles of Cinderella, Prince Charming and the Ugly Sisters.
Cinderella offered a strong end to a varied and creative programme, supporting the conclusion of NYB Founding Director Jill Tookey and Patron Joanna Lumley, that the future of Britain’s ballet looks bright indeed.