Thursday, 19 November 2015

Royal New Zealand Ballet's A Passing Cloud

The Anatomy of a Passing Cloud/ Dear Horizon/ Passchendaele/ Selon Désir, Royal New Zealand Ballet, Linbury Studio Theatre @ ROH - reviewed on 17th November

The Royal New Zealand Ballet presented a disappointing quadruple bill at the Linbury Studio Theatre. I reviewed and really enjoyed the company at the Barbican in 2011, but was left sadly uninspired this time.

Mayu Tanigaito in Dear Horizon
Photo: Ellie Richards
In Javier de Frutos's The Anatomy of a Passing Cloud, 11 dancers commenced in a circle, bowing their heads in turn towards a central dancer. Then celebrating the culture of New Zealand, the piece moved through a series of varied but very episodic scenes accompanied by disjointed segments of local music - from singing by the Yandall Sisters to spoken word and Maori percussion. The most interesting choreography had a touch of humour, such as when a female dancer bounced up and down between two men as if on an invisible trampoline, and when another dancer giggled and stepped back just in time to avoid a fellow performer's kick jump.

The evening's two centrepieces were created for a programme commemorating the centenary of the Gallipoli landings earlier this year. Gareth Farr's commissioned score for Dear Horizon provided more interest than Andrew Simmons' classically-inspired choreography, though the moment when six men fell simultaneously backwards into their partners' arms stood out for its beauty. Neil Ieremia's Passchendaele was the bill's shortest piece (at just 11 minutes) and the most successful choreographically. In its emotive ending, female dancers embraced their male partners while they fell to the floor, before leaving their (dead) bodies motionless onstage as the final bars of music played.

The evening's conclusion - Selon Désir, which was originally created for the Ballet du Grande Théâtre de Genève - was my least favourite work. It featured a chaotic stream of rapidly swirling and leaping dancers (and their free-flowing hair) that was at odds with the accompanying Bach choral score, though it was performed with conviction and boundless energy by the company.

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