Sunday, 30 September 2018

REVIEW: New English Ballet Theatre - The Four Seasons / Remembrance at the Peacock Theatre

The New English Ballet Theatre (NEBT) is an exciting young dance company in its 7th season and with the endorsement of Dame Darcey Bussell as patron , you can expect captivating and accessible works from them. For this 100th anniversary of the First World War armistice this November they presented Remembrance with choreography from the acclaimed Wayne Eagling and set to the music of Handel's Ode for St Cecilia's Day. It is simple and beautifully told story of Marie Rambert, the founder of the famous Ballet Rambert, and her husband Ashley Dukes who she meets while he was a soldier on leave in 1917. When he is called back to the battle front the Ballet wonderfully explores the fears of the women left behind through dance.

The set design by Nina Kobiashvili uses a combination of mirrors, windows and projection to set the scenes in a London dance studio, Waterloo station and near the battlefield. These simple settings evocatively add and support the dance performed before them and builds to a moving and appropriate finale of remembrance with fields of poppies and red drapes.

Alessia Lugoboni dances Marie Rambert. She captures the love and jealousy of newly marrieds when she dances in front of her new husband with her dance partner Jean Varda (Aitor Viscarolasanga Lopez) but is at her best in the touching sequence in the streets of London and a dream with the women and widows left behind and we feel their grief and sorrow. The scenes are accompanied by the soprano Fflur Wyn singing " so when the last and dreadful hour, the Dead shall live, the living die " which seems so meaningful in remembrance. Her husband is danced by Alexander Nuttall. We see him on the western front writing letters back to her while six men at war dance a balletic military drill. The whole company of fourteen create evocative pictures and the repeated dance moves create a sense of the same interaction between many couples: separation of love, grief from loss and fear of death being repeated across a large population and not just in the leading two of this story. 

It is preceded by a shorter piece based on Vivaldi's The Four Seasons with
choreography by Jenna Lee set to the well known Concerto. With strong lighting design by Andrew Ellis which bathes the large stage in washes of seasonal colour, the company of twelve, create a stunning visual interpretation of the music. The large stage means it works best when the main company is on stage as in the first movement of Summer. Here in a wash of yellow and mauve and in striking red costumes with strong acrobatic synchronised movements we enjoy the hot sexy vibrant summer. Later in Autumn, in washes of brown, 4 women and 2 men interpret the cooler autumnal music. Finally in the Winter in the final movement a striking cold image is created with four dancers in silhouette again the pale blue cyclorama. The alternate movements in each season of fast - slow- fast keeps the piece lively engaging and constantly changing, just like the seasons themselves. 

This is Ballet for all, easy to follow, easy on the eye, and simple story telling through dance all set against some enjoyable classical musical. A great introduction to modern ballet dance and a great tribute in remembrance.

Review by Nick Wayne

Rating: ★★★

Seat: Stalls row k | Price of Ticket: £42
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