The Royal Ballet School Summer Performance
The Royal Opera House
Sunday 9th July 2017
For reasons behind my control I am only reviewing the second half of this performance.
The half begins with the testing August Bournonville ballet, The Conservatory (The Dancing School). The curtains swish back to reveal a painterly tableau with dancers artfully arranged across the stage, performing three key sections of the ballet. It’s a test for the students and not always successful in the adagio sections but they show grit and determination.
Much more powerfully danced was Solo, by Hans van Manen. Contemporary in style, the three male graduates tackled the continuous movement with aplomb, particularly Jerome Barnes who has an inate musicality to add to the tilt and shift of the piece. Praise too, to Joshua Junker and Augustus Payne. Barnes is off to Scottish Ballet, Junker to The Royal Ballet and Payne to Birmingham Royal Ballet.
See Blue Through by Didy Veldman is another contemporary ballet which has unexpectedly been a hit of the show, rapturously received by the audience. Exquisitely danced by 2nd year students Katharina Nikelski and Harris Bell, the choreography has the pair dancing a pas de deux with their clothes. Yes, there’s a quite heart-stopping moment when Bell holds the back of Nilelski’s dress as she slowly lowers herself bodily to the floor. At other times she is covered by his top and he cradled her, cocooned within the fabric. It’s inventive and it works, not least because of the superb dancing and strong connection between this pair.
Concerto, by Kenneth MacMillan, blasts a full orange beam out from the stage. In the first movement, Royal Balled bound Sae Maeda and 2nd year student Harrison Lee set the pace. In the Second Movement, 2nd year student Yu Hang danced with graduate Nicholas Landon. Precise, with beautiful feet, Hang is one to watch.
And so to the Grand Defile, which always punctuates the show not just with a full stop but with the dancing equivalent of firecrackers. Wave after wave of dancers showcasing ever more technical feats roll over the stage until the final unstoppable tidal wave, where every student is lined up on stage. Ear plugs are not optional.
This performance was skilfully produced, ambitiously programmed and confidently delivered.