Mixed Bill

The brain child of former magazine editor Jill Tookey, the NYB was founded in 1988 to nurture young dancers and to give then on-stage experience in a sympathetic environment. Judging by the number who have gone on to major companies something is going terribly right.

Performed at the EM Forster Theatre in Tonbridge, Kent, the mixed bill provided a varied showcase that suffered only from a surfeit of talent – simply too many feet to follow. But the overall impression is impressive.

Lavender’s Blue was a winsome bucolic romp whose central character Katie Burton displayed real performing chops once she shed her face-covering-bonnet.

Antony Dowson’s premiere of Feeling Groovy, set to the music of Paul Simon , was a clean, crisp and vivid exploration of boy/girl relationships danced with finesse and electric verve, notably Richard Chappell and Eloise Shepherd-Taylor’s Baby Driver. And I enjoyed Molly Jennings’ flirtatious depiction of the irrepressibly naughty Cecelia.

The Captain Beaky ballet, choreographed by Donna Phillips to the Jim Parker/Jeremy Lloyd song cycle, was an anthropomorphic ballet without which no NYB performance would be complete. The costumes were spectacular, with a sextet of snails, give frogs, moths and a rather splendid Harold prancing in joyous synchronisation. Isabella Vargiu pretty well stole the show as Blanche The Baby Owl and the tango sequence was quite raunchy.

The highlight was undoubtedly the premiere of Ballet Chocolat, choreographed by 19 year old Andrew McNicol, based on Joanne Harris’ best selling novel and set to Rachel Portman’s score of the film. It had real narrative momentum with every emotion and twist and turn of the story clearly conveyed through dance and gesture. Max Maslen’s Reynaud was outstanding revealing a spectacular technique.

NYB holds a gala evening at Sadler’s Wells on September 11 when you can spot the stars of tomorrow.

Neil Norman