Never mind the Boleros

DANCE

Cancelling a work between dress rehearsal and first night does not inspire confidence in a company showcasing at the Festival Hall. When English National Ballet announced on stage that, owing to injury, Matthew Hart's new ballet Blitz would not be part of its triple bill this week, the first reaction was sympathy for the 23-year-old choreographer, robbed of seeing his WW2 piece on stage yet again. (Its regional premiere last month didn't happen either.) But why no understudy? Following the ruthless campaign of artistic director Derek Deane to cut out dead wood and upgrade the corps with foreign talent, ENB is full of potential soloists. Ballet is fraught with risk and every production must have a Plan B. One injury seems like a lame excuse for bad planning.

In place of Blitz we had company member Patrick Lewis's Unrequited Moments, a short ballet for two couples that lived up to its yukky title. To a lush orchestral piece by Walton, Girl Number 1 (Lisa Pavane) goes cool on her man (Greg Horsman) until, seeing him happily grafted onto Girl 2, the tiresome hussy spends the rest of the ballet trying to get him back. This presents the choreographic conundrum of a pas de deux with the man as unwilling partner, Pavane forcing Horsman through the supporting motions, managing some brilliant mid-air swivels without his full compliance. But technical cleverness fails to lift the piece above the emotional level of a teen-mag photo-romance.

The programme change uncomfortably overlaps with the programme's published highlight, the first work for ballet by the ice-skater Christopher Dean. Encounters is also about romantic comings and goings, this time in scenes loosely based on Dean's life. For most of the audience the characters triggered instant recognition: step-mum, first wife, current wife, not forgetting the skating partner.

Just as debutant film-makers will string together a series of disparate images using their favourite rock tracks, Dean turns to the greatest hits of Paul Simon for a handy personal narrative. The whistles and applause in a live recording of "The Sound of Silence" are acknowledged by the Dean character (Thomas Edur) as his own; "Mother and Child Reunion" is just what it says; "Still Crazy After All These Years" cues in a nostalgic ice-rink duet with the Torvill figure, Edur flinging her to the floor in that familiar floor-skimming spin, or swirling her body from his hip like a sail.

The drama is simplistic, the characters are mere ciphers, yet the choreography is full of enjoyable, unpretentious invention that suggests the ballet world could learn much from Christopher Dean if it keeps an open mind. Who but an outsider could ask classical dancers to move to reggae? Dean has successfully transposed the fluidity of ice-dance to the stage, and from this judge it gets straight sixes.

London is at present in the throes of a Brazilian festival featuring the mineral-rich state of Minas. Foremost among its exports - after gold nuggets - is its large and hugely popular contemporary dance company Grupo Corpo. Formed 20 years ago by siblings of the Pederneiras family, its choreography is still solely produced by Rodrigo Pederneiras. His Enigma Variations had its British premiere at Sadler's Wells last week, and what an enigma it turned out to be.

Rather than take his cue from Elgar's mythical characterisations (as Ashton did) Pederneiras goes for a personal interpretation of each variation: romantic, mysterious or playful by turns. All well and good, but then he reshuffles the pack. Grand, lyrical variations prompt goosey waddles and froggy hops, mysterious ones the boogying bottom-wiggle of a cocktail- party hostess. Only the famously sublime "Nimrod" drops the irony in a sexy pas de deux that's big on arched backs and splayed legs, but hangs on to the duck feet as if to avoid unfavourable comparisons with ballet.

Things looked up with an acid-bright, fiesta-inspired number called 21. Its catchy aerobics in 7/4 time had the audience itching to get up there and let rip. And if Grupo Corpo ever needs to top up its funds, it could make a fortune flogging men's floral leggings.

Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Jenny Lee may have left, but Miranda Hart and the rest of the midwives deliver the goods

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
music The singer has died aged 70
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams looks concerned as Arya Stark
tv
Arts and Entertainment
photography Incredible images show London's skyline from its highest points
Arts and Entertainment
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
classical
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all