At the height of the Cold War, Ninette de Valois, the founder of the Royal Ballet, set up a ballet company on Soviet Russia's doorstep. The Istanbul State Ballet Company and the Ankara State Ballet Company are the descendants of Valois's Turkish State Ballet, and they made their first visit to London as part of the Royal Ballet's anniversary.
The evening starts with a brisk and often funny filmed tribute to Valois and an excerpt from At the Fountainhead, which she created for the Turkish State Ballet in 1964. Volkan Ersoy and Almula Ozlem dance a duet that draws on folk dance - the woman on pointe, but with sinuous moves for arms and torso.
In Sacrifice, a couple quarrel and make up to Chopin before a second pair dance a sleeker, more abstract duet. Ugur Seyrek's choreography fits the music oddly: when the dancers crawl, they move to each note, but display little sense of the phrasing. The first duet is danced with vigour, with spontaneous slaps and squabbles.
Rosegarden, a duet from a longer work, starts with Arzu Dirin balanced on Arkin Zirek's shoulders. The partnering is carried out with aplomb.
Two dances from Beyhan Murphy's Travelogue are the most striking. As Halit Ergenc reads a text by Orhan Pamuk describing a storm, dancers circle each other, moving in big, melancholy groups. In the second section, there are dervishes and dancers wrapped in quilts, who whirl and yell as a priestess stalks through them. The quilted men suggest children using bedding to play at tents. It ends with the men lying at the priestess's feet and becoming a boat that she punts along with a pole. Each time she strikes the floor, men around her heave and roll forwards.
Seyrek's Menu of the Day shows off the fluid speed and strength of Berk Saribay and Erhan Guzel, who plant themselves in deep pliés, swinging arms and swaying torsos with silky precision. This programme includes several other male duets, all strikingly relaxed.
Mehmet Balkan's Rachmaninoff Creation is a joys-of-spring number with Soviet-style male solos, silhouette lighting and lots of green chiffon. The dancers show sharp attack in classical choreography, putting more weight on crisp execution than on line. The partnering here is terrific: a whole corps of women are floated on, held so securely that they look weightless.Reuse content