ABT Studio Company, Linbury Studio Theatre, London

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The Independent Culture

American Ballet Theatre's (ABT) Studio Company is a training ground; a company of fledglings. The dancers are aged between 16 and 20, and most have just graduated.

American Ballet Theatre's (ABT) Studio Company is a training ground; a company of fledglings. The dancers are aged between 16 and 20, and most have just graduated. They spend one or two years with the troupe, gaining exposure and stage experience, before moving on to ABT or another company. The company comes to Britain as part of an exchange with the Royal Ballet School. Performances are bright and eager; danced with vigour.

This programme starts with two classical set pieces. The pas de six from La Vivandière is a buoyant number, full of bouncy jumps and footwork. I liked Hee Seo's ease in the ballerina role. Her use of the upper body is nuanced; shoulders tilting delicately as she springs sideways. The other dancers jump crisply, but they're less comfortable with the crooked wrists and flirtatious head-tilts of this choreography. Eric Tamm partners neatly.

La Vivandière shows off the company women, with one boy to five girls. Anton Dolin's Variations for Four is a male showcase. Lined up in their separate spotlights, his four soloists look like a boy-band manqué, but they face formidable technical challenges. Alex Wong and Glyn Scott bound through the whiz-bang jumping solos, thoroughly exuberant. Joseph Gatti and Matthew Golding have slower, lyrical roles. They acquit themselves well.

The rest of the programme consists of new ballets. The Studio Company aims to promote choreographers as well as dancers, and commissions a range of new pieces.

Brian Reeder's comic Tea and Temptation gives the dancers a dramatic undercurrent to work with. An upper-class group parade about, mime tea-drinking or croquet, flirt with one another and seduce the servants. Reeder's ballet is too long, and he uses a Schubert piano trio that has much more weight than his dances. His steps emphasise line and deportment, and they're cleanly danced. This young cast are best in the croquet and horse-riding mimes, scampering about the stage. They're more tentative in other dramatic scenes, tending to exaggerate gestures. The exception is Isabella Boylston, who shows dramatic attack as one of the maids. Nicola Curry, as the leading aristocrat, moves with authority.

Cucurrucucu Paloma is an acrobatic duet set to a Brazilian pop song, choreographed by Laura Gorenstein Miller. Boylston and Wong grapple and balance; crouching and leaning against each other. She lifts him as often as he lifts her. Miller's ballet is slight and untidy, but it's appealingly danced.

The evening closes with Hush. Stephen Mills' ballet is set to a movement from a Philip Glass piano concerto. It follows the standard pattern for dances to minimalist movement: dancers moving solemnly in body tights. There are slow duets, with dancers sinking to the floor or stopping in sculptural poses.

Studio Company is for young dancers acquiring polish. This was an outgoing performance, with some stylish moments.

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