Balletmoves, The Orchard, Dartford

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The Independent Culture

In fact, the programme is let down by this insistence on the new. These are fine dancers in weak choreography. A duet from Alexei Ratmansky's 2002 Cinderella is one of the party pieces. The Kirov dancer Irina Golub is an elegant, appealing Cinders, well partnered by Andrej Merkuriev, but Ratmansky's steps are aimless and dull.

Noah Gelber's new Object Ours was an unexpectedly wispy number. Gelber danced with William Forsythe's Frankfurt Ballet. His new trio is a world away from Forsythe's fast, aggressive dances. Natasha Oughtred, Anton Pimonov and Ludovic Ondiviela drift and mope. Is it love, is it friendship, is it raining? Whenever Gelber's dancers take hands, they carefully lift their wrists in a decorative curl. The gesture is sugared, not amplified.

Meisner's new work Maybe Living Is What It's About is another trio. Kenta Kura supports Laura McCulloch in a high extension; she flexes feet and ankles with her leg up past her ear. Kura flips her over, and she goes on flexing her feet. Meisner's dances for men are more assured. Kura and Anton Lukovkin move cleanly through academic steps. Paul Gladstone Reid's new chamber score is lively.

Karline Weber's designs surround Meisner's next piece, Scaramouche, set to Milhaud, with bright colour, but it doesn't come into focus. Ondiviela's clown figure is never established as a character.

This was the British premiere of Patrick Delcroix's Sans Réponse, a tiresomely joky duet for two men and four water bottles. One says "oui", the other "non"; they hit the bottles, sit on them, drum with them. Meisner and Thomas Whitehead shout and stamp with a will.

The gala numbers had more polish than the new works. Lukovkin danced Nanou, a solo to a creaking soundtrack by Aphex Twin. Alexei Miroshnichenko's flat choreography is full of tick-tock steps, rocking on the spot, but Lukovkin was crisp and buoyant.

In Ratmansky's Middle Duet, Xenia Dubrovina and Merkuriev stalked about, dipping into tango poses and staring coldly. Dubrovina, too, danced with real bite, snapping her legs through the fast changes of direction.

There have been some cast changes, especially on the Royal Ballet side. Alina Cojocaru, recently injured, did not appear. Neither did Zenaida Yanowsky. On opening night, Wayne Eagling's Duet was dropped. The evening ended with Forsythe's The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, which had some punchy dancing - and some rough edges.

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