Black & White, Coliseum, London

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The Independent Culture

Serge Lifar's Suite en Blanc opens with an image of a ballet company. The dancers are posed in serried ranks, in plain tights and white tutus. It's a large-scale showcase – but it needs more clarity and confidence than English National Ballet show us.

Danced to music by Édouard Lalo, Lifar's ballet is a series of virtuoso numbers. At this performance, the company work doggedly through the classroom steps, tending to miss their chic or bravura flourishes.

Individual soloists do shine. Elena Glurdjidze is strong in the pas de trois, but her two partners struggle to keep up. Vadim Muntagirov soars through his mazurka variation, while Nancy Osbaldeston shows a distinctive personality in the pas de cinq. Others show potential, but need more precision, and more wit.

Between the demands of box office and their touring schedules, ENB can't often present mixed bills. So it seems rather greedy of director Wayne Eagling to stuff this one with two of his own ballets. Resolution is a murky response to Mahler's Rückert-Lieder, sung by Elizabeth Sikora. Dancers grapple and mope to the plangent woodwind, or are carried around in displays of transcendence. It's a weak and melodramatic ballet.

Men Y Men, created to balance the company's often female-dominated repertory, was under-rehearsed. There's a lack of authority in Eagling's boy-band posing, though Yat-Sen Chang stands out for commitment.

The new Vue de l'Autre, by company dancer Van Le Ngoc, is a wafty sentimental work, with couples clasping roses or waving scarves. It's the best-danced work on the bill, with Muntagirov and Daria Klimentová showing clean technique and human warmth among the waffling.

Catching at the movie's popularity, ENB threw in an extra Black Swan pas de deux – Erina Takahashi even has eye makeup like Natalie Portman's. She's a strong dancer, whipping cleanly through the fouettés, but her emphasis on technique loses the dance's drama.