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Dance review: Draft Works, Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House


Draft Works is a platform for new choreography, works created by dancers of The Royal Ballet and associate artists.

It’s a stripped-down programme of works in progress, danced in practice clothes with simple lighting. Budding and more experienced choreographers try things out; young dancers show their mettle in works created for them. For this year’s programme, the Linbury studio was set up with the audience on two sides, giving the choreographers an extra challenge.

V­āc II, the boldest of the new works, was created by associate choreographer Mayuri Boonham, who trained in the classical Indian form Bharata Natyam. With imposing stage presence, Fumi Kaneko curls into stark poses, holding one arm curved with splayed hands. There are touches of classical Indian style in the set and tilt of her head. Sander Blommaert waits in a sitting balance, until Kaneko pulls him out of himself. Boonham creates vivid contrasts between taut, airy steps and grounded moves, pressing into the floor.

Exordium, by Royal Ballet dancer Ludovic Ondiviela, has a lot of goofy charm. Dancers whizz through speedy gestures, with chattering mime emphasis. Brian Maloney looks for wonders while a group of women go their own ways. Hayley Forskitt keeps touching Kristen McNally’s shoulder, as if trying to get her attention, only to be shrugged off.

The Royal Ballet has had a shortage of women choreographers, on the main stage and even in the Draft Works series. This year’s programme was more balanced. McNally created two lucid new duets. She joins Hayley Forskitt for a witty café confrontation, full of snappy poses and drama queenery. Her duet for Forskitt and Nicol Edmonds is gentler, the dancers standing to listen or winding softly around each other.

Nathalie Harrison’s Gallery sends four dancers strolling around a space, peering as if at paintings before flowing into their own trains of thought. Romany Padjak is lifted and rocked, but her attention remains elsewhere.

Orbital Motion, by Valentino Zucchetti, is a larger-scale work that sends its dancers spinning in circles to Philip Glass, the dancing aimed at both sides of the audience. Zucchetti makes fluent use of a bigger cast, with steps and groupings suggesting the influence of Christopher Wheeldon.

Robert Binet’s Aerial View has a melancholy, reflective tone. In her opening solo, Francesca Hayward, who moves with smooth moves and juicy footwork. All that is solid melts into air, by associate Alexander Whitley is a more formal pas de deux; though Melissa Hamilton wraps herself around Dawid Trzensimiech, she does it in clean academic steps.

Until 26 April. Box office 020 7304 4000