Experimenta Bussell in a mixed bag

The New Works | Linbury Studio, London
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The Independent Culture

Thanks to the new 400-seat Linbury Studio in the rebuilt opera house, the Royal Ballet this year presents its statutory batch of new or experimental works in London instead of on tour.

Thanks to the new 400-seat Linbury Studio in the rebuilt opera house, the Royal Ballet this year presents its statutory batch of new or experimental works in London instead of on tour.

Three of the 10 works given are reruns, among which Michael Corder's bitty but pretty dances to Stravinsky's Pulcinella Suite, created on tour last year, had a deserved first London showing. But why anyone should think Ashley Page's moribund Sleeping with Audrey worth exhuming is beyond me. One creation, a duet by Wayne McGregor, was an afterthought added to some performances which I could not catch. Of the six I was able to see, two were worth doing: a better than average result for such presentations.

Jacopo Godani's choreography in Aeon's Run is fluent and lively, attractively varied in both pattern and pace: a thoroughly professional piece. Godani lightens what might otherwise have looked sombre by dressing the cast (four women, four men) in cute identikit outfits of white and purple, and they looked as if they were enjoying their assignments. I would have enjoyed the piece more if Diego Dall'Osto's score, although surprisingly melodic and rhythmic, had not been processed with so much scraping and banging.

Music was a problem, too, in Christopher Wheeldon's There where she loves. Shuffling together four Chopin songs and four by Weill was probably a dodgy idea anyway; they would have needed far better singing to have any hope of working. Within that self-imposed limitation, Wheeldon provided variable but in parts rewarding choreography.

Making a duet for Darcy Bussell in resentful mood with Jonathan Cope to Weill's "Je ne t'aime pas" was brilliant as a change from her usual manner. The best of the Chopin numbers were Jane Burn's spirited solo to "What She Likes," and Bruce Sansom insouciant with a sequence of partners in "Merrymaker". Neat little Alina Cojocaru's duet with Sansom in "Spring" caught varied moods, and Burn's angry beginning to "Surabaya Johnny" showed an unusual side of her.

The other works were not so hot. Matthew Hart, in Acheron's Dream, tries to tell a story devised by Leon Yanni about a man revisiting various women from his past, looking for happy days. But they are so alike in costume and movement that there is no telling mother from wife or mistress. Maybe that was the idea, but it was all singularly boring.

There were, besides, three little snippets, including Siren Song by Poppy Ben David to music by Benjamin Marquise Gilmore, both of them still students. Not very substantial, but what do you expect from beginners? And it did show off Ivan Putrov well as the man beset in turn by three women.

Vanessa Fenton's Ad Infinitum concentrated too much on not always successful ingenuities of partnering. William Tuckett in 3:4 demonstrated that Carlos Acosta, Jonathan Cope and Zenaida Yanovsky can perform ballet steps - which is no surprise, but I looked in vain for any relationship among them or, for that matter, between their sequences and the music - the variations from Schubert's Death and the Maiden quartet.

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