Liv Lorent is not a choreographer afraid of dealing with intensely personal emotions. Her company’s new work Blood, Sweat and Tears, which premiered in Newcastle in January and is now embarked upon a national tour, took shape from her own experiences of becoming a first-time mother and tells of those early joy-and-terror-filled stages of parenthood. As ever with Lorent’s creations, much of her sensual and tender dance movement pierces the heart of real human experience, expressing in simple terms the dynamics and complexities of the landscape of emotions along the parental journey.
Prosper Mérimée’s legendary novel Carmen, aided and abetted by Georges Bizet’s famous opera, has spawned innumerable international dance productions, including the fondly remembered creation by Roland Petit, and the not so fondly remembered version by Mats Ek. The latest incarnation of the story, which arrived at Sadler’s Wells on June 20, following “widespread critical acclaim overseas”, is by the choreographer and director Ramón Oller for the Compañía Metros of Barcelona. The production promised to be the first ever to combine “contemporary dance mixed with flamenco”. That may be so, but I have never before seen a production of Carmen that offers the audience such a dearth of choreographic ideas and dramatic tedium. (Even the Ek production managed to get some kind of audience reaction when performed in London a few years ago.)
Union Dance appeared at the Linbury Theatre on October 14 for one performance only as part of Black History Month. The house was full of enthusiastic young people, and there was an air of anticipation as disco music played over the loudspeakers. Consisting of seven dancers, and directed by Corrine Bougaard, Union Dance aims to “…shift perspectives by exploring and expressing an identity that reflects the growing cultural fusion of contemporary society”.
Such is the popularity of Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon that it is now in the repertoire of a range of companies all over the world. This autumn and winter will see performances of the ballet in Berlin, Milan, Turin, London and Copenhagen. Manon returned to the repertoire of The Royal Ballet on November 4 in an excellently staged and danced revival. Nicholas Georgiadis’ familiar sets and costumes looked magnificent, and were beautifully lit by John B. Read like an old master painting. Leanne Benjamin, who led the first performance, has fully matured into the title role since her debut ten years ago and she successfully places great emphasis on Manon’s youth and impetuosity. Making his debut as Des Grieux that night, Federico Bonelli danced with customary elegance, and his performance was notable for an understated and naturalistic attention to detail. Martin Harvey’s Lescaut is a charming chancer and determined social climber, well matched in a sharply characterised and spirited performance by Laura Morera as Lescaut’s Mistress. This was an excellent company performance, and would have been memorable had it not been completely overshadowed by an incandescent account of the work the following afternoon.
The New York City Ballet did some diamond mining at the New York State Theater (April 25-June 25), when performances featured the sixth Diamond Project, a sporadically offered series of premieres established in 1992 and named after the philanthropist Irene Diamond. Dancegoers, however, tend to regard the balletic “diamonds” as potential theatrical treasures, and they do create excitement. This season, seven choreographers participated and, as I post this notice, not all have staged their works. But let’s take the choreographers thus far one by one.