A most impressive Images Ballet Company, comprised of 8 students in their final year at London Studio Centre, graced the stage at Sadler’s Wells’ Lilian Baylis Studio, presenting four new creations by established choreographers. They faced enormous challenges, not least with stamina, but embraced it all with professionalism and gusto. Jennifer Jackson, the artistic director, has done an excellent job of commissioning appropriate, innovative choreographers, allowing the company to exceed their expectations and take the great leap from school into the often very tough world of dance.
First up was Mikaela Polley’s Interplay, using all 8 dancers. This highly inventive piece was created in collaboration with composer/musician Martin Pyne in real time. Pyne played on stage with drums and other percussion, which heightened the connection between the dancers and music. Wonderful, vibrant dancing alongside many changes of mood made this a feel good piece, showcasing strong personalities and individuality. Daisy Bishop caught my eye with her neat work and expressive face. Pyne also came across as a great performer and during the break between ballets, entertained us, as the dancers removed his instruments one at a time in order to clear the stage.
The second ballet was by up and coming choreographer Andrew McNicol. Mirrors to Ravel’s Une Barque Sur L’océan and Alborado del Gracioso from Miroirs, proves beyond doubt that McNicol is on an ascending path towards establishing a distinctive and recognisable choreographic voice. Using three women, Irene Asunción Orduna, Maria Bruguet González and Tuva Svendsen, they swirled and interweaved like liquid mercury. However, the smooth silkiness of the movement, each of them maintaining decorum unflinchingly, I suspect was cleverly disguising just how strenuous it really was.
The second half started with On Lineage by Cameron McMillan, a fluid, abstract work to music by Ezio Bosso. Eminently danceable – Before Six from Six Breaths, Rain in Your Black Eyes from Music for Weather Elements and Before One from Six Breaths, swept along the dancers once again within solos, duets and as a group, technically challenging but very well executed. It was Orduna that stood out in this one.
Ashley Page’s delightful Meadowdown, to various pieces from Britten’s Diversions for Piano (Left Hand) and Orchestra, was the final ballet of the evening. Pitch perfect for 5 women and a man – it was so skilfully constructed and delivered that I actually felt a shade of disappointment when it finished. The success of the evening as a whole was, in part, because the students had clearly taken on board the quality of each piece of choreography and how privileged they were to have been given the opportunity to work on new creations. The other vital component was the emphasis on musicality – what a pleasure it was to watch dancers who fully immersed themselves in the music. It is this element that can turn an average performance into a really good one and this was happily achieved.