A Passing Cloud – Royal New Zealand Ballet: Linbury Theatre, Royal Opera House, London, 17 November 2015

Half a world away

Damn this Velcro. Royal New Zealand Ballet get stuck into A Passing Cloud.

Damn this velcro. Royal New Zealand Ballet get stuck into A Passing Cloud.

For their first trip to London in four years, Royal New Zealand Ballet brought with them a very entertaining and thoughtful quadruple bill entitled A Passing Cloud.

Things started with the heavily Polynesian themed The Anatomy of a Passing Cloud by Javier de Frutos. The first twenty minutes or so were great; full of bounce and lightness and there were some breathtaking lifts, razor-sharp running catches and an excellent playlist of music. But then Frutos tried to inject some tension into the piece and it lost its momentum for the last ten.

The two short pieces that followed were created for the Company’s Salute programme earlier this year that commemorated the centenary of the start of the First World War. The two choreographers examined a similar theme in the personal tragedies suffered by both those on the front line and those at home but responded very differently in choreographic terms.

In Dear Horizon Andrew Simmons used a lyrical neo-classical vocabulary that was beautiful to watch but never really hit the emotional heart of the issue. Among the lovely expressive dancing from the five couples was a mesmerising solo from Mayu Tanigaito and a tender duet from Abigail Boyle and Paul Mathews.

Neil Ieremia went for a much more stylistic approach in Passchendaele. The militaristic formations of the nine men fitted right inwith the crash bang of Dwayne Bloomfield’s score and at first the rather vapid role of the women seemed unnecessary. But when they hugged the memories of their dead men in the aftermath of New Zealand’s worst ever battle loss their choreographic purpose became clear. It was an incredibly moving conclusion.

Last up was the ceaseless whirl of spins and leaps that made Andonis Foniadakis’ Selon désir such a brilliant watch. There were always a countless number of people on stage, forever moving in constantly shifting patterns and groupings. It should be chaotic but it’s held together by its insistence on orbital motion and by an outstanding central performance from Alayna Ng who’s character seems to have taken the wrong pills just before bedtime.

Overall the Company looked in good shape and, although it would have been good to have seen the clearly talented dancers in more individual roles amongst the largely ensemble-led works, the repertoire was interesting and imaginative, . This was a fine night at the theatre.

Royal New Zealand Ballet perform A Passing Cloud at the Linbury Theatre until 21 November 2015. Tickets can be found on the Royal Opera House website.

Gerard Davis

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