BWW Review: YOUNG TALENT FESTIVAL: BALLETT ZURICH JUNIOR COMPANY, Linbury Theatre, Royal Opera House
Now in wind-down mode for the summer, programmers at the Royal Opera House are treating audiences to a host of performances from young dancers, overseas companies and, of course, later on in July, a short residency from the Bolshoi.
The relatively newly unveiled Linbury Theatre is the setting for this year's Young Talent Festival, a succession of evenings featuring work from students and those graduating into company life from both the UK and abroad. The festival opens with confident, assured work from Ballett Zurich's Junior Company.
The triple bill begins with Echo of Elements - a neo-classical piece from Filipe Portugal. It's the most accomplished work of the evening, highlighting a beautiful quality of movement from the ensemble of 14. Elegant, unobtrusive costumes, simple staging and a tumultuous score is all that's required to showcase the maturity of the talent on stage.
Each dancer cuts an impressive presence: the women are finessed in their plain leotards and black translucent skirts, and the men are strong in curious unitards with cut-out sections.
The choreography alternates between physically challenging duets and trios and full ensemble work. In the intimacy of the Linbury, the smaller segments work best. The larger group moments are more jarring, the exposing space highlighting every off-angle or uneven formation, but individually, movements are clean and confident. It's a satisfying watch for those who enjoy fine technicality.
The subsequent works, Wounded and Submerged, are too similar to stand beside one another in a mixed bill and don't demonstrate anything unique from the other.
Louis Stien's Wounded sees all the dancers in futuristic, androgynous silver catsuits. Demanding choreography is danced with great intensity and stark lighting, but there is no decipherable narrative.
Perhaps more necessary in this case, Submerged is another darkly lit, dingy piece for this bright and likeable troupe. The act of plunging into the unknown is acted out convincingly, but as Goyo Montero's piece evolves, these motifs are repetitive and feel overly dramatic alongside prolonged heavy breathing and later the stripping off of costumes to reveal nude-coloured underwear.
There's no doubting the calibre of the talent on show, but this is a programme in need of some colour, a burst of energy, some light and shade, preferably with classical roots. The work is physically draining, but offers little artistic freedom and opportunity for personality.
Young Talent Festival runs at the Royal Opera House until 6 July