News on your favorite shows, specials & more!


Individual, committed and fearless

By: Jul. 02, 2024
Get Access To Every Broadway Story

Unlock access to every one of the hundreds of articles published daily on BroadwayWorld by logging in with one click.

Existing user? Just click login.

Review: THE NEXT GENERATION FESTIVAL - RAMBERT SCHOOL, Royal Opera House  ImageThe Next Generation Festival continues at the Royal Opera House with Rambert School. The programme includes six new commissions for the third-year, graduate students, and the restaging of three Akram Khan works for the second-years.

Khan’s Kaash was a strong opener, with simple (-ish) movement that's repeated in complex patterning and structures. It sets the standard in the sense that all of the cast dances as if alone, with no one getting lost in the ensemble. The movement emphasis is focused on the upper body and arms, and allows for an aggressive dynamic to fill the space.

Fortuna by Impermanence is an atmospheric work that lacks evident choreographic and movement purpose. Historic costuming, large flags, court-like/equestrian movement and recorded narration all give buckets of ambiance, but the overall effect somehow still reads flat. 

Timelapse by Faye Tan almost felt like a continuation of Fortuna; dim lighting, swishing and swirling etc, but it offers more movement in relation to covering space. The choice of white noise as audio doesn't help matters. In fact, the introduction of melody in the last five minutes really brought Tan’s choreography, and the dancing of it alive.

Mud of sorrow by Khan is fundamentally five couples doing the same choreography in unison, so doesn't hold masses of appeal. The main shtick is his piggyback/piggyfront style partnering. We’ve all seen this before (Sacred Monsters), so one hopes the experience has been useful for the students.

Polaris by Robbie Ordona is the opposite end of the spectrum: music visualisation. It's very literal at times, but clearly gives the cast something to wrestle with. His fusion of contemporary and hip-hop styles feels fashionable, but the journey into tumbling is a tad too faddy for my taste.

From a time when a butterfly lifted a stone to save itself from vanity by Adrian Look reminds me of a Lana Del Rey album title, and the first half of the piece felt like an uncomfortably close homage to Pina Bausch. It's all there: French style music, opera, gesture and absurdity in the form of larger than life emotional reactions. But then things shift a gear when Look introduces idiosyncratic movement material; we get to see emotive, weight-bearing partnering and original structuring. I hope the second half is explored more.

Photo Credit: Chris Nash

F2F by Naia Bautista sees the inclusion of pointe shoes for some students, and this I applaud. It feels relevant for the trainee dancers to be able to explore all of the genre they study, and the balletic addition means that line, projection and expanse can also be part of the conversation. Bautista offered vast partner work and unpredictability in the piece’s overall makeup, but there's still a way to go in relation to a defined choreographic voice. Some might say a little less David Dawson-esque port de bras might help fine-tune the journey.

Celestine by Arthur Pita was a surprise, and in quite a profound way. I love rhythm, as it allows for a point of reference to go with and oppose. Pita's music choice of Alexandre Desplat took the work to intriguing and satisfying places. The experience feels both historic and modern simultaneously; the former in relation to the pedestrian-focused, postmodern dance scene of 1970s New York, the latter because what he's created also communicates a newness in its own right. I saw Picasso portraits suddenly alive through detailed gesture, and Keith Haring tableaux becoming 3D via striking form in fleeting instances. I hope powerful people see this work and imagine where it could go if acquired by a ballet company.

Closing the evening was Jungle Book reimagined by Khan. I believe this is Khan at his best, showing the power of narrative embodiment through contemporary dance language, and the cast absolutely lapped it up. Humans as animals can so easily be naff, but Khan takes the movement to a weighted, guttural place with arm movements full of drama. It was wonderful to see the students relishing the characterisation that’s on offer to them.

A big congratulations to Rambert's artistic direction. Not everything was to my personal taste, but to be able to experience nine different works, of which six are new commissions is a really big deal. And the future absolutely looks bright as the student body is collectively awe-inspiring. The takeaway vibe; individual, committed and fearless.

The Next Generation Festival is at the Royal Opera House until 4 July

Photo Credit: Chris Nash


To post a comment, you must register and login.