[img]http://hits.guardian.co.uk/b/ss/guardiangu-feeds/1/H.20.3/29784?ns=guardian&pageName=Birmingham+Royal+Ballet%3A+Quantum+Leaps%2C+National+Dance+Company+Wales+%7C+D%3AArticle%3A1304491&ch=Stage&c3=Obs&c4=Dance%2CStage%2CCulture+section%2CBirmingham+Royal+Ballet&c6=Luke+Jennings&c7=09-Nov-16&c8=1304491&c9=Article&c10=Feature%2CReview&c11=Stage&c13=&c25=&c30=content&h2=GU%2FStage%2FDance[/img]Birmingham's David Bintley thrills to Einstein while Cardiff's Ann Sholem channels glam-rock and Glenn Miller
How would David Bintley's career have developed if he hadn't become director of Birmingham Royal Ballet in 1995? By then, he had choreographed "Still Life" at the Penguin Café and Tombeaux, the latter seen by many as his finest work. The story-ballets he has created for BRB â€“ Hobson's Choice, Arthur, Cyrano â€“ are a solid body of work but hardly test the boundaries of the artform.
With E=mc2, however, he has ventured light years from his comfort zone. The key to this investigation of Einstein's equation is Matthew Hindson's brilliant orchestral score, to which Bintley responds with force fields of gleaming, pared-back dance. In the first section, "Energy", the fury of the interactions suggests a particle storm. The performers are not so much autonomous beings as units of embodied urgency. The stage, shot through with horizontal shafts of light, teems like a hive, fracturing into enigmatic exchanges around a taut duet for Elisha Willis and Joseph Caley.
The second section, "Mass", is announced by shivering strings and a delicate buzzing. Three mysterious duets ensue, with Gaylene Cummerfield, Céline Gittens and Jenna Roberts intently manipulated by a cohort of male partners before being simultaneously raised aloft, like divers arrested in mid-flight, into a nimbus of white light.
The brief third section, "Manhattan Project", miscalculates. To a rending explosion, we see a kimono-clad Japanese dancer slowly turning a red fan. Bintley is saying, presumably, that Hiroshima was the point at which the theoretical became the actual and whirling particles became dying humans. But this literal spelling-out seems at odds with the allusive architecture of the whole.
Recompense comes with "Celeritas2", the final element. All is speed, with the dancers delivering waves of petit allegro against a bank of golden lights. Gradually, the mercurial ensemble ebbs away until only Alexander Campbell and Carol-Anne Millar remain, flickering ghosts of the earlier activity. What makes this work so memorable is the economy with which Bintley responds to the challenge of Hindson's score.
Bar the occasional curving of a body line, or the tendril-like softening of a wrist, he never deserts his classical base, but the result has an extraordinary new-minted brightness. It effortlessly outshines the two pieces that bracket it in Quantum Leaps: Stanton Welch's Powder, and Garry Stewart's The Centre and its Opposite. The former is set to Mozart's clarinet concerto and is made up of ballet routines whose busy top-dressing of head-nods, hip-shakes and hand-waves fails to disguise their conventionality.
At one point, so frantic are the stylistic tics that Natasha Oughtred appears to be miming washing her hair. The Stewart piece is a sulky, strutting attitude-piece set to a slamming electronic score by Huey Benjamin, but not even Dusty Button's sway-back leg line and soaring extensions can distract us from the fact that William Forsythe did this better, to better music and in better costumes, in 1988.
Founded in 1983 by two former dancers, Ann Sholem and Roy Campbell-Moore, Cardiff-based Diversions Dance Company has been renamed National Dance Company Wales. The rebranding reflects the troupe's status as one of Wales's flagship arts bodies and for its first London performance artistic director Sholem presented a double bill which can be read as a statement of intent: Andonis Foniadakis's Veil of Stars, and Nigel Charnock's Lunatic. Both are combative slices of dance-theatre. Veil of Stars is a gothic pantomime for masked and sequined dancers whose fatalistic writhing suggests a glam-rock commedia dell'arte show; Lunatic opens to Glenn Miller tunes and sees the cast swaying in their pyjamas before nostalgia turns to nightmare. We will hear more of NDCW.
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Guardian: Birmingham Royal Ballet: Quantum Leaps, National Dance Company Wales | Dance review
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