Remembrance | The Four Seasons at the Peacock Theatre is a powerful double bill of contemporary choreography with a strong link to classic tradition and original concert music. The latter, probably, is the major unifying element of those different ballets. In both cases, the music is more than just an accompaniment, it’s an emotional character, defining the action on the stage and providing the audience with some truly catharsis moments.
The evening opened with The Four Seasons, an abstract piece, choreographed by Jenna Lee on Max Ritcher’s recomposed version of Vivaldi’s classic. From tender spring to hot and passionate summer, rich autumn and somehow lonely, cold winter, we travel through four seasons with the dancers of The New English Ballet Theatre. They dance abstract pieces, following the natural themes in music and working on sharing the emotion rather than a story. This is a neoclassical ballet, so don’t get surprised when sweet pas de deux is ‘interrupted’ by some almost acrobatic supports and drops.
The most powerful piece was the 2nd movement in the Summer section, with two pairs following the same choreography with a small backlog. Bodies of dancers in each pair turn into a unity, and their vivid, sliding movements amaze and hypnotise the audience.
The music by Max Ritcher enriches the action on the stage, and choreography sometimes feels a bit weaker than the music. It works amazingly with well-known tunes, playing tricks with your expectations and providing you with a change of tempo or alterations each time you recreate the original piece in your mind.
The second part of the evening, original ballet Remembrance by choreographer Wayne Eagling was quite impressive as well. Working with a complex music theme, Handel’s Ode for St Cecilia’s Day, it brings singing and dancing together, making the soloist appear in the corner of the stage and placing choirs at the balconies, sounding like the voices from the sky at the most dramatic moments of the show.
This piece is based on the real story of ballerina Marie Rambert and her husband Ashley Dukes, who are just married and have to separate as the war breaks out and Ashley needs to go to fight. Their goodbye at the railway station felt like the most powerful scene in the whole ballet for me, along with the scene of Marie’s madness (Alessia Lugoboni) and the final dramatic piece, when soldiers reunite with their loved ones after the Armistice is signed.
This is a personal story but with the general meaning, and the authors of the ballet try to explore the hopes and fears of all young men and women in this historical period. It’s not a coincidence that the ballet premiered this year when we celebrate 100 years since the Armistice and try to learn again to appreciate the peaceful sky above our heads.
It’s worth mentioning the amazing design of set and costumes empowered by amazing lighting design for Remembrance. It takes the action from the stage and uses the whole space of the theatre as a battlefield, making the audience feel as a part of the story and building this strong, emotional connection.
I highly recommend this double bill to all fans of neoclassic ballet and modern choreography, and I would say that it can be a great starting point for those who want to explore the modern dance culture and see one of the best examples of dancing performance. One abstract and one historical, two pieces work together at both emotional and intellectual level, making you feel, think and analyse the action on stage every single moment.