In "The Flying Dutchmen are coming to London" I wrote:
"Well they are not all Dutch, of course, and only half of them are men but, as you can see from the clip above. they can all fly."And fly they did from the high pitch whine of Daniel Montero's gyrations in Ballet 101 to the magnificent jumps of Sho Yamada and Michaela DePrince in the pas de deux from Diana et Acteon. Yesterday was the end of a 6 month tour of the towns and cities of the Netherlands plus Vitoria and Oviedo in Spain and the Linbury in Covent Garden that started at the Stadsshouwburg in Amsterdam on 24 Nov 2013. I saw them at the start of their tour and reviewed their performance in "The Junior Company of the Dutch National Ballet - Stadsshouwburg Amsterdam 24 Nov 2013" on 25 Nov 2013. I was amazed then but the company was even better last night.
The show in the Linbury followed very much the format that I had seen in Amsterdam. There were eight short ballets introduced by a video clip. The only difference is that the speeches in Dutch were edited out, Having seen the show before and knowing the Linbury I selected my seats carefully. The middle of row G in the Arena so that my eyes were approximately the same height as the dancers'. I calculated that these would be just about the best sets in the house.
The reason I chose my seats with such care is that I brought my sister in law and the nearest I have to a daughter to the show. They are both Sierra Leonean and I wanted them to see DePrince, a Sierra Leonean born dancer whom I had previously described as "quite simply the most exciting dancer I have seen for quite a while." For many years Sierra Leone was in the news for all the wrong reasons and whenever there was a report of a coup or atrocity my late spouse who had known the country in better times was driven to tears. I watched the faces of my guests as DePrince as Diana entered from the right of the stage with her bow and their joy and their pride were palpable. As she executed one amazing feat after another their pride increased like the whine of Montero's engine. Seeing their happiness - indeed our happiness -was reason enough to make the 400 mile return journey to see that show.
But DePrince is just one of 12 prodigious talents. As George Williamson said in his video introduction to Dawn Dances the dancers of the Junior Company come from all over the world and they all have different qualities. Yesterday I concentrated on some of the dancers I had missed last time. Thomas van Damme, for instance, who opened the evening with Nancy Burer in Minuet. Van Damme also danced in Hans van Manen's Kwintet an exposition of almost architectural symetry created originally for Alexandra Radius. I have always admired van Manen's work but I saw new complexities which left me wanting more. Happily I don't have long to wait as Northern Ballet will be dancing Concertante in Leeds between the 18 and 21 June,
As in Amsterdam my favourite ballet of the evening was Ernst Meisner's Saltarello. That is the ballet that shows the dancers to their best advantage. DePrince and Yamada were magnificent in that ballet but so were Montero and Sofia Rubio Robles. Fast and spectacular it must have been such a joy to dance. It was certainly a delight to watch. The yellows and reds of the costumes flickered like flames in a hearth.
The finale was Williamson's Dawn Dances which was performed for the first time in the United Kingdom on Thursday. As with Kwintet I noticed qualities in the work that I had missed before as well as Oliver Haller's designs and Judd Greenstein's score. It is an exuberant ballet well suited to young dancers. It is a work that I could see again and again.
The Linbury is a very different theatre from the Staddshouwburg. In is smaller and more confined. The crowd were appreciative clapping and cheering in the right places but somehow the atmosphere was different from that wonderful night in November. This seemed an even better performance than in November which was rewarded by the audience rising to its feet as one. If ever a troupe of performers deserved a standing ovation it was those 12 great kids last night. It should have been easy as those at the top and sides of the auditorium were already standing. I rose but nobody else in the Arena joined me and in the end I sat down so as not to spoil the view of those behind me. Ah well! London is London. Always a bit too snooty. Now if my friend Mel had been with me it would have been different.