Reviews of "Britten Dances" at the Aldeburgh Festival.
Set to Britten’s Young Apollo, Ashley Page’s If Memory Serves has Laura Hidalgo as a mermaid at play, dancing with three young men. It’s slight but sprightly, with references to Balanchine’s 'Apollo'. Ben Pope conducts the Britten Sinfonia in a brisk account of the score.
Both ballets serve Britten beautifully; less so Courting the Senses, Page's slightly predictable deconstruction of a courtly duet, and Cameron McMillan's Dream Weaver, whose layering of classical and contemporary languages flares into moments of promisingly fierce invention, but also loses its way in inconsequential repetition.
The final ballet, from the Royal Ballet, was a world premiere – Kim Brandstrup’s Ceremony of Innocence to Variations on a Theme by Frank Bridge. The title is derived from a line in a WB Yeats’ poem. This was a beautifully conceived piece with stunningly magical designs from Leo Warner (video) and Jordan Tuinman (lighting). There is a narrative of sorts. An older couple, Edward Watson and Mara Galeazzi, appear to mourn the loss or absence of younger man – a child, maybe, or simply the embodiment of a lost innocence. The whole piece is pervaded by a shadowy nostalgia – with a chorus of two couples interwoven in the action, ghosts of a happier past.