Ballet Black’s innovative programme of new work opened with Robert Binet’s Egal, to music by Bertelmann and Hahn, danced by the beautiful and athletic Cira Robinson with Jacob Wye, a First Year Apprentice with the company. An abstract work, with a sense of a story, it explored the relationship between an equally matched couple with strength, balance and energy. Robinson’s every movement has its own equilibrium, shown particularly in the perfectly counterpoised spins as she swings around her partner. She shows a strong internal logic and an awareness of both the source and destination of each movement, which makes her an extremely satisfying dancer to watch.

Dopamine (you make my levels go silly) by Ludovic Ondiviela to Fabio D’Andrea’s Perpetuum was another work danced by two dancers, Sayaka Ichikawa and Jazmon Voss. Fast and daring, with flying jumps and lifts, I thought perhaps it depended too much on Ichikawa’s exceptionally warm personality for its success, and I wonder how well it would work danced by another couple.

The third work, Javier de Frutos’ The One Played Twice, was my only disappointment, although it was very well received by the audience. I had expected to enjoy it, but it was set to dirge-like Hawaiian barbershop music that I really disliked, and the dancing just didn’t catch my interest.

After the interval, everything was back on track with Christopher Marney’s narrative work War Letters. Inspired by a collection of letters from the Imperial War Museum and a poem by Vicki Feaver, it presents a series of vignettes that loosely tell the story of a wartime love affair from a woman’s point of view. The distinctive personalities and dance styles of the four women dancers, Robinson, Ichikawa, Kanika Carr and Sarah Kundi expressed humour, happiness, sorrow and longing. My favourite scene was The Heavy Coat, a quartet in which Ichikawa danced with three men as she remembered the lost love that she wanted to shrug off and yet cling on to. There is a dreadful moment when she is hidden under the coat and almost crawls in anguish, and it was hard to reconcile this intense emotion with some of the other scenes. It was as if there were two ballets here, one a gentle comedy set in a dance hall, the other a tragedy, but the two didn’t knit together. It was a good work, but one that would benefit from further reworking and editing.

Maggie Watson

3 March 2013