Yorke Dance Project’s innovative programme at The Mill Arts Centre was an exceptional and exciting opportunity to see both new work and a rarely performed twentieth century ballet.

Sea of Troubles, inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet, which Kenneth MacMillan created for Dance Advance in 1988, has been reconstructed by its notator Jane Elliott and rehearsed by Susie Crow, who was one of the original cast. Breaking free from the constraint of strict narrative structure, MacMillan’s barefoot ballet explores the psychological trauma that lies beneath the surface of the play as Hamlet, an embodiment of the ‘outsider’, is tormented by the need for revenge. Dancers must turn on an emotional sixpence as they share roles, representing first one character and then another, to music that, unusually for ballets of the nineteen-eighties, ‘spliced’ together pieces by different composers (Anton Von Webern and Bohuslav Martinu). Unforgettable images include the intense moment when the Ghost whispers to Hamlet, pouring the poison of revenge into his ear; the pathos as Ophelia picks out her flowers; Hamlet’s furtive movements as he simulates insanity, and the scene in which the cast stands in line, arms raised like a crown teetering on demi-pointe, a dynasty on the brink of collapse. Beautifully danced, this was terrific performance of a small masterpiece.

The second work was the premiere of Robert Cohan’s Lacrymosa to music by Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky, a sorrowful duet performed by Freya Jeffs and Phil Sanger, in which the curves of movement seemed to draw teardrops in the air. Although dancing together, they were rarely face-to-face, as if they were separated by loneliness even when they were close to each other.

Charlotte Edmonds’ new work Self took up the MacMillan theme, being inspired by the pas de trois from Manon, but in an interesting turn, which allows her to play with the dynamics, she has cast two women (Amy Thake and Freya Jeffs) and one man (Kieran Stoneley), who is torn between opposing forces.

This outstanding evening at The Mill Arts Centre concluded with another premiere, Yolande Yorke-Edgell’s Untethered Part 1, a lovely, lyrical, work in which the whole company dances together to music by Brooklyn Rider. The tethering motif was represented physically as dancers wound and unwound themselves with from each other with ribbons, and choreographically as they moved together and apart.

There is another chance to see Rewind Forward on Monday 3 October at the Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells http://www.sadlerswells.com/whats-on/2016/yorke-dance-project-rewind-forward/  It is not to be missed.

Maggie Watson

25 September 2016

Dancers: Amy Thake, Benjamin Warbis, Daisy West, Edd Mitton, Freya Jeffs, Kieran Stoneley, Phil Sanger.