Images Ballet Company is the performing group of the graduating ballet students at London Studio Centre, and their appearance at Cornerstone last night was an exciting opportunity to see new dancers and new (or nearly new) works. Artistic Director Jennifer Jackson presented a programme of dances by four choreographers (Hubert Essakow, Erico Montes, Bim Malcomson, and Morgann Runacre-Temple), which demanded lyricism, attack, humour and acting ability, and the dancers rose to the occasion magnificently.

In Essakow’s Cut Out, presented in two halves that opened and closed the evening, five dancers wearing black leggings and elegant lace tops shared the stage with musicians Elliott Perks (viola) and Tom Ellis (guitar). Seeing the dancers in different sections of the same piece at either end of the programme revealed how they had become more confident and at ease with the space by the time they reached Part 3 (danced by Shannon Higgins and Hannah Orton), and Part 4, in which Anna Heery moved between the musicians with great poise. The first of the three works that filled this structural sandwich was Montes’ Sonata in Colour to Florence Price’s Piano Sonata in E. Six dancers, of whom one, Maria Bruguet, was a last minute substitution, wore lovely peach and pink dresses, and wove intricate patterns that filled the space with movement. This complex work, which combined pointe and demi-pointe, will have been particularly tricky with an unexpected cast change; but was danced so well because of the close interaction between the dancers.

Bim Malcomson’s Red Queen Brouhaha is a witty, energy-packed take on Alice in Wonderland, which finds new ways of referencing Lewis Caroll’s subversive story through dance, conveying notions such as changing size and falling down holes as well as narrative moments, like the croquet game or the theft of the jam tarts. I loved its wacky dynamism, and the way that the cast used their voices as well as movement with total conviction.

There were voices, as well as music, in the fourth work of the evening too, but this time in the form of recorded readings from Mozart’s letters. In Mozart’s Women and the Kingdom of Back by Morgann Runacre-Temple, Demi Aldred, Anna Heery and Eleonora Gatti represented his sister Nannerl, his muse Aloysia Weber, and his wife Constanza. Runacre-Temple’s choreography brilliantly conveyed the impression of singing or playing a keyboard and gave each character her own distinctive way of moving; the three dancers performed this work particularly well,

It was a delightful programme, not only for the dancing but also for the quality of the music, which included a viola solo by Elliot Perks. A nice touch was the transition marked by a dancer carefully laying out a line of playing cards on the stage, which she then carefully picked up. Jackson has enabled these dancers to develop a focus, attention to detail and polish that showed in aspects of their performance ranging from practical elements (I noticed how quiet their pointe shoes were) to stage presence and theatrical authority. It is splendid that we had a chance to see the company at Cornerstone, and it was an additional pleasure that the cast included local dancer Esme Calcutt, who trained in Oxford with Penny Cullerne-Bown before attending London Studio Centre. The company’s tour culminates with shows at the Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells on Sunday and Monday .

Maggie Watson

14 June 2018