This was a stunning evening of new dance works, alongside extracts from Kenneth MacMillan’s newly revived ballet Playground.  The curtain raiser Who’s It?!, choreographed collaboratively by Edd Mitton and Jordi Calpe Serrats with students from the Centre for Advanced Training at Swindon Dance Centre, was an ingenious preparation for MacMillan’s deeply disturbing work with its references to children’s games. In the duets from Playground that followed, Oxana Panchenko as the Girl with make-up and Jonathan Goddard as The Youth portrayed an emotionally and sexually abusive relationship, enmeshed within violent and coercive social forces, in a ballet that pushes game-playing to a horrible conclusion.

Robert Cohan’s Communion was an exceptional chance to see a new work from one of the most important creators of contemporary dance in England over the last sixty years. The choreography evoked memories of a Graham technique that is not often seen today, with patterns of walking steps, triplets and lunges with arms reaching for the sky that appeared deceptively simple. Danced with total commitment and conviction, the work conveyed a sense of continuity and connection that cannot be put into words.

Sophia Stoller’s interesting and well-constructed Between and Within followed, and the evening concluded with Yolande Yorke-Edgell’s Imprint, a work that pays homage to the three choreographers that have influenced her the most: Robert Cohan, Bella Lewitzky and Richard Alston. Imprint embodies their styles in new dances, created by recapturing the essence of Yorke-Edgell’s physical experience of performing their work.

The high quality and range of this tiny company’s work makes it immensely satisfying to watch. There is meticulous attention to detail, and great care taken by all involved: Susie Crow and Stephen Wicks, who coached the cast for Playground, both took the trouble to travel to Swindon to attend this performance. Yorke-Edgell has the confidence and judgement to bring in guest artists of the highest calibre; in addition to Goddard and Panchenko, the Royal Ballet’s Romany Pajdak is also appearing in some performances, and some former company members have returned for this season. A retrospective that consists of four new works and one new revival may sound like a contradiction in terms, but dance movement is retained in dancers’ bodies as well as in the actual steps, and dance quality may be passed on through new as well as older works. This reflection on twenty years of the Yorke Dance Project is a rare and exciting opportunity to encounter the styles of some of the great choreographers through the performances of younger artists.

Maggie Watson

2nd May 2019

Read about Yorke Dance Project’s revival of Playground here

Find out more about the company’s twentieth anniversary season here

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