Dutch National Ballet's Junior Company is back with a new touring programme. The Junior company was established in 2014, intent to be a springboard for young dancers, bridging the gap between dance academy and company life. Last season the Junior Ballet impressed audiences with an exciting fantasy ballet, Narnia, in collaboration with fusion dance company ISH, as well as their to their own touring programme. In 2015/2016 it’s back to the traditional format: a touring programme with energetic classical pieces as well as new works by both well known and up-and-coming choreographers. It was entertaining enough, but made me long for something fresher and more exciting.

The evening traditionally opens with a classical piece for multiple dancers. This year it’s a pas de six from La Vivandière, strong of its refined French style; characterised by small jumps, clean footwork and a lot of upper body movements. But despite its jolly character the piece looks somewhat old fashioned and it didn’t allow any of the dancers to stand out technically. Luckily the atmosphere rapidly changes with Ballet 101, a piece that never fails to entertain a crowd: the dancer jokingly performs all 101 ballet positions, of which some are rather unusual, with increasing speed until his body literally falls apart. This evening it was performed with much charm by Giovanni Princic, a tall and princely dancer who shows a completely different side of himself in this work.

Ballet 101 is followed by two premières. The evening sees a world première by Charlotte Edmonds, a dancer with the Royal Ballet who is just 18 years of age, titled Fuse. She was invited to create a new work for the Junior Company after a successful workshop last summer in London. It is an atmospheric piece that starts of very well, with the dancers showing a nice flow and great control. However in the second half the work loses tension and babbles forth too much to hold attention. But there is no doubt that we will hear more from this talented young choreographer in the near future. The first half of the programme concludes with the Dutch première of David Dawson’s 5, a work that suits the Junior company very well. It’s extremely fast and playful, leaning on the dancers' classical training while giving the steps a cool and modern twist.

After the break the programme continues with a selection of more mature contemporary works by resident choreographers of the Dutch National Ballet. The first ones, Krysztof Pastor’s Silbersee and Wie lange noch, two heavy works that lacked intensity on the night, did not seem to fit in with the rest of the bubbly programme But Hans van Manen’s iconic Trois Gnossiennes makes up for this. It’s a harmonious piece which shows the development of a relationship. The tension between man and woman gradually makes place for balance and trust, characterised by slow and clear movements and tender partnering. It's a piece that allows the dancers to show a more mature side of themselves, without getting too heavy hearted.

The evening concludes with Artistic coordinator Ernst Meisner’s No Time Before Time, an energetic neoclassical work combining youthful energy with professional skills. He seems to know his dancers best.

Ballet Bubbles is again a varied programme with an interesting mix of styles, but it did not surprise or exceed expectations anymore as it did in the previous years. The structure and concept of the touring programmes proved itself, but perhaps it’s time for something new and fresh: be it another collaboration or a new take on the own touring programme.