After a packed programme, multiple national and international tours and several changes in the tableau de la troupe the Dutch National Ballet closes a vibrant season with Cool Britannia. In this year’s contribuation to the Holland Festival, the company brings together three of the most sought-after British choreographers of the moment. Wayne McGregor makes his debut with the company with Chroma, Chistopher Wheeldon premières his Concerto Concordia and associate artist David Dawson choreographed his new work Empire Noir to an original score by Greg Haines. Bringing together three top choreographers creates high expectations, but the dancers are in excellent shape and each choreography in Cool Britannia gives a completely different but satisfying impression of British contemporary ballet.

Igone de Jongh, Floor Eimers, Suzanna Kaic & Michaela DePrince in <i>Empire Noir</i> © Angela Sterling
Igone de Jongh, Floor Eimers, Suzanna Kaic & Michaela DePrince in Empire Noir
© Angela Sterling

David Dawson’s vibrant opening work Empire Noir is characterised by its grim atmosphere and dynamic choreography. The movements are clear, sharp and fast. Accompanied by the dark atmospheric score by Greg Haines, they give the piece a stirring and nervous feel. Empire Noir seems to be set in the grey area between waking and sleeping. You don’t know where it leads to, but you allow yourself to get carried away in this rollercoaster of thoughts and movement. The choreography draws on classical technique and accentuates the beautiful long lines of the DNB dancers.

Christopher Wheeldon recently won a Tony Award for best choreography for the musical An American in Paris, and Concerto Concordia seems to be influenced by his work on broadway. Set to the Francis Poulenc’s melodic and jazzy score Concerto for two Pianos and Orchestra in D minor this piece is romantic, lyrical and breezy. An ensemble of 12 dancers, the ladies wearing wide and brightly coloured trousers, is lead by two couples. Nadia Yanowsky and Remi Wörtmeyer dance with a sparkling freshness, portraying a youthful love couple, while Wheeldon’s muse Anna Tsygankova shines in a more intimate and mature duet with her partner Jozef Varga. Concerto Concordia is ballet with a touch of swing. Sandwiched between Empire Noir and Chroma it looks a bit conventional, but it is nevertheless a very charming and enjoyable work.

Anna Tsygankova and Jozef Varga in <i>Concerto Concordia</i> © Angela Sterling
Anna Tsygankova and Jozef Varga in Concerto Concordia
© Angela Sterling

DNB saves the best for last with Chroma. This choreography was Wayne McGregor’s breakthrough work with the Royal Ballet, and is now his debut here. McGregor draws his inspiration from technology. He decodes movement to create something unusual and unpredictable, and that’s what makes Chroma such an exciting and gripping work. With sheer white scenery and nude coloured costumes, the focus is completely on the dancers who push their limits, contort and use their bodies in alien movements. Their faces are without expression, and their focus is almost frightening. Hints of emotion and human interaction only show through in the fragile and powerful pas de deux. The Dutch National Ballet dancers give a sensational performance, dancing Chroma with indescribable high energy and commitment.

Igone de Jongh and Artur Shesterikov in <i>Chroma</i> © Angela Sterling
Igone de Jongh and Artur Shesterikov in Chroma
© Angela Sterling

Cool Britannia shows that British contemporary ballet is currently at a high level, with the featured choreographers creating rich works of choreography for companies all around the globe. This programme demonstrates that British choreography represents a variety of styles, and  by including some of these on their repertoire  Dutch National Ballet maintains its reputation as a progressive dance company with international allure.