'Draft works' is an annual event, held at the Royal Opera House's Linbury Studio Theatre in which Royal Ballet dancers (with some exceptions) are given the opportunity to experiment with and develop their choreographic talents, using their peers to perform in the choreographies. This year, the standard of dancing was high, but that of the choreography was more variable.

Nicol Edmonds in Joshua Beamish's <i>Burrow</i> © ROH, 2015. Ph Andrej Uspenski
Nicol Edmonds in Joshua Beamish's Burrow
© ROH, 2015. Ph Andrej Uspenski
The first offering, Burrow, by Joshua Beamish, performed by Matthew Ball and Nicol Edmonds, is a pas de deux between two men deeply emotionally involved. To me, it was tense rather than intense and brought to mind that dancing is not acting. I remember, as a young dancer, Martha Graham saying that the face should be expressionless; that in dance the body alone conveys the feeling. Intensity in dance involves channeled emotion through design, it can be more abstract than acting, because it is concerned with elements like shape, density, space and a field of sound. If the art is too personal, the audience is turned into a voyeur. I felt that the relationship between Shostakovich's music and the dancers had not been thought through analytically enough. Musical structures and dance structures must be carefully considered, if the intention is that the dance responds to the music. Some dancers simply appear to ignore the sound field, as if it does not exist. The choreographer had said that he admired the long bodies of his dancers, but high extensions and too much use of limbs, does not necessarily create a long effect in itself, and the pas de deux between the two male dancers lacked artistry.

Elegie du Souvenir was created by Valentino Zucchetti to music by Rachmaninoff, played live on the cello and the piano. It was performed by Fumi Kaneko and Tristan Dyer. Zucchett had wanted to be inspired by the way the dancers moved; thus we were treated to elegant, flowing dance with some beautiful lifts. Overall more excitement could have been built into the design.

T. Dyer and F. Kaneko in V. Zucchetti's <i>Elégie du Souvenir</i> © ROH, 2015. Ph Andrej Uspenski
T. Dyer and F. Kaneko in V. Zucchetti's Elégie du Souvenir
© ROH, 2015. Ph Andrej Uspenski
L'Autre Côté choreographed by Sander Blommaert, to music by Max Richter is an ensemble work for nine dancers. There was an interesting collaborative effort with the music:  for example, the chorus of dancers in the background were following a slower beat, while the pas de deux in the foreground double-timed that beat. There was a fine female solo performance from a dancer in a long, black dress. The piece seemed slightly static and could still build up – perhaps by increasing the complexity of movement.

The best choreography of the evening was Erico Montes' Dances for 1,2,and 3 , set to music by J.S.Bach. His sensitivity and reverence for the music were echoed in Akane Takada's performance. She was dainty, exquisite, and her lifts were beautiful. Bach's music seemed to resonate through her arms and torso. As a choreographer, Montes is main stage. He was weaved his three dancers (Takada, David Donnelly and Benjamin Ella) into a refined tapestry.

Finally, Marcelino Sambe hoped to present a change of pace with his Dez Days with five dancers. However, the imagery of Nina Simone's 'Strange Fruit' is to me so painful that it cannot be ignored. Apart from that, Sambe did move his dancers well about the stage. 

These experimental evenings should happen more frequently. They are important in honing choreographers' artistic skills. There were no women in this year's lineup, though there are such extraordinary female choreographers in contemporary dance ( Martha Graham and Pina Bausch were prime examples) ... admittedly there are fewer coming forward in contemporary ballet.