After a successful first season last year, Dutch National Ballet now presents its new Junior Company in a brand new touring programme: 'ballet classics and modern masters'. Just like the previous edition, the performance is structured around a traditional reading of ballet history and features, in order, excerpts from classical ballets, works by resident and guest choreographers, and then two world premières created especially for the group of young dancers. New talents have joined the company and the second year dancers show growth in an exciting, interesting and very varied programme.

The Junior Ballet in <i>Napoli</i> © Michel Schnater
The Junior Ballet in Napoli
© Michel Schnater
The evening opens with the sweet, charming pas de six from Bournonville’s Napoli, a piece focuses on precise technique and fast footwork; the danish style providing the dancers with great challenges in their first minutes on stage. It is not an easy piece, but they carried it of with aplomb and truly seemed to enjoy themselves on stage.

Overall, there were two memorable pas de deux in the bill: Van Dantzig’s intimate White swan pas (Swan Lake) and Ernst Meisner's Embers. Yuanyuan Zhang impresses as Odette. She was graceful and vulnerable, and her expressive arms and facial expression helped convey the drama. Artistically she looks very mature and it is hard to believe that this was only her first solo performance with the company. Also notable was Nancy Burer and Thomas van Damme's dancing in Embers, a vulnerable contemporary duet by artistic director (Meisner). Burer in particular stands out and has a refined stage presence. The brief duet is of hypnotizing beauty and one wishes it to last longer.

Nancy Burer and Ryosuke Morimoto in <i>Visions Fugitives</i> © Michel Schnater
Nancy Burer and Ryosuke Morimoto in Visions Fugitives
© Michel Schnater
Other contemporary pieces, from Hans van Manen and Milena Sidorova followed. Visions Fugitives is pure dance with Van Manen’s signature fluid, clear movement. It is a game of attraction and rejection that, though well performed, lacked tension. Sidorova’s crowd pleasing Full Moon, set to music from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet ballet scoreshows a dancer during a sleepless night fighting with his pillow. It is a very theatrical and humoristic piece full of acrobatic moves. It seemed that the movements and little jokes were expressed less clearly than in a previous performance by Dutch National Ballet’s main company, but nevertheless it was an enjoyable performance, and Bart Engelen was an endearing sleepless Romeo.

After the intermission came two world premières. With Surfacing young choreographer Robert Binet created a very interesting abstract piece. Small movements and big jumps alternate each other on serene piano music by Somei Satoh. Blink, by Juanjo Arques closes the evening in an energetic and playful manner; as attractive modern dance is combined with foolish walks and funny faces. It perfectly suits the young dancers of the Junior Company who put all their charm in this piece and sent me home feeling very happy.

Bart Engelen in Sidorova's <i>Full Moon</i> © Michel Schnater
Bart Engelen in Sidorova's Full Moon
© Michel Schnater
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