Stuttgart Ballet has a long tradition of promoting new choreography, and in this spirit the first programme for its visit to Sadler’s Wells included thirteen brief choreographies, all specially made for the company. Blending old pieces with more recent additions, the bill formed a heterogeneous conglomerate showcasing the wide range of styles in Stuttgart’s repertory and the versatility of its dancers. The success of the evening, however, was only partial, since most of the works exhibited an impersonal uniformity that demonstrated a lack of creativity rather than enriching diversity.

From the old works presented, it was a delight to see three pieces by the founder of the company, John Cranko. Hommage á Bolshoi (1964) opened the evening with a festival of lifts in the Russian tradition, performed with elegance by Maria Eichwald and Filip Barankiewicz. The third movement from Initials R.B.M.E (1972) brought sheer lyricism and beauty to the bill, and the pas de deux from Romeo and Juliet (1962) was an opportunity to glimpse the celebrated production. Hyo-Jun Kang and Alexander Jones offered a youthful interpretation of the immortal love story. In the same line of narrative works, Sue Jin Kang and Marijn Rademaker danced a pas de deux from John Neumeier’s The Lady of Camellias (1978). A fine expressive dancer but with a big athletic body, the former seemed miscast as a dying fragile woman, or at least mismatched to the more noble presence of her companion.

From the works created in the last fifteen years, only three pieces showed signs of distinction. Little Monsters (2011) by Demis Volpi was the gem of the bill. A quietly intense choreography, it stages the encounter and separation of a couple in three very brief acts. As an oblique visualization of the lyrics of Elvis Presley’s song Are you Lonesome Tonight?, it explores the possibilities of stillness, closeness and slowness as means of portraying intimacy and deep feelings. The tenderness and discreet bitterness arising from the movements matches the melancholic warmth of Presley’s voice in the background.

Le Grand Pas de Deux (1999) and Finale from the Seventh Blue (2000), both by Christian Spuck, incorporate humour in their content. The former is an overt parody of the conventions of the pas de deux. Clearly in the subversive line that has proved so successful in the hands of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, Spuck’s work is well-crafted and effective. Dancers Alicia Amatriain and Jason Reilly provoked bursts of laughter when dancing comic roles with loveable contention and seriousness. On the other hand, Finale contained a much lighter humorous touch. Created for an ensemble, it delights in the joy of dancing together, whether in complicit trios, couples or groups. It builds on the fun and playfulness of dance and allows dancers to show their more jubilant performing side. It was an excellent ending for a long, interesting but irregular evening of choreography made in Germany.