Review from Dance Europe, July 2012

by Diarmaid O'Meara

Irish National Youth Ballet presented a triple bill of original works in their most recent outing. Not only were the young dancers fortunate enough to be dancing bespoke, challenging choreography, but they were also afforded the beauty of an 18 piece orchestra.

The programme opened with String Serenade, very much in the vein of its Balanchine namesake. Set to sections of music used in its revered counterpart, Kilian O'Callaghan did a nice job of selecting appropriate choreography for the young ladies. A central pas de deux section was a fantastic showcase for Molly Smith and Julian Capolei - it was danced in a mature manner with nuanced drama. Among the corps de ballet, Meagan Hoare was elegant and Saoirse Delaney, who shone in last season's Nutcracker Suite, showed a lovely understanding of cambré and épaulement.

Kiss Me Kate was a chance for the younger members of the company, less experienced en pointe, to show their showbiz side. A danced interpretation of four numbers from the Cole Porter musical, it was the perfect vehicle for the two younger men in the troupe, Gearóid Solan and Cian Hughes, to show their sharp, detailed abilities.

The second half of the programme was a short ballet version of The Little Mermaid, choreographed by Stephen Brennan and set to Grieg. There was no set, but this didn't impact as the narrative was clear and Zia Holly's lighting and Alison Finn's costumes were enough to please the eye and clarify characters. As the eponymous mermaid, Jenna O'Riordan, again a dancer who stood out last season, was both convincing - dramatically and technically - and outstandingly musical. Strong too, was Kate Finn as the Sea-Witch; she got the best costume by far, some cracking steps and it was clear she enjoyed the role. It was a perfect work for a young company to hone their ballet technique and stagecraft.

Ireland now has a number of youth ballet companies, all doing good work; Irish National Youth Ballet more than justifies their Arts Council funding and long may director Katherine Lewis's work continue.

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