Emily Suzuki and Isaac Hernandez in Blake Works I by William Forsythe ()

Emily Suzuki and Isaac Hernandez in Blake Works I by William Forsythe ()

The Rite of Spring is a score that often brings out the beast in a dance company. Loads of dancers, lashes of fury, trampling to an agonizing human sacrifice. It wasn’t the choice of Swedish choreographer Mats Ek, whose new version transforms Stravinsky’s sensational music into a chamber piece about a young woman who resists her culture. It is thoughtful but disappointing.

A wedding is prepared. The family, in Marie-Louise Ekman’s pajama costumes with a pearl pink sheen, dance in sync but without visible affection. Emily Suzuki’s rebellious daughter runs across the stage, jumping from side to side or heading for the exit, as if she hopes to escape fate. No such luck: she is encased in a sculptural white dress and veil.

Marriage appears to be a male affair, but the beardless daughter and her husband (Fernando Carratalá Coloma) finally find space on their own. Apprehensively, they fold around each other until her daughter throws her veil to the ground. They unwind each other in a tactile and playful duet, carefully uncovering their bodies in private desire rather than common duty.

The community interrupts their idyll, with floor-devouring jumps and prohibitive weapons in sharp diagonals. The women beat her daughter with their robes – none of her with more anguish and disgust than Erina Takahashi’s mother – while her father (James Streeter) pecks her like a grotesque rooster.

Dancers in Take Five Blues by Stina Quagebeur

Dancers in Take Five Blues by Stina Quagebeur

Stravinsky’s frenzy suggests both her daughter’s frustration and the relentless tradition that hangs over her. Ek’s versions of ballet classics always push hard on victimhood and her Rite flows into melodrama. ENB’s repertoire also includes Pina Bausch’s cataclysmic Rite of Spring, an undisputed modern classic. It’s interesting to see Ek’s version, which endures unbridled tragedy, but despite busy dancing and live music, this feels like a lukewarm response to a heartbreaking soundtrack.

Previously, Tamara Rojo’s final program as director of ENB played two of her recent hits: a perfect pop piece and a winning jazz piece. Blake Works I, by the American maestro William Forsythe, beautifully interprets a classical structure through seven songs by James Blake. The rigorous and skillful technique unravels with ease, along with Blake’s melancholy voice, aching and crackling.

Dancers seem to love this piece – it’s so pleasing to watch. Flirty hips, swaying shoulders, big woofer leaps: virtuoso stuff, but performed with absolute confidence. The men are exceptional and Suzuki shines again, grappling with Junor Souza in a wonderfully evasive duet.

Stina Quagebeur extends her block hit Take Five Blues, set to Nigel Kennedy’s jazz violin. She is a nimble delight. Under the globe lanterns with their soft apricot glow, the dancers glide across the floor. They could almost joke on the go; Ken Saruhashi’s pointed arms scribble in the air and the piece has the fervor of a cheeky lock-in.

Sadler’s Wells, until November 12; sadlerswells.com

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