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English National Ballet's Lest We Forget: Review
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English National Ballet's Lest We Forget: Review

Picture of Gina Chahal
Updated: 3 February 2017
The English National Ballet’s touching reflection of the First World War, Lest We Forget, takes to the stage at London’s Sadler’s Wells from 8th to the 12th September, before touring in Milton Keynes and Manchester. During its premiere in 2014, Lest We Forget moved audiences and went on to win this year’s South Bank Sky Arts Award for Dance.

The show features Akram Khan’s highly acclaimed piece Dust, which was performed to 30,000 people on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2014. In addition to this, the show includes two more works, choreographed by Russell Maliphant and Liam Scarlett, that recount the journeys of those on the war front and at home.

The performance is split into three parts, including two intervals. The first piece is No Man’s Land, which recounts both soldiers and civilians dreaming of those they’ve left behind. As the browns and blues of costumes and stark backdrop blend together, the stage reflects a factory during wartime. The choreographer, Liam Scarlett, truly outdoes himself here, as the dancers move seamlessly across the stage, allowing you to easily follow the story. Julia Richter, the pianist, accompanies the dancers with a wonderfully moving performance.

Moving onto the next piece, the show, Second Breath, is choreographed and directed by Russell Maliphant. Unlike No Man’s Land, Second Breath follows a less linear narrative. The accompaniment features parts of Dylan Thomas’ poetry, giving the music a more contemporary feel. This second piece is slightly up-tempo, making for an exhilarating performance. Lighting designer, Michael Hulls, created a hauntingly beautiful masterpiece, which stands out through the entire show. The dancers are cloaked in darkness as they move acrobatically and gracefully tumble across the low-lit stage.

The third and final piece, Dust, choreographed by Akram Khan, is poignantly evocative of the trenches in the First World War. The dancers create not only a moving performance but they also form their own trenches, allowing raw emotion to take the focal part of this piece. Jocelyn Pook perfectly scores these moments with her heartwarming composition. Khan, the 2014 winner of Best Modern Choreography at the 2014 Critic’s Circle National Dance Awards, has artfully created a stunningly moving art piece with the 24 dancers, which reflect the emotional strength of those involved in World War I.

For those who are new to this style of dance, Lest We Forget is sure to spark interest and even a love for ballet. For ballet aficionados and historians alike, Lest We Forget is a truly unforgettable, must-see show.

English National Ballet presents Lest We Forget runs until 12th September at Sadler’s Wells, followed by a tour in Milton Keynes and Manchester.

Tuesday – Saturday at 7.30pm, Thursday and Saturday at 2.30pm.

Tickets range from £12 to £45

Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Rosebery Avenue, London, UK, +44 20 7863 8000