What a curious evening: lots to sharpen the appetite, little to satisfy it. Ivan Putrov’s second Men in Motion programme again features Royal Ballet runaway Sergei Polunin; again, it is impossible to separate Polunin’s performance in Kasian Goleizovksy’s Narcisse from the media hoo-ha around him. First time round, Polunin’s soar, spring and final fall to the ground were taken to foreshadow his exit from the dance world. Now, more chillingly, his shadow looming large on the backcloth has grown more potent, a projected image threatening to engulf the man himself.
In L’Apres-midi d’un faune, Polunin becomes the goatboy wetting his whistle over nymph-women, but he doesn’t bring off the work’s achly stylised erotics. He’s more at home letting in James Dean, a portrait of another talented young man with a tortured soul, choreographed with his colleague Valentino Zucchetti. But it’s a preposterously overblown piece, and crashes badly at the end.
Tim Rushton’s Dying Swan brushes feminine mystique against Andrew Bowman’s bare-chested blokeishness – rather inconsequentially, I thought – while Nacho Duato’s lyrical male trio Remanso is more nuanced, flirting with feminine iconography (a red rose features prominently) even if its choreographic heart clearly belongs to its piano score.
Altogether more interesting are two solos of understated virtuosity working in smart partnership with their music: Tim Matiakis in Jorma Elo’s Round About Tim, which transposes the violin’s pluck and bow into clever stop-motion step sequences; and Putrov in Leonid Jacobsen’s Vestris, which draws out the dray sarcasm in its neoclassical score, simultaneously demonstrating and lampooning the various modes (bravura, dramatic, lyric and so on) of classical dance. But Russell Maliphant’s Two x Two, a slow build of taut geometric drama with Dana Fouras and Jesse Kovarsky, is the only number that really hits the spot. Fouras, firmly planted and forthright, is its lynchpin; and she is definitely not a man in motion.