Lest we Forget Ballet Review

Thanks to Culture Vulture, our programme that encourages Feverites to go to cultural events and exhibitions to inspire creative thinking, we headed to Sadler’s Wells last week for the return of the award-winning ballet, Lest We Forget.

Debuting last year as part of the First World War commemorations at the Barbican, the English National Ballet returned with a trio of interpretations choreographed by some of the industry’s finest.

The first, No Man’s Land, explores the effect of the war not only on the men who were sent off to fight, but the women who were left behind. The scene starts with seven couples dancing an emotional goodbye; one part sees the women wrap their arms around their partners from behind, resembling the straps of back-packs they are set to carry. Next the stage splits to show the men making their way into the trenches, while the ‘Canaries’ – the women who packed explosives into bullets and shells – began their work in the factories, the monotony of their task evident. The dance culminates in a moving pas-de-deux, or duet, between a woman and the ghost of her lover who left for the war but did not return.

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The next dance, Second Breath, doesn’t follow a particular story line, rather the feelings of loss and trauma surrounding the war. The scene features a voiceover which recites not only the horrific numbers of the dead, but quotes from Dylan Thomas’s Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, and crescendos to a point where you wish it would end. Next two of ballet’s most prolific dancers, Alina Cojocaru and Junor Souza, dance a beautiful duet of forgotten love – partners who are now foreign to one another as a result of the separation of war.

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The final dance of the evening starts with the shocking image of a dancer writhing on the floor, tormented by his time on the battlefield. Fittingly titled Dust, this piece reminds us that although the First World War ended some time ago, the effect of the war for many never really ends.

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