English National Ballet has had Suite en Blanc in its repertory for nearly 50 years, and yet by some odd act of omission it hasn't performed this treasure of a work since 1976. Set to a witty Spanish-inflected score by Edouard Lalos, Serge Lifar's ballet is the most supremely elegant of crowd-pleasers. Its opening tableaux alone is worth the price of a ticket, with its white-clad dancers posed in vertiginous formation over ramps and staircases, bodies as luminous architecture.
Now is a very good time to resurrect it. ENB has some interesting young talent rising through its ranks, and it's good to see them tackle the exquisitely chic, technical challenges that Lifar's choreography presents.
Brutally, it is just one dancer, Vadim Muntagirov, who rises fully to those challenges. Performing the Mazurka variation, the billowing height of his jump and the debonair hint of military flourish deliver true star quality. But there are several young men raising their game to match (including Yonah Acosta ? nephew of Carlos), and among the women, Elena Glurdjidze delivers a performance of quietly scintillating intelligence.
The rest of this mixed bill is as mixed as it could be. Two ballets by Wayne Eagling ? Resolution and Men y Men ? make a feature of dark shadows and introvert partnering. But there are flashes of energy, too ? a whiplash canon of spinning jumps, an explosion of supported pirouettes ? that bring a sharp, exhilarating lift to both works.
Also tucked into the programme is the Black Swan pas de deux, and a new work by Van Le Ngoc. Its tone shifts uneasily between acrobatically sexualised partnering and corny romance. But one duet allows Glurdjidze and her partner Junor Souza to dance with a moving depth of abandon.
Currently ENB feel like a company to watch ? and not just because of the TV series.