A Celebration of Bob Lockyer was less a celebration of the man than of his work. Lockyer has had a full career ranging from producer of award-winning dance programmes at the BBC, to chair of Dance UK and South-East Dance. His lengthy career has earned him the accolade of “one of the great heroes of British dance”. It is right that the celebration of a man for whom commissioning new work has always been of great importance was not a nostalgic affair but a forward-looking evening of commissions by - mostly - young choreographers. The evening further supported new work through its dual-function as a fundraiser, the proceeds of the event being contributed to two beneficiaries who support and commission dance: the Royal Philharmonic Society Drummond Fund and The Place’s Pioneering Fund.

In order to help him celebrate his 70th birthday in such style, Bob Lockyer asked some of his friends and colleagues to curate the evening, resulting in commissions from Monica Mason, Siobhan Davies and Wayne Mcgregor and choreography by Richard Alston, Robert Cohan and Mark Baldwin. The pieces were all short snippets, often too short to properly engage with but nevertheless provided a rare chance to see such a range of works and a selection of Britain’s best dancers in one place.

The evening began with two duets from student choreographers: one from Andy Macleman of London Contemporary Dance School and another from Sebastian Goffin of the Royal Ballet School. Both pieces were typical of their respective styles and training - often excessively so. Macleman’s Drone was moody yet reserved, drawing on a simple and refined vocabulary of movements. It was consistently calm but occasionally broken by sharp energetic spikes. Goffin’s Papillon was the opposite, a twee period drama in which a young man sought to woo his often coy lady. The couple danced as cellist Rebecca Herman and pianist Andrew Saunders practiced Dvorak’s Silent Woods in the shade of the trees - presumably with very little regard for practicality.

Further new work was championed by Siobhan Davies in the form of The Way It Works Is This... and Wayne Mcgregor’s commission Lake Maligne. The Way it Works Is This... was a reflexive, humorous response to the work of chronophotographer Etienne-Jules Marey. Lake Maligne had all the hallmarks of a McGregorian piece though choreographer Robert Binet toned down the full extent of bodily distortion that is characteristic of his mentor’s work and produced an often more pleasant piece of dance. In exposing Lake Maligne to such obvious comparison with Mcgregor’s recognisable signature style Binet was unable to highlight his own contributions and voice.

Interspersed throughout the evening were pieces by the more established veterans of contemporary dance. Mark Baldwin presented his Prayer alongside music by Julian Andersen, a regular collaborator of his. Richard Alston contributed three pieces: Isthmus, a new work to music by Jo Kondo; In Memory, choreographed on Richard Alston Dance Company by Robert Cohan i 1989; and Shuffle it Right, a lively and fitting finale to an evening of celebration.

A Celebration of Bob Lockyer, at The Place TheatreKit Brown reviews A Celebration of Bob Lockyer at The Place.