reviews


Tim Podesta’s unsettling creation for Ballet Cymru explores the darkness that lurks within us, disrupting our relationships with others. It is a work that shakes assumptions about love, gender and sexuality as he pitches his dancers into a series of disconcerting encounters. Although there is no narrative as such, we see a succession of incidents, all told with Podesta’s distinctive part-classical, part-contemporary movement vocabulary. The piece centres around Mara Galeazzi, but this is a company work: every dancer matters and they have all absorbed and internalised Podesta’s style, with its use of strongly arched backs, forward bends hinged at the hips, swift precise hand movements, lifts in which dancers move torso-to-torso, and unexpected pirouette turns spiralling out of one foot. (more…)

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Birmingham Royal Ballet’s triple bill at Sadler’s Wells was a delightful and varied evening of dance. The programme opened with Ruth Brill’s interesting 2017 work Arcadia, danced to John Harle’s stunning saxophone accompaniment. Tyrone Singleton, a sinuous and predatory representation of the god Pan, weaves in and out of shadows cast on the stage against a background of huge arching trees, lurking and watching three nymphs. Through the influence of the goddess Selene (the elegant Delia Mathews) he is reformed, shows more respect, and becomes a better leader. This wishful topical narrative seemed a little forced, but Atena Ameri’s stylish designs and Peter Teigen’s lighting were highly effective, and the Chorus performed their bouncy choreography with energy. (more…)

This show promised huge energy, masculine physicality and comedy, and it didn’t disappoint. Playing out the power shifts between an older and younger man, the piece cleverly portrayed an ever-changing relationship. At once reliant and rejecting, the pair circled each other endlessly (both literally and metaphorically), each trying to gain – or retain – dominance.

The opening sequence set a striking, almost macabre tone: a series of frozen tableaus depicting the power play between the two characters was set against a dramatic score and even more dramatic lighting.   From this intense beginning, a much lighter and more accessible office comedy then played out. A pared-down but very funny script was performed seamlessly by Joshua Thomson and Gavin Webber; there was such a sense of flow and ease that I wondered how much of this was improvised – clearly the two men were having a lot of fun, playing games and sparring with one another. (more…)

Dame Beryl Grey’s autobiography is both a personal memoir and the story of twentieth century English ballet told from the point of view of one of its leaders. It is fascinating to compare Peter Wright’s Wrights & Wrongs, which covers a similar ground, yet is utterly different; both writers have outlived most of their contemporaries, but Grey seems much the more discreet of the two.

Grey’s approach is chronological, starting with her birth into a happy and loving family, which instilled religious faith, a strong work ethic and respect for authority and British institutions (she is an unabashed royalist). Part One describes in detail her dancing life, as she quickly worked her way up through the ranks of the Sadler’s Wells company, becoming a principal of the Royal Ballet, before launching herself on an independent career, which included becoming the first Western ballerina to guest with the Bolshoi Ballet. Part Two covers her time as Director of Festival Ballet. (more…)

Ana Barbour’s  Rope, Rock, R… investigates and plays with various materials like a rope, wool, a stone, and experiments with the qualities of these often oppositional and complementary props. She does this with a virtuosity and variety of ideas, aesthetic and controlled use of movement which is a pleasure to watch. (more…)

The affectionate nomenclature “Bollywood” denotes films traditionally produced in Bombay (aka: Mumbai) and which employ some of the distinctive forties and fifties Hollywood narratives. As the program notes for Bring on the Bollywood explain:

“A journalist in the 1970s first coined the nickname for the Hindi film industry by replacing the H from Hollywood with the B from Bombay… which is the capital of the industry.”

The plot in a Bollywood film is filled with romance of one kind or another. Boy meets girl; they immediately fall in love but are then faced with bumpy obstacles so that they seem to fall in and out of love a few times until, finally, working through all these obstacles, they reach a happy ending which is celebrated with a HUGE party. (more…)

Choreographer Ieva Kuniskis’ work is exciting, moving and entertaining. First up last night, Encore was the debut performance by the Remarkable Dance Company. The dance opened with the entire cast in a closely gathered group, right arms raised, before they collectively followed a sequence of gestural movements. To music ranging from Eric Satie’s Je te veux and Csokolom’s Lulu Valse to Lou Reed’s Goodnight Ladies, they took us through a series of scenes that affirmed the dancers’ wit, experience and individuality. This was an outstandingly successful engagement between a choreographer and a group of older dancers, who are for the most part without vocational training. Some barefoot, others in shoes, they clearly wore what felt right (and what they could see in; at least two wore their spectacles).  (more…)

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