The Theatre at Chipping Norton in the heart of the leafy Cotswold countryside is a picturesque small venue, which provided the dancers of Ballet Central, the graduate performing company of Central School of Ballet, with a warmly welcoming family audience and an almost full house for their annual visit. The lopsided stage is narrow but deep, giving viewers in the side galleries problematic sightlines, but this is made up for by intimacy and potential connection between viewers and doers. The company earned my profound respect for their ability to fit energetic ensemble dancing into this space without any problems or collisions.

This year’s programme promised storytelling with iconic ballet titles such as Black Swan, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. These were not simply cut down versions of full-scale classics, but re-workings made for touring and playing to the strengths of this company of talented youngsters in an unashamedly narrative conception of ballet. All set against the neutrality of black drapes, enlivened and given a sense of place by the use of props, and designer Dante Baylor’s colourful often asymmetric costumes which brought both variety and a sense of overall stylistic unity to the evening. (more…)

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Central School of Ballet’s renowned graduate performing company Ballet Central brings its annual nationwide tour to The Theatre, Chipping Norton on Saturday 2nd June at 7.45 pm. Under the artistic direction of Christopher Marney, Ballet Central’s diverse range of dance and theatre will be performed in 20 towns and cities in England and Wales across a five month period.

This season’s breadth of repertoire is testament to the distinguished choreographers that support the young dance company: Matthew Bourne of New Adventures honours Ballet Central with the Fairies Prologue from his gothic-reworking of Sleeping Beauty and, for the first time, Ballet Central will present an excerpt from FAR by multi award-winning choreographer and director Wayne McGregor.

After the success of last year’s Romeo & Juliet, choreographer Jenna Lee returns to Ballet Central with her brand new creation Black Swan, a dark twist on the iconic classic.

To celebrate the life and work of Kenneth MacMillan, Ballet Central introduces an excerpt from his rarely-seen 1983 ballet Valley of Shadows inspired by Georgio Bassani’s haunting novel The Garden of the Finzi-Continis.

And finally, to close this year’s performance, Christopher Marney will revive scenes from Christopher Gable’s Cinderella on the 25th anniversary of its creation. Set to an acclaimed score by Ballet Central’s resident composer Philip Feeney, this is a timeless version of a much-loved fairy tale.

Ballet Central is the touring company of Central School of Ballet in London, one of the leading centres for professional dance training and education. Students in the final year of their three-year BA (Hons) degree course in Professional Dance and Performance join Ballet Central to gain invaluable touring experience before graduation, enabling them to join premier dance companies.  Recent Central graduates are currently employed with Birmingham Royal Ballet, Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures Company, English National Ballet, Scottish Ballet, Ballet Ireland, National Ballet of Estonia, Ballet Black, Northern Ballet, K Ballet, Rambert Dance Company, Phoenix Dance Theatre, Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, Singapore Dance Theatre, Michael Clark Company, The Lion King, Phantom of the Opera and An American in Paris.

Performance:  Saturday 2nd June 7.45pm

Venue:  The Theatre Chipping Norton, 2 Spring Street, Chipping Norton, Oxon OX7 5NL

Tickets:  Adults £15.50, concessions £13.50

Book online here, or call the Box Office on 01608 642350

For more information visit: www.balletcentral.co.uk and www.centralschoolofballet.co.uk

Twitter: @balletcentral
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/_ballet_central_/

Although a range of contemporary dance companies come intermittently to the Playhouse it seems a very long time indeed since a ballet company has performed there. Possibly the closest in recent years have been BalletBoyz and Michael Clark, but these groups however rooted in ballet technique have moved far away from classical tradition and the pointe shoe; arguably Richard Alston’s elegant lyricism has had a more balletic feel. So Ballet Black’s unabashed embrace of classical technique in chamber format came as a welcome and refreshing change to the Playhouse’s usual dance diet. Eight performers of diverse backgrounds and physical individuality come together as an ensemble in their generous and idealistic dancing, relishing ballet’s lyrical line and romantic feeling in movement, engaging the audience with their enthusiasm in a programme of three new works tailor made for the company. (more…)

The exuberant and gifted Ballet Black, now celebrating their 15th year, make their first appearance at Oxford Playhouse with their inspiring triple bill on Friday 10 June.  Dancer Cassa Pancho founded Ballet Black in response to the need to provide exciting opportunities for black and ethnic minority dancers in classical ballet.

The night presents three works each from different choreographers, spanning differing styles and showcasing the breadth of Ballet Black’s dance portfolio and the extensive skill of their dancers. Christopher Hampson’s Storyville is the bittersweet fable of Nola, a farm girl who falls prey to unscrupulous characters and world desires in 1920s New Orleans. The programme also includes two newly devised pieces: To Begin, Begin by Christopher Marney, and Cristaux by Arthur Pita.  This triple bill combines the bold inventiveness of the choreographers with the ambition and flair of the dancers to present a collection of narrative and abstract dance.

About the company: Ballet Black is a professional ballet company for international dancers of black and Asian descent. It aims to bring ballet to a more culturally diverse audience by celebrating black and Asian dancers in ballet. The company perform and offer community driven classes for dancers and students, young and old.  Their ultimate goal is to see a fundamental change in the number of black and Asian dancers in mainstream ballet companies, making that vision wonderfully unnecessary.

Performance:  Friday 10th June, 8.00pm

Venue:  Oxford Playhouse, Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2LW

Tickets:  £11.50-£22 available online here or call the box office on 01865 305305

Running time: Approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes including an interval.

Find out more about this award winning company here

Ballet Black’s innovative programme of new work opened with Robert Binet’s Egal, to music by Bertelmann and Hahn, danced by the beautiful and athletic Cira Robinson with Jacob Wye, a First Year Apprentice with the company. An abstract work, with a sense of a story, it explored the relationship between an equally matched couple with strength, balance and energy. Robinson’s every movement has its own equilibrium, shown particularly in the perfectly counterpoised spins as she swings around her partner. She shows a strong internal logic and an awareness of both the source and destination of each movement, which makes her an extremely satisfying dancer to watch. (more…)