Thursday, 7 November 2013

Ballet Black is still special

You can see the same company perform the same works with many of the same dancers in two different venues and come away feeling that you have seen two different shows.  Why is that?  I think it is because each theatre has a different atmosphere. And each audience interacts differently with the cast.

Yesterday evening I saw Ballet Black's Quadruple Bill at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre in Leeds. Exactly the same show as I had seen at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham 6 months ago (see "Why Ballet Black Is special" 20 May 2013).  And yet it wasn't the same show.  There were different dancers and a very different audience.  The audience in Leeds last night was predominately white, female and middle aged and probably drawn largely from comfortable North Leeds suburbs like Bramhope and Headingley or towns like Harrogate and Ilkley. The sort you see in Bettys who had almost certainly seen and possibly even studied a little ballet before.  The audience in Tottenham was younger, more racially mixed, there were far more young men and from conversations that I overheard in the Blooming Scent and the queue for the loo there were many for whom that performance was their first experience of ballet

Sayaka Ichikawa and José Alves danced Dopamine very differently from the way it had been performed by Sarah Kundi and Jazmon Voss.  Ichikawa is a delicate dancer and her movements are precise.  She revealed detail in Ondviela's choreography that I had missed before.  Alves partnered Ichikawa with equal precision and grace.  The adjective that I scrawled on my cast list was "pretty".  My notes last May contained the nouns "elegance" and "power".

Powerful is an adjective that I would use for Isabela Coracy, one of the company's two new dancers. We saw something of that power in the YouTube clip that I inserted into my article "Ballet Black's New Dancers" on 24 Sept.  She reminded me of dancers of the Soviet era like Maya Plisetskaya and I was not surprised to read in the cast list that she had toured Russia extensively.  She shone in Frutos's The One Played Twice.  This was also our first opportunity to see the company's other new hire, Christopher Renfurm who performed fluently. In that ballet they danced with Damien Johnson and Cira Robinson who are regarded as Ballet Black's stars and were not eclipsed.

The last work before the interval was Robert Binet's Egal, elegantly danced by Kanika Carr and Jacob Wye.  I had seen Carr in that role May but yesterday she was partnered deftly by Jacob Wye.

Christopher Marney's War Letters is a very moving piece and it resonated with the audience in Leeds last night even more than it had done in London.  Possibly because it was danced in poppy season.  Two movements brought many including me close to tears.  The hospital visit to a seriously wounded soldier and the Winter coat.  Beautiful chorepgraphy giving every dancer an opportunity to show what he or she can do.

Though I do miss Kundi and would love to see her dance again I enjoyed yesterday evening's show at least as much as the one in May.  I can't wait until February when I shall see them in their home in Covent Garden.

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