Friday, 23 May 2014

What could be more thrilling than a Ride on a Roller Coaster? A performance by Ballet Black!

Ballet Black, Triple Bill, The Atkinson, Southport 23 May 2014

I have just returned from Southport where I saw Ballet Black. They danced the works that I saw at the Linbury in February (see "Extra Special - Ballet Black at the Linbury 26 Feb 2014" 27 Feb 2014). It was the same programme but different - and different in a good way for I thought that they danced better than I had ever seen them dance before.

The first ballet was Limbo by Martin Lawrence which he set to a score by Hindemith.  As in February the male dancers were  Jose Alves and Jacob Wye but Isabela Coracy danced the female role. She interpreted it quite differently from Cira Robinson. Robinson is a remarkably graceful and elegant classical dancer. Coracy is a ball of energy and extremely strong. I have been a Coracy fan ever since I saw her dance Diana and Actaeon with Helenonilson Ferreira on YouTube (see "Ballet Black's New Dancers" 24 Sept 2013). That was the piece that I saw Michaela de Prince dance in Amsterdam ("The Junior Company of the Dutch National Ballet - Stadsshouwburg Amsterdam" 24 Nov 2013). Like de Prince Coracy has enormous potential and it is likely that she and de Prince will be compared throughout their careers.

As readers of this blog may have noticed, I am also something of a Marney fan (see "Christopher Marney" 16 March 2014).  He is the next guest of the London Ballet Circle on 2 June 2014. I shall be at the Civil Service Club to hear him speak. I hope I get a chance to shake his hand.  Two of a Kind, reminded me why I admire Marney so much.   Flowing and soaring with the most remarkable lifts the ballet expressed the ecstasy of love.  At least twice in her pas de deux, Robinson was turned literally head over heals.  Such a position could have been ungainly for most dancers but Robinson gave it beauty.  The choreography brought out the best in all the dancers, Damien Johnson, Kanika Carr and Christopher Renfurm as well as Robinson. I cannot tell whether it was a joy to dance - though I suspect it was - but it was certainly a joy to watch.

Having seen A Dream within Midsummer Night's Dream in February I concentrated on the detail. For the first time I noticed Carr's virtuosity: a remarkable samba on pointe and some spectacular fouettés. She has a most expressive face that can tell a story with a single glance and that was the quality that I had noticed before. I noticed the humour second time round. Sayaka Ichikawa as Helena beating off the attentions of Demetrius and Lysander (Alves and Wye).  Titania (Robinson)'s infatuation with Bottom (Alves). My companion yesterday evening (who is herself an accomplished dancer) said that she enjoyed Arthur Pita's Dream even more than David Nixon's. While I would not go quite that far because Nixon's ballet is special for me I certainly enjoyed Pita's very much indeed.

There were two pleasant surprises yesterday evening. The first was meeting Janet McNulty, one of the most authoritative contributors to BalletCo Forum. She has seen a lot of ballet and knows what she is talking about.  I look to her before most critics when I want to know something about a show. The second was meeting Cassa Pancho and bumping into some of the dancers in the foyer.  It was great to have an opportunity to tell then just how much we enjoyed the show though I think they must have known that already. The house was not quite as full as it might have been but the applause at the end was sustained and deafening. More than a few of us felt compelled to rise to our feet and that does not happen every day in ballet.

The company will be in Exeter on the 27 and 28 May and then Nottingham on the 2 July.  In the Autumn they will be back in Leeds.  If you live anywhere near those cities go see the show.


  1. Great review, Jane. Thanks so much for the mention and the compliment! I still maintain that Pita's 'Dream' tops Nixon's ever so slightly, I feel as a piece of emotional and resonant Dance Theater it really hit the mark. I'm still thinking about it and processing it now having had a few days to absorb it all and what really strikes me is the disappointment that I felt during the opening of the piece when the couples were presented in typical, formal ballet mode! As much as I do adore classical ballets, sometimes you need more than that and this version really did give that to me. I loved the textures and colours that the different couplings produced, particularly the carefree exuberance of Kanika Carr's samba en pointe with Sayaka Ichikawa and the way that Cira Robinson's infatuation with Alves becoming so consuming that she incorporated his movements into her physical language. I hope I will get the chance to see this piece again in Nottingham as it definitely requires a second viewing!

  2. Thank you for taking the trouble to comment, Mel. I don't think I was flattering you when I said you were an accomplished danced. We have the evidence here I agree with all your observations about the Pita work. The only reason why Nixon's is special is that something very wonderful happened I would also like to see the Ballet Black a third and maybe even a fourth time. They are coming to Leeds and I shall try to make it down to Nottingham.