Monday, 23 June 2014

A Wonderful Evening - Northern Ballet's Mixed Bill 21 June 2014

I am very grateful to Mel for her excellent review of Northern Ballet's Mixed Programme (see Mel Wong "Kenneth Tindall - The Architect of Ballet" 21 June 2014). She saw the show on Wednesday at the start of the company's short season at the Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre.  I saw it on Saturday night at the end of the run and loved it too. It was a wonderful evening. For me Concerto 622 was the most joyful of the three works, Concertante the most elegant and The Architect the most thrilling.  

I think I am more of a Lubovitch fan than Mel. Concerto 622 was just my cup of tea. I was close to tears for most of that performance, partly because of the intrinsic beauty of the ballet and partly because of the connotations in that it reminded me of Jerome Robbins's Dances at a Gathering which I will always associate with Antoinette Sibley.  In my view the most beautiful part of the ballet was the Adagio. This was a pas de deux by Giuliano Contadini and Matthew Koon. I don't have a video of those dancers but you can appreciate the choreography from this video which has been uploaded by Lubovitch. I particularly liked the butterfly sequence.  Others may have had other relationships in mind but the tenderness between those dancers put me in mind of my 3 year old grandson manqué and his doting dad.

Like Mel I am a van Manen fan and have been for many years. Almost a contemporary of Maurice Béjart, John Cranko, Peter Darrell and Kenneth MacMillan he is the last of the great choreographers of my youth. I had the good fortune of seeing him take a curtain call at the first performance of the Dutch National Ballet Junior Company last November. A van Manen ballet is rather like Palladian architecture. There is order and proportion in the choreography, costumes and score. For this work Northern Ballet deployed its stars, Martha Leebolt and Tobias Batley, who were well supported by Giuliano Contadini, Hannah Bateman, Jessica Morgan, Nicola Gervasi, Abigail Prudames and Isaac Lee-Baker.

The tour de force was The Architect by Kenneth Tindall. This is the third of his works that I have seen this year and it is by far the best (see my review of Luminous Jun*cture  in Angelic - Northern Ballet's Mixed Bill 9 June 2013 and mention of Bitter Earth in More Things I do for my Art - Autumn Gala of Dance and Song 30 Sept 2013). It is a multi layered ballet that has to be seen more than once to be understood fully. It can best be described as a creation myth that somehow combines Genesis with genetics. There was the story of the forbidden fruit and the fall of man but there was also a double helix and 4 sets of characters on each male dancer left breast which seemed to me to be DNA sequences from where I was sitting. The choreography was spectacular as was the dancing and Christopher Giles's set was out of this world. There were what appeared to be three bamboo canes each with a living being inside it and a lattice structure like the Eiffel tower through which the dancers crashed and dived towards the end.

As I said above The Architect is a ballet that has to be seen more than once and probably many times to be understood properly. Happily we will all get the chance to see the ballet and study it as often as we need because it is to be filmed. Two weeks before the première of The Architect Tindall and Bateman appealed for funding for the filming on Kickstarter (see "Tindall's Architect - How to Get a Piece of the Action - Literally" 7 June 2014) and I am glad to say that they met their target with just hours to spare ("They made it" 20 June 2014). I an proud to say that both Mel and I put £10 each into the pot and I for one am looking forward to the result.

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