Thursday, 14 July 2016

Ballet Black's First Friends' Event: A Rehearsal with Chris Marney

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Last Monday I was lucky enough to watch Christopher Marney rehearse Damien Johnson, Isabela Coracy, Jacob Wye and Sayaka Ichikawa in To Begin Begin at the Barbican Centre.  That is a ballet which David Murley reviewed in Ballet Black at The Barbican on 22 March 2016 and I reviewed in Ballet Black made my Manchester Day on 20 June 2016.

Readers of this blog know that I have a particularly high regard for Marney (see my appreciation Christopher Marney 16 March 2016). When I first published my appreciation of Christopher this blog received more hits than it had ever done before. I tweeted about it and my tweet was noticed by Sir Matthew Bourne who replied that he was not surprised because Christopher Marney is a genius. Who am I to to argue with Sir Matthew even if I disagreed with him on this matter which I don't. The chance of seeing a genius at work with some of my very favourite dancers was compelling.

Chris rehearsed two pas de deux:  first Damien and Isabela and then Jacob and Sayaka.  I was aware of his sensitivity to music and had surmised that he would have a great eye for detail but I was still amazed by its extent. Points like the way Isabela fell into Damian's arms and his insistence on their keeping eye contact as she bent back or how Sayaka and Jacob rolled up towards each other in a length of blue silk were repeated until Chris and the dancers were happy that the effect was right. They did that energetically and enthusiastically for there is something in Chris's voice and manner that would inspire an artist. At the end of each session we saw a finished performance of the work on which Chris and the dancers had been working.

After the rehearsals of the two pas de deux Marney invited questions from the audience. One of the first questions was "What comes first the story and the music."  It was no surprise to me that Chirs replied that it was the music. He listens to a lot of music, he said, particularly on Classic FM. Someone asked Cassa which of Manrey's ballets she liked best. She replied "Dogs Don't Do Ballet". I asked about the transposition of War Letters which he had created for Ballet Black to the students of Ballet Central. I observed that although the students had not yet gained the same experience of life as the dancers of Ballet Black their production had a poignancy of its own as the students were the same age as the men sent to war and the girls who were left behind. Cassa mentioned that she sent one of her dancers to Ballet Central to help them prepare that show.

The reason I was invited to the rehearsal is that I am one of the Friends of Ballet Black and this was its first event (see Ballet Black's Friends Scheme 2 April 2016). I got the opportunity to meet some of the other Friends over tea and cake.  Some I already knew from the London Ballet Circle but others were just starting to follow ballet. It was a particular pleasure to meet Bill Boyd whom I had known through Facebook and BalletcoForum for a while but had never actually met. The tea party offered a chance to chat informally with Cassa, Christopher and the dancers. They probably already know that their public love them but it never hurts to tell them once in a while.

Post script

Ballet Black are performing at To Begin, Begin  and other works at the following venues in the Autumn:

ENFIELD, LONDON: 27th & 28th September

STRATFORD, LONDON: 6th - 8th October

NEWCASTLE: 11th & 12th October

LEEDS: 14th & 15th October

GLASGOW: 28th & 29th October

DONCASTER: 2nd November

EXETER: 9th & 10th November

WATFORD: 15th November

ESSEX: 16th NovemberLICHFIELD: 18th November

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