|Chantry Dance Company: The Sandman|
(c) 2017 Chantry Dance Co: all rights reserved
Chantry Dance Company The Sandman Victoria Theatre, Halifax, 25 Sept 2017 19:30
When I first met Paul Chantry and Rae Piper they were literally a two-person and a dog company that had yet to acquire a dog (see Chantry Dance Company's Sandman and Dream Dance 10 May 2014). Now they are touring the nation with their first full-length ballet having recruited some pretty impressive young dancers on the way (see The Sandman Tour 27 Jan 2017). Those dancers include Isaac Peter Bowry whose career I have followed ever since he was a student at Ballet West (see Ballet West's The Nutcracker 25 Feb 2013) and Rebecca Scanlon who impressed me when I first saw in rehearsal her over two years ago (see Chantry Dance's Vincent - Rarely have I been more excited by a New Ballet 4 Sept 2017).
The ballet was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's tale Ole Lukøje though I think the libretto was entirely original. It centred around a husband and wife. The husband was danced by Paul Chantry and his wife by Rae Piper. The Sandman, Jack Beer, visits them and induces pleasant dreams with his multicoloured umbrella and nightmares with his plain black one. The ballet consists of a number of dream sequences - some jolly like the brightly coloured bubbled on transparent Pilates balls - and others disturbing with faceless dancers and crawling simonite creatures. The Sandman's umbrellas seem to represent good and evil. The husband is attracted to the black umbrella which leads him to a tavern where his wife is taken away. All she can do is revisit her husband as a dream.
Creating a ballet from scratch with an original libretto and an original score as well as some quite elaborate set and costume designs would have been a formidable task for very much bigger companies. I can't say that they got everything right. I lost the story in several places and Tim Mountain's score did not quite fit the mood at times but I enjoyed it a lot more than say Jonathan Watkin's 1984, Nixon's Beauty and the Beast and Christopher Wheeldon's Winter's Tale that I did not like at first and have since warmed to. I am sure that the company will iron out the bits that need improvement. They deserve congratulations for a successful production.
Before The Sandman, the company presented three new works created by young choreographers and performed by dancers from Studio 59. Chantry Dance is a small touring company but it is a great deal more than that. They are the missing link between hours of practice at the barre and performing on stage. They provide opportunities through their school, associate programmes and summer school to those with talent and ambition and they provide a sprinkling of stardust for the likes of me with their outreach programme. A lot of companies offer open classes for the general public. I have attended one of the best in Leeds for the last 4 years but for Paul and Rae education and outreach are central to everything they do.
The company will be in Sale tonight and then proceeds to Worcester, Greenwich, Stamford, Horsham and Andover (see the 2017 Tour Dates). If you can get to any of those performances you will be very well satisfied.