Saturday, 15 August 2015

Scotland the Brave

Source Wikipedia

Some of the most interesting new work over the next few months is likely to be performed in Scotland. Scottish Ballet will tour Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness and Aberdeen between the 25 Oct and 10 Oct with a triple bill consisting of Javier de Frutos's Elsa Canasta, Bryan Arlas's Motion of Displacement and Sophie Laplane's Maze.  The company will dance Cinderella which its artistic director, Christopher Hampson, created for the Royal New Zealand Ballet in 2007 in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness in December and January. In April and May Scottish Ballet will dance David Dawson's new Swan Lake in those same venues in the Spring.

I am looking forward to all those works. I am a great fan of Christopher Hampson and was very disappointed not to have the chance to shake his hand when he visited Leeds on 20 June 2015 (see My Thoughts on Saturday Afternoon's Panel Discussion at Northern Ballet 21 June 2015). I loved his Hansel and Gretel (see Scottish Ballet's Hansel and Gretel 23 Dec 2015), Four for Ballet Central (see Dazzled 3 May 2015) and Perpetuum Mobile for Northern Ballet (see Between Friends - Northern Ballet's Mixed Programme 10 May 2015). Hampson described his Cinderella as a study of grief in the Narrative Dance in Ballet discussion. Having seen two excellent but very different versions of Cinderella from Ballet Cymru and the Dutch National Ballet I shall be very interested in Hampson's interpretation of the story.

However, the performances to which I am looking forward even more than Cinderella are Laplane's Maze and Dawson's Swan Lake. Why those two in particular? Well Laplane is a dancer who has caught my eye more than once. Like Constant Vigier who contributed to Tell Tale Steps in Leeds last June she comes from France. Not long ago I would have struggled to name a woman choreographer other than Ninette de Valois and Bronislava Nijinska. Now there are several coming through strongly in this country and abroad. My interest in Dawson has been stimulated by his Empire Noir which I saw in Amsterdam in June (see Going Dutch 29 June 2015). Dawson has spent a lot of time with the Dutch National Ballet and he must know van Dantzig's Swan Lake very well. I wonder how much (if anything) of van Dantzig's style has rubbed off on to him.

I have had some other good news from Scotland which is that The Byre theatre will reopen today. I remember the original Byre which was literally a byre or cow shed. There was a notice in the auditorium requesting patrons in the front row to refrain from resting their legs on the stage. The Byre was forced to close for financial reasons early in 2013 and I feared that that great St Andrews institution might be lost forever. One of the shows that was to have been performed at The Byre was Ballet West's The Nutcracker but that had to be cancelled when the theatre went dark and I saw Ballet West at Pitlochry instead (see Ballet West's The Nutcracker 25 Feb 2013). It would be lovely if Ballet West could return to St Andrews. It may be too late for them to book a slot for 2016 but perhaps they can return with La Sylphide in  2017. The Byre would make a good venue for other companies such as Chantry Dance, Ballet Cymru, Ballet Black and maybe even Scottish Ballet. I was on the steering committee of the first St Andrews arts festival which brought that company to St Andrews on 15 Feb 1971 though the venue was the Buchanan and not the Byre.

It was at St Andrews that I learned to dance and appreciate ballet. I had spent my first 18 years without setting foot on any kind of dance floor not even a discotheque.  I think my first time on my feet was the Celtic Society's bejants' ceilidh when I was dragged protesting to make a third for the dashing white sergeant. Later I discovered ballet and took my first lessons in St Andrews. The first company that I got to know and love was Scottish Ballet (then called Scottish Theatre Ballet) and that company still has a special place in my affections and I am proud to be one of its Friends.

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