Tuesday, 29 September 2015


Van Gogh "Sunflowers"
Source Wikipedia
Reproduced under GNU free documentation licence

On 27 Sept 2015 Chantry Dance performed Duology, their double bill at the Square Chapel in Halifax. Gita and I had already seen their rehearsal of Vincent - a stranger to himself when we visited their rehearsal studios earlier in the month and knew what to expect (see Chantry Dance's Vincent - Rarely have I been more excited by a New Ballet 4 Sept 2015). Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, however, was completely new.

I enjoyed both works but I think that the Nachtmusik was the better of the two. Ostensibly it was a tussle between Paul Chantry, Rae Pipler and David Beer for space on a settee that could seat three at a pinch but comfortably only two. Of course as two of the contestants were men competing for the attention of the female it developed into something of a love triangle. It was very cleverly choreographed by Chantry and Piper to Mozart's famous music and executed beautifully by the three.

Vincent which followed after the interval was an opportunity for the company's recruits, Rebecca Scanlon and Sorel de Paula Hanika, as well as some of their associates to shine. They were a credit to the company. I was particularly impressed by the appearance of their ghostly faces from behind a glass screen at the back of the stage. Beer, dressed in black, was a disturbing presence. Did he represent death or madness? Piper and Chantry were powerful and their last duet was particularly moving. The production was impressive even in rehearsal. It was magnificent on Saturday night.

After the show the company stayed on stage to answer questions from the audience. Helen Gavaghan asked whether the choreographers had read much about van Gogh before they started to create the ballet and learned that they had read loads. In particular, they had read the artist's letters to his brother. Someone else asked about the creative process, whether the music came first and how they developed the story.  Gita commented on the enormous progress the company had made since their last visit to Halifax. I asked them about their school (see If only I were young again - Chantry School of Contemporary and Balletic Arts 27 July 2014).

It was a good evening. My only disappointment was that the Square Chapel was nowhere near full. I knew that they had a full house in Grantham and Woolwich and a good turnout in Birmingham. Piper said that we had been a lovely audience and that the company hoped to return to Halifax but I can't help wondering whether they might do better at some other venues such as the Studio in Bradford or even the Stanley and Audrey Burton in Leeds where there is already an audience for contemporary ballet. Halifax is at the very extremity of the Leeds City Region, it is not as easy to reach by public transport as Bradford or Leeds and not everybody has heard of the Square Chapel. I think most of the Square Chapel audience would travel to Leeds to see Chantry Dance again. I do not know how many of the crowd who regularly turn out in mass for Phoenix or Rambert would trek out west however good the show.

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