Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Fizzing! Ballet West's Rossini Cocktail

Gioachino Rossini
Author Vincenzo Canuccini
La Scala Theatre Museum, Milan
Source Wikimedia Commons

Ballet West Rossini Cocktail Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock, 3 Feb 2018, 19:30

I was inspired to start this publication by the students of Ballet West when I saw their performance of The Nutcracker at Pitlochry almost 5 years ago (see Ballet West's "The Nutcracker" 25 Feb 2013). I noted that Ballet West is a school as well as a company which reaches out to the public and in that performance it appeared that everyone had been given a go.  In The Nutcracker that is easy because there is a full scale battle in Act 1 and lots of divertissements in Act II. In Giselle there are far fewer divertissements and only so many ranks of wilis or villagers can cram on stage.

To show off the considerable talents of the dancers who could not be cast for Giselle, the company's choreographer, Daniel Job, created a delightful work to the music of Giaochino Rossini called Rossini Cocktail.  I mentioned it briefly in my review of Giselle but I did not begin to do justice either to the choreographer. designers and costume makers who created it or to the artists who danced it.

The programme explains that when Giselle was first performed it was a common practice to present a short unrelated production and that on that day it was the third act of Rossini's Moses in Egypt (Mosè in Egitto). Although I am not aware of any full length ballet by Rossini he did compose ballet interludes for his other operas of which the soldiers dance in William Tell is perhaps the best known. Rossini was born just before and died several years after Adolphe Adam, the composer of Giselle, and somewhat before that towering genius, Herman Severin Løvenskiold, who composed the music for what ought to be Scotland's if not the UK's national ballet.  The pieces that Job had selected for his dancers were gorgeous.  Delightful to hear and perhaps even more delightful to dance.

Rossini Cocktail was performed in two movements.   The first was danced by 33 senior members of the Associates Programme in Glasgow.  They were all in blue flowing dresses.   I counted 33 names in the programme.  All were good and some were outstanding.  I do not rise to my feet easily but I did so at the end of their performance. I am told by Gillian Barton that those young women would have met only one day in each month.  Some travel considerable distances a few from over the border. The Glasgow associates are trained by Jonathan Barton and Natasha Watson and the Edinburgh associates by Sara-Maria Barton. 

The second movement was danced by Ballet West's full time first year students who appeared in gold costumes.  All were impressive and some were excellent. I don't know the names of the dancers who impressed me most but I shall look forward to seeing them in subsequent shows with Ballet West - no doubt some in solo roles - and I am sure that several of them will have successful careers on stage.  I congratulate all the dancers in both groups. They have done well and any friends or relations who saw them on Saturday must be proud of them.

I enjoyed Giselle and Rossini Cocktail so much that I am coming back to Glasgow for more on Saturday. I seldom do that even for a show in Leeds or Manchester but this was the best show that Ballet West has performed to date. I can't wait to see what they can do in a large auditorium in a major city.


  1. for sure what ever they do will be amazing, and its not cos my son trained there, its the whole unique concept. whilst circumstances prevent my attendance i have seen first hand the work and love of ballet by the Barton family. Thank you for the bit of history dear writer. Rossini's music holds lovly memories for me. Dennis Saul