Friday, 22 March 2019

Chelmsford Ballet's Seventieth Anniversary Show

Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing
Author: Willliam Blake
Source Wikipedia, A Midsummer Night's Dream

Chelmsford Ballet Company A Midsummer Night's Dream 20 March 2019 19:30 Chelmsford Civic Theatre

It is very hard for me to review a performance by the Chelmsford Ballet Company objectively because I am an associate member of the company. As I live in Yorkshire I cannot participate in its performances but I have attended all its shows since 2014 and even one of its AGMs.  I am very proud of my connection with the company.   I have come to expect a lot from the Chelmsford Ballet and its dancers have always delivered.   This year's show was no exception.

The evening was in three parts:  it opened with preparations for Hippolyra's wedding to Theseus. It then switched to Coppelia starting with the dolls' scene.  That comprised the whole of the first act.  The second act was a transposition of the play without Pyramus and Thisbe. A computer-generated graphic flashing the years back to 1949 indicated why Coppelia had been substituted for the play within a play.  Coppelia had been the company's first full-length ballet so there was no need for a lion, wall or even a man in the moon which would not have been easy for a choreographer transpose into dance.  There are also some parallels between Hermia and Swanhilda in that Franz makes a pass at the strange new girl reading a book upside down.  Is that is reading too much into the juxtaposition of Athenian wood and Swabian village?

Although I love Coppelia I enjoyed the second act much better than the first.  It told the story beautifully.  It started with the quarrel over the changeling boy and continued with the troubles of the lovers, Puck's blunder, Titania's infatuation with Bottom and the final reconciliation.  I think Annette Potter was right to include Coppelia into the 70th-anniversary production though it might have been better to have Midsummer Night's Dream with an extract of Coppelia as part of a double bill.

There were some memorable performances.   Andrew Potter danced both Dr Coppelius and Oberon.  James Fletcher was a hilarious Botton.  Olivia Riley was a splendid Puck.  Women can often dance that role at least as successfully as men as Isabela Coracy has shown in Arthur Pita's version for Ballet Black. Titania, the fairies, lovers all danced well and all deserve congratulations.

I have already mentioned the computer-generated graphics. Whoever created them for Chelmsford Ballet is a genius. I am surprised he or she has not been snapped up by New Adventures years ago.  I think that artist's best work was the overgrown palace in The Sleeping Beauty.   The other things the company does particularly well are the costumes. They were gorgeous.  Particularly the fairies' tutus and in some cases headgear.

Wednesday's opening night was attended by both of the company's patrons,  Doreen Wells and Christopher Marney.  Readers of this blog will know I have always been one of Marney's fans. Wells, who danced with what was then called the Touring Company, was one of the big names when I began to follow ballet. She was and remains one of my favourite dancers. The city's lord mayor was in the audience resplendent in her chain of office.  It was, altogether, a very good evening.   Well worth the long drive from Holmfirth.

No comments:

Post a Comment