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Ballet Central Tour 2013

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Ballet Central were at the Lowry on Monday evening (25th March).  There are three excellent reasons for going to see Ballet Central - the opportunity to see the potential stars of the future, new choreography and, of course, Philip Feeney.  Monday evening did not disappoint on any count.


To give the dancers maximum opportunity and to show off various styles the programme is always choc full of shorter pieces and, indeed, we saw 8 pieces in this performance.


The evening started with a new work by Kenneth Tindall (a leading dancer with Northern Ballet), with music by Philip Feeney.  The piece is for three men and three women.  I suppose I would describe the style as "edgy" for the most part but there are some sculpted poses and a nice lyrical pdd.  I very much enjoyed this piece and it was a great evening opener.


Next up was the Fireside pdd from Christopher Gable's Cinderella.  I always find this duet incredibly moving and it tells the story so beautifully.  The move where the Prince throws off his jacket and tells Cinderella that he is an ordinary man is the point where I normally dissolve into blubber and Monday was no exception!  Alice Laidler was increbibly expressive as Cinderella, the tiniest gesture took on meaning - she really quite took my breath away.  Her Prince was Joshua Earl - a tall elegant dancer.  For me, they were very well matched in this duet.


This was followed by Love on Top choreographed by Stacey Haynes - a jazzy number that would grace the stage of a West End Musical and danced with verve and panache by the 6 dancers.


A classical duet by Resmi Malko followed - Vocalise - well danced by Giulia Pazzaglia and Thomas Edwards.


The final piece before the first interval was Insinuare by Leanne King and Sara Matthews - a flowing contemporary piece that showed the 11 dancers off to excellent effect.


Part 2 started with the uber-classical Florestan pas de trois from Sleeping Beauty.  I thought the three dancers - Giulia Pzzaglia, Abigail Stopher and Thomas Edwards were terrific in this testing classical piece.


Then onto Darshan Singh Bhuller's Maping #3, which was a piece of 2 halves.  The first was contemporary, flowing and exciting and then the second half was absolutely ingenious.  The dancers were lying on the floor and a camera showed the film of them moving on a screen at the back of the stage which made them look as though they were upright.  It was tremedous fun!


Part 3 had one work - Christopher Marney's anon.  This was about a girl who day-dreamed her books to life and gave the company an opportunity to show their acting skills - and in that they were definitely not lacking!  Bethany Pike was a delight as the Girl and Lee Hoy has enormous fun as the Postman.  All the dancers performed with gusto and it was a fun way to end the evening.


This is a great programme showcasing young dancers on the verge of a professional career.  Go and see it if you can!

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I was also at the performance Janet but to be honest I found it a little slow moving in places. However I do agree that the piece set in collaboration with Central St Martins College was amazingly ingenious and I enjoyed 'anon' very much too.

It was a shame there were so many empty seats but the dire weather had no doubt prevented some from attending.

Just my opinions!

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Very much looking forward to seeing them in Newbury again this year - they are again part of the N Spring Festival, and as the Corn Exchange is quite small, there is always a satisfyingly full house. They are always really good value. Than you, Janet, for that first post - I shall print it out and take it along!

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About a week ago I reviewed this show on DanceTabs - it's a sadness to me that few of the dance critics see their tour and cover them.


I'm a huge supporter of the idea of the tour, but of course that doesn't mean I like everything. We got some nice pictures from the company so I thought I would paste up my thoughts as is from DanceTabs - if the formating is a bit odd do forgive. And the pictures are larger then if I had formated for the forum - that said they do look brill. Not sure if Janet saw my thoughts but there are a few common themes...



Ballet Central
2013 Tour: Signature 31/30, Fireside pas de deux from Cinderella,
Love on Top, Vocalise, Mapping #3, Florestan Pas de Trois from Act 3 The
Sleeping Beauty, Insinuare, anon

London, UAL Platform Theatre
7 March 2013
UAL Platform Theatre

An old friend of a show in a new venue for me – and both come out rather well in the wash.

The UAL Platform Theatre is just North of Kings Cross station in an
area of urban renewal with much building still going on. We drove there
and eventually found some on-street parking but the compensation was
drinks well less than half the price of those in normal theatres, comfy
seats in a 300-seat theatre and good views of the stage.

The Ballet Central tour is renowned for having lots of dance variety.
In this show there were 8 pieces – ranging from musical theatre to
ballet (old and new) to full-on contemporary. Much of the content is
newly commissioned too, with a mix of younger and more experienced
choreographers. It’s serendipity and I always find something that raises
my spirits.

Here are my notes and thoughts as the night unfolded…

Signature 31/30
Kenneth Tindall
Tindall is the Northern Ballet dancer who seems to be doing more as a
choreographer. Nice to see him here: he trained at Central School and
did the tour he is now choreographing for. Signature 31/30
started as ‘edgy’ modern with a Thom Willems (think Forsythe)-style
sound track of rolling electronic thunder (actually by Philip Feeney).
Just when you are starting to wonder where it might go it morphs into a
more classical pas de deux. It’s respectable movement and there were
some good-looking clever plays with a line of dancers towards the end.
The 3 boys looked strong in this – particularly in the first couple of
minutes. It’s the second piece of Tindall that I’ve seen and he’s
finding his tone – he needs lots more commissions.



Alice Laidler and Joshua Earl in the Fireside Pas de Deux from Cinderella.
© Bill Cooper. (Click image for larger version)

Fireside Pas de Deux from Cinderella
Christopher Gable and set by Carole Gable
This has been seen a few times on Ballet Central tours and is a stern
dramatic (and dance) test. It’s actually the final moments of the ballet
and a complete love story in its own right as bashful love is kindled,
becomes almost abandoned in its happiness and then growing contentment
of the life to come – all in less than 10 minutes. My goodness, it shows
the late lamented Gable as a glorious movement communicator. Rather
than use Prokofiev, a custom score came from Philip Feeney and it
beautifully amplifies the action and tugs the heart. Gable created his Cinderella
for Northern Ballet (NB), where he was the much-loved director at the
time, and it is a tragic shame that NB are planning a new version of Cinderella
instead of bringing this one back. Alice Laidler proved a terrific
Cinderella – one of those dancers who can stand there and tell a story
with the merest flickers of movement and eyes – a real catch I fancy for
a strong dramatic company. Joshua Earl, as the prince, looked
heart-throb tall and princely cool – they are very different dancers.
Just based on Laidler, my ballet hit of the night.

Love on Top
Stacey Haynes
A West End razzmatazz-and-musicals piece to Michael Buble and Beyonce.
Leggy girls in sequins ‘n’ heels, clean-cut boys in black trousers,
white shirts and black ties. Great fun, great versatility and all gone
in 5 minutes. I don’t know any other school that includes dance like
this – and I love the reminder of a wider dance world.



Michaela Guibarra and Tom Broderick in Love on Top.
© Bill Cooper. (Click image for larger version)

Resmi Malko
Malko is a classical teacher at the school. My goodness this was strange
with a straightforward classical pdd performed to some very emotional
Rachmaninoff and a wailing female voice. It seemed rather incongruous to
me but the dancers, Giulia Pazzaglia and Thomas Edwards, managed to
deliver a performance better than the source material. I have this vague
feeling I missed something!

Mapping #3
Darshan Singh Bhuller
My dance hit of the night by some margin and really two distinct pieces.
The headline choreographer of the tour and within seconds you can see
it’s the work of somebody who knows what they are doing, as meaty,
dynamic movement bursts fourth in inventive solos and small groups. But
while the individual movement is strong it’s the spaces between the
dancers and the harmony on the wider stage I also appreciated, with
dancers rapidly windmilling on and off stage. It’s not filigree dance
but powerful movement that demands you watch. It’s also enhanced, at
times, by some random gobo side projections onto the dancers to create
dazzling patterns.



Thomas Edwards and Bethany Pike in Mapping #3.
© Bill Cooper. (Click image for larger version)

If that had been it I’d have left for the interval very happy, but
then the piece morphs into visual fun as the dancers become seen from
the viewpoint of a camera over the stage and move on the floor so they
appear on screen to be walking, balancing or running etc – it’s the
world tilted through 90 degrees and gives a flickery, charming and
vaguely ham-fisted movement that is irresistible watching.

Mapping #3 (the third version of an evolving work) is a hell of a find and needs a bigger life.

Florestan Pas de Trois from Act 3 The Sleeping Beauty
Petipa/Ashton staged by Carole Gable
A hard classical test and Thomas Edwards registered again as neat and
fast. The girls looked a little less happy at the moment though I
suspect it will bed down as the tour continues. But it’s a reminder that
pure classical work remains a stern and unforgiving test.



Front cover of the programme – Léa Bridarolli in Florestan Pas de Trois from Act 3 The Sleeping Beauty.
© Bill Cooper. (Click image for larger version)

Leanne King and Sara Matthews
A contemporary piece of free flowing work. I always look to Matthews to
do something uplifting for lots of the students, making them all look
good and showing us a stage full of wonderful hope. And so it was this
year. The focus is on the students rather than the flowing choreography
and it’s a last piece of dance proper before the headline dramatic work
that closes out the show.

Christopher Marney
Sadly I have to declare that I don’t much like this at all – which is
odd for a send-them-home-happy piece. Marney, like Tindall who opened,
is an old boy of the school and has latterly learned his movement trade
as a Matthew Bourne New Adventures associate. And from Bourne you see a
telling of the story with welcome crystal clarity – in this case a
bookish girl for whom the books come alive, and eventually a hero sweeps
her off her feet. It’s tightly focused in it’s 20 or so minutes with
much well-observed humour and great costuming. But, as with his recent War Letters
for Ballet Black, I found too much of the story not told in dance and
the constant slipping into a bit of dance and then stopping for mime
really unsatisfying and unnecessary. To me it’s not telling a story in
dance but acting a story with the addition of danced sections. But I
have to say the audience seemed much happier and it’s a good dramatic
test for the 11 students involved.



Jacob Bradford, Reece Causton, Victoria Nystrom, Lee Hoy, Bethany Pike, Jack Cussans and Aisling Brangan in anon.
© Bill Cooper. (Click image for larger version)

While I wasn’t wowed by the closer, as I left I couldn’t stop talking
about the Bhuller and Gable and wishing to see major companies put them
both on in full. That and the usual thought: Another year, another fine
night from Ballet Central – well done all.

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I've just discovered that the tour isn't visiting South Hill Park at Bracknell this year. So disappointed - I'll have to work out where else I can get to.

Hopefully some of the other dates will work for you:



And South Hill Park is host to a visit from Ballet Black on the 21 April - very worthwhile seeing.

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  • 4 weeks later...

A slightly delayed post from me about Ballet Central's show at Hertford last Sunday. Dd and I very much enjoyed the show although sadly the theatre wasn't as full as last year. I did find the programme quite short as even with an interval we were done and dusted in an hour and three quarters.


My stand-out favourite pieces were the Fireside PDD from Cinderella, and Darshan Singh Bhuller's Mapping #3. I loved Christopher Gable's choreography for Cinderella, and my goodness, Alice Laidler was outstanding - incredibly expressive and absolutely inhabited the character. Wonderful stuff and Joshua Earl was a handsome and protective Prince, but I couldn't take my eyes off Alice Laidler.


In "Love on top" Aisling Brangan really had the "X Factor" with her long beautiful limbs; she threw herself into the piece completely and was fantastic to watch.


I could take or leave the wailing voice in "Vocalise"; for me it detracted from the dancing instead of complementing it.


I loved the dual nature of Mapping #3. The piece was very well danced by all involved, but Bethany Pike really drew my eye. I was so involved in the first half of the piece that the comedy, fun and cleverness of the projected section really came as a surprise and drew a lot of laughter from the audience.


Lovely costumes for one of my favourite Pas de Trois but I was more impressed with Thomas Edwards than I was with the girls in the Florestan PDD which was a shame. I didn't feel that the piece showed Central's girls at their classical best.


I loved Reece Causton and Bethany Pike in "anon", and appreciated the comedy in the piece. Bethany showed real versatility on the night as a beautiful and accomplished Contemporary dancer and a comic and expressive dancer in anon.


On the whole I thought that the quality of Contemporary dance was excellent as always; it really is such a strength at Central. Some of the classical ballet was less strong than in previous years but I'd love to see Alice Laidler in a classical ballet company in the future.


All in all a great evening of dance with some real high points, especially for such reasonable ticket prices. We'll be back for more next year.

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We were there too Spanner, and I agree about Mapping#3 - absolutely great and the highlight of the evening for me.


DD said she really enjoyed the whole performance, particularly Anon, but she said she would have liked to have seen a little more classical ballet in the programme.


It's the first time we have seen Ballet Central, and we'll definitely be watching again next year.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I've just seen Ballet Central at the Newbury Corn Exchange - sadly not a full house, but a great evening with a nicely mixed audience who were very appreciative. The curtain calls, particularly after the individual items, were too short, really, and the house obviously wanted to keep clapping!

The Bhuller was wonderful - completely gripping, and the Marney was delightful, with the humour obviously coming from the same cradle as the lighter parts of his recent piece for Ballet Black (can't remember the name - and it was only a couple of months ago. Oh dear ...) Ones to watch in my view are Tom Broderick and Bethany Pike.

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  • 2 months later...

Ballet Central are currently performing in Edinburgh as part of the Fringe/Festival. When I watched them last night they were performing in front of a full and very appreciative audience. The following is a link to a review of the preview night performance. In addition to their Ballet Central show they are also performing for 25 nights in Ballesque - very different and very entertaining (no review for that show yet!)


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