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Ballet Black, new works, London & Tour, Spring 2014


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Is anyone else coming to see Ballet Black's new programme at the Linbury next week or on their subsequent tour which takes in Cambridge, Guidford, Southport, Exeter and Nottingham?

 

I saw them twice last year at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham in May and at Quarry Hill in November. I was bowled over by Christopher Marney's War Letters and Ludovik Ondiviela's Dopamine and although the company has lost Sarah Kundi to MurleyDance it has gained Isabela Coracy from Brazil who is a very powerful, athletic dancer.  I am a great admirer of their founder and artistic director Cassa Pancho.

 

The new programme includes another new work by Marney as well as new ballets by Arthur Pita and Martin Lawrence.

 

I am trekking down to London on the 26 Feb and also catching them in Southport on 22 May.  For the last couple of years they have visited Leeds and if they come again this year I shall catch them there too.   I can't see enough of them.

 

I shall of course let you know how they get on Wednesday and also when I see them in Southport.   

 

En passant I should just like to say hello to Vlad Pereira.  My former ward's little boy (who is the nearest I have to a grandson) is also called Vlad.  He is already signs of interest in ballet at the age of 3. His mum will be at the show. I saw both Nureyev and Fonteyn dance on several occasions though my favourites at the time were Sibley and Dowell.  Although Nureyev and Fonteyn were great dancers I think there are also great dancers now.  

 

 

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As John says, the current run in the Linbury is sold out - so if you didn't book, you're really missing out on a treat! Here are a couple of more pics from the rehearsal of Arthur Pita's new work 'A Dream Within a Midsummer Night's Dream' (one of the 4 works starring Ballet Black)
 
 
12782305195_4695b4e84d_z.jpg
Oberon & Tatania (Damien Johnson & Cira Robinson)
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

12782694544_c4d8a46f52_z.jpg
Sayaka Ichikawa
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

See more...
Set from DanceTabs - Ballet Black in 'A Dream Within a Midsummer Night's Dream' (Arthur Pita)
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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I have just driven 220 miles through interminable roadworks, strong winds and driving rain but it was well worth it to see Ballet Black's Triple Bill at The Linbury last night. I saw them in Leeds and Tottenham last year and fell in love with them. Their new programme was even more enjoyable than last year's.

 

The company offered three very different ballets last night:

  • Limbo by Martin Lawrence to a score by Hindemith danced by Jose Alves, Cira Robinson and Jacob Wye;
  • Two of a Kind by Christopher Marney to music by Tchaikovsky and Ravel danced by Kanika Carr, Sayaka Ichikawa, Damien Johnson and Christopher Renfurn; and
  • A Dream within Midsummer Night's Dream by Arthur Pita to music by Handel, Vivanco, Cole Porter, Shelton, Hart and Rodgers with Robinson as Titania, Johnson as Oberon, Alves as Demetrius and Botton, Carr and Hermia, Wye as Lysander, Renfurn as Salvador Dali and - here was the surprise and the treat - Isabela Coracy as Puck.

Each of those works brought out a different quality in the company:  Limbo the virtuosity of Alves, Robinson and Wye; Two of a Kind was fluent and lyrical;  Dream brought out both those qualifies too but also the company's sense of fun.  Coracy, dressed as a boy scout, made a wonderful Puck. She had impressed me with her speed, power and grace when I saw her at the S & A Burton last November. But last night she displayed considerable talent as a character dancer.

 

The fact that the London season has been sold out for some time attests to their popularity. But those who were unable to catch them in London can see them in Cambridge or Guildford, which are not very far away, later in the year.   I am looking forward to seeing them again when they come to Southport.

Edited by terpsichore
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Thanks for the info may try to catch them in Cambridge then presumably they have their own website so can look up their performances there.

I missed the booking for this and young dancer of the year which I'm annoyed about but maybe all is not lost!!

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Thanks for the info may try to catch them in Cambridge then presumably they have their own website so can look up their performances there.

I missed the booking for this and young dancer of the year which I'm annoyed about but maybe all is not lost!!

 

Yes. Their performances page links to the box offices that accept on-line bookings.  Would Guildford not be easier to reach from Sussex than Cambridge.

 

I am sure they will visit other theatres. They are firm favourites in Leeds and after their last visit I seem to remember the company tweeted that they looked forward to returning, or someone from Leeds (possibly Mark Skipper) tweeted that we looked forward to seeing them again, in Autumn 2014.

 

Talking of Leeds I have somehow got to drag myself to class at 11:30 today after a very heavy day's work yesterday which also required me to drive into central London.

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I was at the Ballet black show in the Linbury last night. Really enjoyed it.

Limbo was a sorta love triangle - spiky, grand, strikingly danced, especially by Cira Robinson.

Loved 'Two of a Kind'. Competing couples jousted for the most attention between themselves, only to leave a forlorn Sayaka Ichikawa alone and sad in sole possesion of the spotlight. Will look forward to seeing this again.

The 'Dream Within' feature piece was the second half of the show. Plenty of wit, superb dancing, and an intelligent use of minimal props. Also a great use of a variety of music - especially loved the modern pop songs from the likes of Barbara Streisand, Anthony & The Johnsons, and Jeff Buckley. The only thing I wasn't quite so keen on was the lighting for the Bottom/Tatainia duet, which seeminly washed away the dancers' features.

Going again Friday - and looking forward to it!

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Wish I could see it again - that'll teach me to get only one ticket. Particularly loved the Pita piece, he has an incredible way of playing with music and the dancers really brought the story to life

Edited by Coated
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Same here. I didn't like the music overly much (the recording sounded harsh), which makes it harder for me to connect with / focus on the dancing. I've also come to the conclusion that 3 dancers is not my favourite number for storyless ballets. It's neigh on impossible to create group dynamics and I'm usually left feeling like I'm watching a very long duet with an extra person on stage. Saying that, I did like the actual dancing and quite like to see more of Lawrance.

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I liked all the works including Limbo but I agree that it is not an easy work to appreciate. I have written about the work elsewhere and here is a summary of what I said about the ballet.

 

"In the programme Lawrence explained that Limbo is "a speculative idea about the afterlife of a human being dying in 'original sin' without being assigned to the hell of the damned." He explained that this work was "not a narrative but a deep feeling of striving for one's life ... surviving it or leaving this world for another.
 
Dedicating this work to the memory of his late grandmother, Annie Lawrence, the choreographer added:
"The notion of death and whether there is life after death played a big part in the process of making this piece. When someone is dying you do not want them to go. You hope that they will be around forever."

And then he speculated

"If someone is in Limbo can they also be brought back to life?"

With costumes designed by Rebecca Hayes and lighting by David Plater the dancers,  Jose Alves, Jacob Wye and Cira Robinson, gave the impression of flickering embers. Obviously it was not intended to be comfortable to watch. Similarly Hindemith's Sonata for Solo Voila (1922) Op 25 No 1 was not supposed to be easy to listen to.  The interaction between the dancers was combative.  Each of them was grim faced. But the choreography gave each dancer an opportunity to display his or her virtuosity. Altogether, a very moving and compelling work."

 

I intend to see the ballet again when the company comes to Southport and Nottingham. It may be an acquired taste like oysters.

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  • 1 month later...

I saw Ballet Black in Cambridge last night and very much enjoyed the show. The first half was mixed in my view- perhaps these two pieces were a little too similar to some of BBs previous tours. Kanika Carr in Two of a Kind was beautiful to watch. She makes lovely shapes .This was a watchable piece. Limbo - was perhaps not helped by extremely challenging music. I had no programme -they had sold out which was amazing- never seen so many people at a Dance event at AT Cambridge before-and had I not read Terpischore's summary above would have had not the vestige of a clue what it was all meant to be about.

However, I really loved  Arthur Pita's  Midsummer Night's Dream piece that fills the second half and that has been much praised.  It was a joy to see so much done with so little. BB showed that you don't need " a team of creatives" to create magical effects: they managed it with a few scarves and some good lighting. The music was orginal,camp and fun, the narrative fast and original, the choreography was imaginative and the pas de deuxs really moving.The dancing was all good and some of it really excellent.

 

My only real criticism is that the soundtrack was over amplified which made it sound harsh and distorted- and it was  also just too loud-why is this done so often??

 

They are on tomorrow and it is not sold out - I would recommend a viist.

Every year I wonder whether they will still be going- and touring- so it is a pleasure to see them thriving.

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As Mary says, this season's Tour started in Cambridge last night - another show tonight then it's Guildford, Southport, Exeter and Nottingham through May and in early July.  And indeed, all programmes were sold with almost 15 minutes to go - the last one went to the lady ahead of me - something for the Marketing folk to think about.

 

The show was very well received by a pretty mixed audience.  Limbo, a trio using Hindeminth solo violin, was a touch minimal for me, with Cira Robinson taking what I imagine would once have been a Sarah Kundi role.  Chris Marney's Two of a Kind was more approachable, with its mirror imaging making some good pictures and the two girls (Kanika Carr and Sayaka Ichikawa) making stand-off gestures at each other.  After the break, Arthur Pita's A Dream Within A Midsummer Night's Dream was, as Mary says, a thoroughly enjoyable little jewel where music, a few veils, and lots of imagination combined in a highly successful way.  A classical courtly dance for a Royal couple and two others to Handel's Sarabande is rudely interrupted by a Puck figure, and off we all go to that forest near Athens.  Puck lines them all up for a clever number using  Let's Fall In Love and that sets the scenes for the varied mayhem of odd couplings that result until, with some more stardust, the Sarabande's last bars bring things to a close.  I'm not sure that the appearance of 'Salvador Dali' added much for, without a mention on the Cast Sheet, i'd have had no idea who the suited figure was.  But that apart, great fun - and I hope the remainder of the Tour is as well supported as last night.  This small company is doing good things with small numbers and minimal resource.

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I too saw Ballet Black on Monday night and was one of the first there so I did get a programme!

 

Ds and I enjoyed watching all of the dancers .We did find Limbo hard going at times but really enjoyed watching the charismatic Jacob Wye in this piece.

 

Loved Two of a Kind, so musical and cleanly danced.

 

And was thrilled to see Dream within a Midsummers Night Dream, surreal yes but great fun. I agree with everything the above two posters said so will leave it at that as they have put it into words so much better than I !

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  • 1 month later...

I know that my tastes are not shared by everyone but I find Ballet Black one of the most exciting companies in the UK today.  Furthermore, the company has commissioned work from Christopher Marney who is my favourite living British choreographer.  I saw their Triple Bill at The Linbury and loved it.  You can find my review and those of others somewhere on this thread.  The company danced that programme to packed houses in London.

 

Ballet Black is in Southport tomorrow for one night only and amazingly there are still some empty seats.  At £15 that is nothing short of a bargain

 

That seems to be their only appearance in the North though they are coming to Nottingham later in the year.

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I know that my tastes are not shared by everyone but I find Ballet Black one of the most exciting companies in the UK today.

Agree that everybody should see Ballet Black when they are near. And wonderful they do so much new work, though inevitably some pieces are much stronger than others.

 

 

Furthermore, the company has commissioned work from Christopher Marney who is my favourite living British choreographer.

 

My goodness you choose from a long list of v v v accomplished choreographers.

 

Some living British choreographers - not exhaustive or in any particular order - that quickly come to mind...

 

Christopher Bruce, Richard Alston, Matthew Bourne, Sue Davies, Akram Khan, Wayne McGregor, Henri Oguike, Christopher Wheeldon, Christopher Hampson, Rosie Kay, David Dawson, Liam Scarlett, David Bintley...

 

Down a level and still developing...

James Cousins, Morgann Runacre-Temple, Alexander Whitley, and many more

Edited by Bruce
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I like them too but we all have our favourites.

 

PS You seem to have left Nixon off your list. I know he comes from Canada but he has been here a long time and does have an OBE. He is high on my list. While on the subject of Northern Ballet choreographers Kenneth Tindall seems to have earned some good marks from a lot of subscribers to this forum and quite right too.

Edited by terpsichore
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PS You seem to have left Nixon off your list. I know he comes from Canada but he has been here a long time and does have an OBE. He is high on my list. While on the subject of Northern Ballet choreographers Kenneth Tindall seems to have earned some good marks from a lot of subscribers to this forum and quite right too.

 

I decided not to confuse the list by including people known to be born elsewhere, even if they have been here a long time and may, or may not, have British Citizenship. If you go there then besides David Nixon, you'd have Shobana Jeyasingh, Russell Maliphant and Darshan Singh Bhuller to name three.

 

Certainly any complete list would include Kenneth Tindall along with dozens of others who have done a few pieces, successful or otherwise.

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I decided not to confuse the list by including people known to be born elsewhere, even if they have been here a long time and may, or may not, have British Citizenship. If you go there then besides David Nixon, you'd have Shobana Jeyasingh, Russell Maliphant and Darshan Singh Bhuller to name three.

 

Certainly any complete list would include Kenneth Tindall along with dozens of others who have done a few pieces, successful or otherwise.

 

 

Having recently been present at an Insight evening for the new Marriott ballet, we should not forget him. It could just be.... I know we could keep going on this topic

 

All true and very interesting though perhaps slightly tangential.

 

I banged the drum for Ballet Black here and on twitter because they deserve a decent audience in Southport tomorrow. It is their only appearance in the North on this tour. I like them very much and I want them to come back.

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Certainly want to push Ballet Black performances, and much admire their fresh approach and commitment to new work, and have done so since I saw their very first performance at Battersea in 2002:

http://www.ballet.co.uk/magazines/yr_02/dec02/bm_rev_ballet_black_1202.htm

 

Balletco also shone a light on the embryonic company when Cassa Pancho did a diary/weblog on getting it all going. She is a terrific writer, despite all the ups and downs:

http://www.ballet.co.uk/contexts/pancho.htm

 

Re this years rep, Arthur Pita's 'Dream' is magnificent and I think their most ambitious piece to date. I echo all "Go see folks" posts.

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Certainly want to push Ballet Black performances, and much admire their fresh approach and commitment to new work, and have done so since I saw their very first performance at Battersea in 2002:

http://www.ballet.co.uk/magazines/yr_02/dec02/bm_rev_ballet_black_1202.htm

 

Balletco also shone a light on the embryonic company when Cassa Pancho did a diary/weblog on getting it all going. She is a terrific writer, despite all the ups and downs:

http://www.ballet.co.uk/contexts/pancho.htm

 

Re this years rep, Arthur Pita's 'Dream' is magnificent and I think their most ambitious piece to date. I echo all "Go see folks" posts.

 

Many thanks :-) x

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Yesterday I saw Ballet Black at The Atkinson in Southjport. They danced the works that I saw at the Linbury in February which I have already reviewed on this thread.. It was the same programme but different - and different in a good way for I thought that they danced better than I had ever seen them dance before.

The first ballet was Limbo by Martin Lawrence which he set to a score by Hindemith.  As in February the male dancers were  Jose Alves and Jacob Wye but Isabela Coracy danced the female role. She interpreted it quite differently from Cira Robinson. Robinson is a remarkably graceful and elegant classical dancer. Coracy is a ball of energy and extremely strong. I have been a Coracy fan ever since I saw her dance Diana and Actaeon with Helenonilson Ferreira on YouTube.

 

 

That was also the piece that I saw Michaela de Prince dance in Amsterdam on the 23 Nov 2013. Like de Prince Coracy has enormous potential and it is likely that she and de Prince will be compared throughout their careers.

As many may have noticed, I am also something of a Marney fan.  Christopher Marney is the next guest of the London Ballet Circle on 2 June 2014. I shall be at the Civil Service Club to hear him speak. I hope I get a chance to shake his hand.  Two of a Kind, reminded me why I admire Marney so much.   Flowing and soaring with the most remarkable lifts the ballet expressed the ecstasy of love.  At least twice in her pas de deux, Robinson was turned literally head over heals.  Such a position could have been ungainly for most dancers but Robinson gave it beauty.  The choreography brought out the best in all the dancers, Damien Johnson, Kanika Carr and Christopher Renfurm as well as Robinson. I cannot tell whether it was a joy to dance - though I suspect it was - but it was certainly a joy to watch.

Having seen A Dream within Midsummer Night's Dream in February I concentrated on the detail. For the first time I noticed Carr's virtuosity: a remarkable samba on pointe and some spectacular fouettés. She has a most expressive face that can tell a story with a single glance and that was the quality that I had noticed before. I noticed the humour second time round. Sayaka Ichikawa as Helena beating off the attentions of Demetrius and Lysander (Alves and Wye).  Titania (Robinson)'s infatuation with Bottom (Alves). My companion yesterday evening (who is herself an accomplished dancer) said that she enjoyed Arthur Pita's Dream even more than David Nixon's. While I would not go quite that far because Nixon's ballet is special for me I certainly enjoyed Pita's very much indeed.

 
There were two pleasant surprises yesterday evening.  The first was meeting Janet McNulty who had previously told me that she would be unable to make the show but became free at the very last minute.  The second was meeting Cassa Pancho and bumping into some of the dancers in the foyer.  It was great to have an opportunity to tell then just how much we enjoyed the show though I think they must have known that already. The house was not quite as full as it might have been but the applause at the end was sustained and deafening. More than a few of us felt compelled to rise to our feet and that does not happen every day in ballet.
 
The company will be in Exeter on the 27 and 28 May and then Nottingham on the 2 July.  In the Autumn they will be back in Leeds.  If you live anywhere near those cities go see the show.
Edited by terpsichore
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Well I think Terpsichore has expressed my feelings about the evening more articulately than I could!!

 

I thoroughly enjoyed the evening.  I like the way Martin Lawrance moves dancers but I'm afraid that I didn't like the Hindemith score.  The movement won out over the music so I would happily see the piece again.

 

Chris Marney's Two of a Kind was a joy to watch, beautiful fluid choreography with great music and danced with emotion.

 

Arthur Pita's Dream within a Dream was a delight from start to finish.  It was extremely funny and very clever in its construction - a must see if you get the opportunity.

 

It was lovely meeting up with Terpsichore at the performance and also meeting Cassa Pancho and the dancers afterwards.

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