Ballet Black: The Barbican Theatre


Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On March 6, 2017
Last modified:March 7, 2017

Summary:

Founded in 2001 by Cassa Pancho MBE, (now vice president of the London Ballet Circle), this dance company does exactly what it says on the packet. Providing performance opportunities for dancers from black and Asian backgrounds and attracting a large percentage of this new potential audience in the process.

Their March programme kicked off on March 2-4th at the Barbican Theatre with an enchanting triple bill, including a Red Riding Hood performance with a twist in the tale. The large stage area proved a fitting canvas for the prelude before the fairy tale main. When the lights were fully out specks of tiny debris glistened in the voluminous proscenium like stars in a night sky and once the silver-blue lighting values dimmed up to a shimmering dusk so to did the similarly attired dancers.

And they used every inch of that grand space. If you’re new to ballet and not unencumbered by every technical detail of choreography you’ll immediately pick up on how the spatial balance was maintained in the cold, hard night of the front stage by the delicate warmth of these performers.

There was an incremental increase in tempo in the three prelude dances before Red Riding Hood. The first, a gentle, charming narrative typically expressed as ballet for the uninitiated. The second: the dancers pirouetted in wearing the green and brown colours of autumn but their spirited embraces and joyous leaps were more in keeping with the energy of these early days of spring. The third: sinister, dramatic cello and double bass accompaniments augured darker, sharper more powerful dance gestures that suggested Hitchcockian suspense or beyond that some impending horror.

When Red Riding Hood finally did arrive there were memorable comedy moments as her grandmother has her wig snatched off by wolves characterised as trilby wearing hoods who wouldn’t look out of place on a 1930s New York street corner. The biggest baddest wolf had an air of a swaggering Indiana Jones, brandishing his lasso-like tail in the manner of Jones’ whip. In one Act spinning his trilby into the air with one finger catching it on his head and sweeping into his choreographed story-telling with a faultless grace that Jones, though, could only dream of.

 

You can catch the next installment of their March Triple Bill at the Arts Depot on March 28th 

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Eddie Saint-Jean

Eddie Saint-Jean is an arts reviewer with a background in art theory, film and theatre.

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