Civic Theatre, Chelmsford
April 15, 2016
With its tour the culmination of three years intense training at Central School of Ballet, Ballet Central continues to present a diverse range of pieces and strong programmes of work for its third year dancers. The tour allows them to engage with every aspect of creating ‘performance’, with the aspiring professionals not only creating new work and staging existing repertoire, but on costume design and sound and lighting too.
The 2016 tour works require a range of skills in ballet and contemporary dance, narrative and non-narrative works. While some of the general staging was a weaker element of the evening, the dancers should be highly commended. There were some enlightening moments of pas de deux, while of particular note were the males, a strong pack who worked hard as one.
Celebration, a piece by the late Christopher Gable and restaged by Carole Gable, was a well-balanced opening to the evening. Standing out was the Pas de Trois from Paquita, also staged by Gable, and a welcome traditional touch to the eclectic evening. It was a superbly secure display of technique and shining performance. Adorned with extravagant sparking tutus, the ladies held each balance and secured each turn with triumph. Channelling the strong characterisation the production required, Mai Ito, Kanami Sano and Mark Samaras inspired confidence and bravado throughout.
Also of note was Mikaela Polley’s Ascent, performed in pointe shoes but with both classical and contemporary influences. The driving score conveyed urgency and propelled the athletic dancers through the work to the energetic climax of lifts and leaps. The intensity of the accompaniment is matched well by Polley’s movement vocabulary.
The evening closed with a longer narrative work from Christopher Marney. War Letters, originally commissioned by Ballet Black, is an episodic journey of relationships, loneliness and the thrills of war, narrated through two letters, and demonstrated wholeheartedly by the thirteen dancers. The talented Jasmine Wallis provided some comic relief from the bitterness surrounding war, unable to find a soldier to dance with but eventually managing to secure a kiss. Full of glimpses of wartime love stories and the challenges and triumphs experienced off the battlefield, Marney’s dance displays his innate talent for creating insightful and engaging story ballets through his dancers who truly engaged with the subject.