Obsidian Tear/Marguerite & Armand/Elite Syncopations at Royal Opera House 14/04/18

Marguerite and Armand. Alessandra Ferri and Federico Bonelli. ©ROH, 2017. Photographed by Tristram Kenton. (4)The Royal Ballet’s latest offering is a rather curious mixed bill containing contemporary, classical and carnivalesque works from three of its resident choreographers.

On the surface, each of them are tried and tested Opera House hits, but together the programme feels confused – with no common thread to weave them together.

It’s hard to imagine the average balletomane enjoying all three of these contrasting pieces equally. Contemporary fans will lap up the primal physicality of Wayne McGregor’s Obsidian Tear, whereas admirers of the more classical will be absorbed by the tragic love story of Marguerite and Armand.

And as for Elite Syncopations … it’s hard to imagine anyone not adoring the array of quirky, colourful company members as they take us on a romp through the stylish ragtime era.

What you enjoy most will depend on personal taste, but it’s very hard to resist Alessandra Ferri’s Marguerite. Now 54 years old, she still floats effortlessly through Ashton’s choreography, her petite stature suited to the vulnerability of fragile Marguerite.

First published on BroadwayWorld.com 

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Mid Century Modern – Richard Alston Dance Company at Sadler’s Wells 23/03/18

cw-23717-712x413Richard Alton choreographed his first work 50 years ago, and now in 2018, his company of ten accomplished dancers celebrate this landmark anniversary with Mid Century Modern. It’s a stunning journey through Alston’s back catalogue with work dating back as far as 1970.

In addition, this triple bill includes more recent choreography in the form of Alston’s Carnaval, a beautifully staged take on the relationship between Robert Schumann and his wife Clara (Elly Braund). The evening opens with Martin Lawrance’s more physical work, Cut and Run, a brief but energetic piece brimming with urgency and centred on the pacy interplay of two main couples.

Carnaval is a classical work set to Schumann’s score of the same name, played on stage by pianist Jason Ridgway, who makes light work of the piece’s turbulent energy.

Schumann is played by both Liam Riddick and Nicholas Bodych who represent his dual persona. Riddick is slick, and moves smoothly, exuding a majestic aura. By comparison Bodych is spritely and unpredictable.

The beauty and musicality of Alston’s choreography makes an evening with this company more than worth the ticket price. The head-to-toe precision of the dancers and the ease of the lifts between the tranquil, floating waltzes make for beguiling viewing, also enhanced by Fontini Dimou’s wafting fairytale costumes.

Read the full review on CultureWhisper.com

Royal Ballet’s Berstein Centenary at the Royal Opera House 17/03/18

RB_Bernstein_1687Following on from the Royal Ballet’s popular story ballets, such as Giselle and The Winter’s Tale, the company now turn their attention to work of Leonard Bernstein to mark a century since his birth. It comes in the form of a stylish mixed bill of Bernstein’s compositions created for the concert hall.

The bill features two new works. First up is Wayne McGregor‘s Yugen, a short piece set to the distinctive Chichester Psalms. It is, as expected, an intellectual and calculated McGregor work executed with precision to a collection of choral, but unexpectedly jazzy Hebrew texts.

The pace is fiercely led by Olivia Cowley, who is eye-catching throughout in her encounters with her various partners. Edmund de Waal’s angular set is also mimicked in the choreography through the stylised movement – arched backs and intricate partnering.

Read the full review on BroadwayWorld.com

Ballet Black at the Barbican 15/03/18

A Dream Within a Midsummer Night’s Dream_BALLET BLACK, BARBICAN,
Choreographer; Arthur PitaBallet Black is a diverse company, comprised of black and Asian dancers, that has been annually performing their charismatic brand of dance in London since 2001.

Always a treat, with only seven dancers one really feels as if they have come to know the individual personalities over the years, as they move seamlessly from the sincere to the playful in this latest double bill of story ballets.

The Suit was created especially for them by Cathy Marston. On the surface it’s an unremarkable tale of a woman who is found to be cheating on her husband, who then shames her into carrying around the lover’s symbolic suit as a reminder of her betrayal.

Designer Jane Heather’s muted colours and the mostly melancholic score makes for heavier viewing than typical Ballet Black fare, nonetheless the woeful tale is told with an earnest clarity, with the three key figures supported by a remaining chorus of four.

Read the full review on BroadwayWorld.com

Strictly Come Dancing Live at the 02 Arena 10/02/18

Strictly-Come-Dancing-Live-Tour-LaunchIt’s hard to fault this year’s Strictly Come Dancing Live! tour line-up with 7 of the top 8 celebrities from the past series signing up for another two months on the road. Together with their original professional partners, it makes for a particularly attractive prospect to Strictly fans up and down the country.

The enthusiastic audience at the 02 at this final weekend of the tour run certainly don’t require much encouragement as they joyfully chant the catch phrases on queue “Fab-u-lous!” and youngsters wave their golden ten paddles.

The team behind the tour have far from lost their touch in curating a wonderfully feelgood evening but the now heavily scripted nature of the show means this annual offering lacks a little spontaneity, especially in the staged chats that make up so much of the first half.

Revel-Horwood has directed the tour for the majority of it’s eleven year history and having viewed four of his last five tours he needs to be careful not to get complacent with this successful formula. Although the 10,000 bums on seats in the 02 don’t show any signs of tiring of it.

Read the full review in Dancing Times – March 2018

Jesus Carmona – Impetus at Sadler’s Wells 24/02/18

Jesus Carmona credit Beatrix Mexi Molnar (1)Jesús Carmona is a former Principal with Ballet Nacional de España, who went on to form is own company with the aim of showcasing the very best in Spanish culture.

IImpetus, a work Carmona has toured since 2015, he seeks to demonstrate his growth as an all-round artist by combining beautiful balletic sensitivity with bold and commanding flamenco footwork. The result is an impactful and charged evening enhanced by a flawless ensemble cast and live musicians making for a high point in Sadler’s Wells 2018 Flamenco Festival.

Impetus adapts works from great Spanish composers Albéniz, Riqueni and Escudero. Choreographically it draws on the zapateado, the percussive footwork associated with traditional flamenco.

Carmona takes more of a backseat role in the early sequences, allowing his fellow cast members to shine. The sultry lighting and the intricate choreography of the wrists and hands bubbles up nicely, anticipating the high energy demands further down the line. Carmona himself is delicate and nuanced: his arms undulate and his pirouettes are graceful. He is every part the Principal Dancer.

Read the full review on CultureWhisper.com

Isabel Bayon – Dju-Dju (Flamenco Festival) at Sadler’s Wells 20/02/18

x46566207-9445-E6D8-F1D8260EB403251F.jpg.pagespeed.ic.WbTh94wrPGSadler’s Wells’ annual season of flamenco is now in its 15th year. It offers a varied bill, from the traditional and vibrant to more contemporary interpretations. In the case of Isabel Bayón’s new work, Dju-Dju, the slightly eccentric too.

It’s a 90-minute romp exploring traditions, superstitions and rituals in dance. Bayón repeatedly crosses herself theatrically, breathing deeply, between singing, dancing and acting her way through the piece; she hams up the role well in the comedic moments.

Bayón is accompanied by three zany musicians who provide commentary and charisma throughout. Guitarist Jesús Torres makes a memorable entrance in a white smock and sandals, channelling his own namesake. He embraces various audience members, beckons down some cherubs, which descend from the ceiling next to a miniature silver Christmas tree – not your typical flamenco fare. He whitters away in Spanish while keyboardist Alejandro Rojas-Marcos provides a rough translation with more than a hint of cynicism.

Read the full review on BroadwayWorld.com