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The Stage, London 1st February 2007

Ballet Black
Published Thursday 1 February 2007 by Gavin Roebuck

This developing company of black and Asian classical dancers presented a mixed programme of four works. In Taniec, choreographer Raymond Chai understood what too many don’t – that work doesn’t need to be long to be effective – and the three dancers performed with dynamic flair. Umdlalo kaSisi by Bawren Tavaziva is a narrative of love and loss, celebrating the gift of life and strength of community. Antonia Franceschi’s Shift, Trip, Catch, with live music from cellist Zoe Martlew, was an exciting piece for three dancers. The Royal Ballet’s Liam Scarlett, who is emerging as an interesting choreographer, created Hinterland for the six performers in the company to an excerpt from a Shostakovich piano trio, and this really suited the abilities of the dancers.

Though the lighting helped to create an exciting atmosphere, it is a pity that funds didn’t run to a vibrant, colourful backcloth. Within a few years, Ballet Black has gained access to the multi-million pound facilities of the Linbury Studio Theatre – perhaps now an investment of public funds would enable the company and its school to do more. Having a resident choreographer is useful for a developing company to establish its identity and position and disappointingly there was no work by Cassa Pancho, the Ballet Black director. The programme was popular with the audience with some at the end calling out and stamping, as though at a football match.