The choreography was long and involved, and I can’t even imagine the physicality it takes to perform a piece like that. With every minute that passed, it felt like another layer of an onion was peeled off, revealing very raw emotions underneath. There was absolute beauty in their unity.
For me, the lasting memory of Ballet Black is one of unique, powerful storytelling performed by remarkable dancers, with the strength and agility of world-class athletes. No wonder there was a standing ovation.
It’s a fully charged onslaught of the senses….
A duet between Sayaka Ichikawa, now in a drab blue dress and headscarf, and José Alves is painful in its intimacy. They stand close, foreheads touching, sharing their love, their breath and their fear, and dance in weaving, wrapping patterns…It was an evening when ballet has found an authentic black voice and it’s time to celebrate.
Ballet Black: Pendulum / CLICK! / INGOMA at the Barbican By Graham Watts, 20 March 2019 Opening its eighteenth season (how is that possible?), Cassa Pancho’s chamber ballet ensemble has now clocked up 45 original commissions and last year’s newbie, The Suit by Cathy Marston, garnered two gongs in the…
As founder Cassa Pancho noted in a post-show talk at the company’s recent triple bill at the Barbican, “it’s not just about redressing the lack of diverse bodies on stage but also the stories that are being told. It’s about changing the very gatekeepers of ballet.”
Not only do the dancers dance, they also sing, of hope, of redemption and delivery from hardship. Gestures are supplicating, hands in prayer. The womenfolk in grey dresses and headscarves are a mighty force, too, fists at the ready in impassioned solos and group dance. Revolution is in the air. The air turns red.
The triple bill contained an ideal balance of exhilarating works, between abstraction and narration, drama and comedy, grief and glee. The company, packed with brilliant dancers and role models for the next generation, has undeniably reached an exciting stage of maturity with its own impactful voice.
José Alves’s powerful solo which conveys his increasing fury and frustration with deceptively simple means: running on the spot or smacking angrily against his rubber boots. There is a mournful soliloquy for Sayaka Ichikawa who represents the grieving womenfolk of the mining community, standing downstage, pounding a rhythm with her clenched fists against the fourth wall.
As Ingoma comes to an end, the company’s power as a unit is palpable. The sweat pouring off their bodies is testament to the passion they have for their art, as is the applause from the audience. Ballet Black is certainly a dance company to look out for.
For me the pinnacle on press night was a heartfelt, physically full-throttle solo from Isabela Coracy followed by a tremulously sensitive one from Sayaka Ichikawa.
…in the outpouring of grief there is distress and pride, helplessness and yet a fierce energy for the fight. The dancers dig deep to serve November’s heartfelt work.
Ingoma demonstrates not only the individual physicality of each dancer, but their strength as an assembly. The company move as one beast, sweeping across the shadowy space, pick-axes above their heads and fists held high.
Of the people who didn’t stay [for the post-show talk], more than a few stopped on their way out to pose excitedly for photographs and selfies against the background of the dancers of Ballet Black in their sleek, sharp, larger-than-life poster.