Canal St Media, 2nd Dec 2022

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Say It Loud/Black Sun Review
By Paul Schofield
2nd December 2022

Ballet Black have returned to The Lowry for a two night run consisting of two new pieces. They couldn’t be more different to each other.

The first, Say it Loud, opens with a few existentialist (and stereotypical) voiced over questions about why Ballet Black exists and couldn’t the troupe find better use of their time like fighting knife crime, and what about cultural appropriation etc. The programme indicates these were taken from various sources between 2001 and 2021, and some of them are truly shocking.

After this we had a set of 6 “Chapters” charting Ballet Black’s heritage from inception to today, with backing music as varied as the dance. There’s a lot of energy and a lot of tenderness with music as diverse as “If You’re Brown” by Lord Kitchener to “At Last” by Etta James. Vulnerability and triumph are the main themes here with the finale drawing people to their feet.

The second half, Black Sun, is a bit more sombre, where dance gives way to voice and percussion. It’s an extraordinary piece and at times mesmerising. In it the cast submit themselves to the energy from the sun and moon and a ritual is enacted before us with powerful vocals and energetic drumming. This had the audience on their feet again.

At the end of the evening, the questions asked at the start of it were answered: I can’t imagine another troupe being able to perform either of these pieces well, if at all, and way back, when black dancers couldn’t find work, they set up on their own. And we’re all the better (and hopefully wiser) for it.