Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s new work Little Red Riding Hood utilises the symbolism of adolescent sexual awakening to create a heroine that resists victimhood and embraces defiance.
In terms of fully delivering on its promise [House of Dreams] is the success of the night and really underlines the classical chops of the company – nothing ropey here.
This was an altogether outstanding evening: an admirably varied and testing, showcase for the all-round talents of this remarkable company. The sense of a special occasion was reflected in the buzz among the audience at the end amid a desire for a return visit before long.
Ballet Black are a rare commodity in the dance world. Not because they’re a ballet company made up exclusively of black and Asian dancers – although that’s inspiring in itself – but because they’re a small-scale chamber ballet company with a mission to commission new work, operating without any of the infrastructure bigger companies take for granted.
Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s new take on Red Riding Hood is the kind of ambitious one-act storytelling creation that gives Ballet Black its distinctive advantage in the independent dance scene. The piece has a vibrant atmosphere, dynamic choreography, deliciously entertaining music, standout performances and a sense of dark fun. And it’s almost a runaway success.
Pancho’s company takes classical dance to a new, diverse audience in places not visited by the larger troupes (Worthing, anyone?) and routinely commissions new work.
…when she encounters the Wolf – a strutting, wiggling, undulating seduction machine, played superbly by Mthuthuzeli November, whose excessively long rope tail is put to all manner of use.
Mthuthuzeli November is perfect as the slinky seducer, while Cira Robinson’s Riding Hood journeys from bewildered naivety, knee-trembling sensual surrender to a final act of bold defiance.
Little Red Riding Hood is a riot of a dance…This eclectic triple bill draws inspiration from Debussy and Shostakovich before concluding with a funny, gutsy spin on a fairytale.
The eight Ballet Black dancers are some of Britain’s hardest workers and this programme shows them at their best: accomplished, versatile and great communicators. Their audiences too are growing. A poll at the after show talk showed a considerable number of first timers, satisfied customers that will hopefully broaden the appeal of ballet.
The innuendos come thick and fast. How come she has only one flower when the saucy burlesque girls have two each? And grandmother is played en travesti by José Alves on pointe. The facts of life confuse, but isn’t a bad boy with that hip-hop rolling gait irresistible; does she love it!
And so Pancho lands another successful evening’s programme. There is enough here for traditionalists and contemporary fans alike to be satisfied, as well as material strong enough to showcase these elegant yet athletic dancers to the best of their great abilities.
‘I really do think that what Cassa Pancho the artistic director is doing is absolutely vital,’ he says. ‘Because what she constantly says is she’s waiting for the normalness of it all. It might be that we’re beginning to have ethnic diversity on stage, but until that’s mirrored in the audience I don’t think her job is done.’
packed with dash, daring and joie de vivre
I don’t know much about ballet, but I know what I like. And I like Ballet Black.
showcasing grace and ingenuity to eager spectators
Cira Robinson and Mthuthuzeli November enact courtship to music by Steve Reich in Pita’s ambitious new work Cristaux
Mixed triple bill from a lively, likeable company, with Christopher Hampson’s Storyville making a strong return
It’s impossible not to like Ballet Black, a small company with big ideas
precise, perfectly executed and full of star quality