Ballet Black keeps getting better
by Sarah Frater
Ballet Black has become a regular at the Opera House, and with each visit the young troupe improves. Company founder Cassa Pancho was on the front foot from the start, focusing on her black and Asian dancers rather than wasting energy on fancy sets or complicated tours. She also commissioned new ballets from young dance makers, giving her company a distinctive style and the dancers roles they could call their own.
This year she’s gone one better with a new piece from the much-respected Henri Oguike. The Welsh/Nigerian choreographer was a stylish dancer with Richard Alston, before forming his own troupe to wide acclaim. He also has a refined musical ear, and although new to ballet choreography, he’s taken to it like ducks to drakes. His Da Gamba to Bach’s Solo Cello Suite in D minor stretches the Ballet Black dancers both technically and artistically. It features detailed footwork and a complex rhythmic and melodic structure, plus the dancers wear nice outfits, an Oguike trait and change from austerity costumes you often see on stage.
The rest of the four-part programme paled in comparison, plus it went on too long and made the dancers look tired. Ballet Black has got this wrong — the company only has six dancers and they’re on all evening. Injury will surely keep them off stage at this rate.