Fairy Powered Productions, 16th Nov 2019

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Ballet Black – Triple Bill (featuring Ingoma) Review
Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre – until 16 November 2019

Reviewed By Dawn Smallwood


Ballet Black returns to Leeds to present a triple bill including their world premiere, Ingoma, which is being presented for the first time. This company is reputed for celebrating diversity in ballet and their current programme is a testimony to this.

The programme first presents Martin Lawrance’s Pendulum, prepared in 2009. This short piece features a pas de deux (Marie Astrid Mence and Ebony Thomas) which is proactively interpreted to Steve Reich’s music. This piece explores conflicts of close encounters and the repetitive nature of this composition gives the dancers the impetus to intricately dance in very close synchronisation.

This is followed by Click! This is a colourful and upbeat piece and features five dancers who dance to four pieces of music, arranged by Kenny Inglis. This musical variation is unique with each piece offering different interpretations on basis of the clicking of fingers. Yann Seabra’s staging and costumes are colourful and is supported with David Plater’s spot lighting. The dancers silhouttely interpret the different styles to the variations which affect the dynamism of the piece. From the non serious journey to the serious one, from a collective motion to a duo who movingly and lovingly “click”. It is such an enlightening and colourful piece of work which no doubt sits proudly in the company’s repertoire.

Mostly awaited piece of work and final feature for the evening is Ingoma, meaning song, and is originally inspired by Gerard Sekoto’s paintings, Blue Head and Song of the Pick, and Asisipho Malunga’s poem. Ingoma explores the struggles of the black miners and their families during the 1946 strike in South Africa where 60,000 of them bravely participated in.

This world premiere is co-commissioned with the Barbican and creatively choreographed by Mthuthuzeli November. Ingoma is set to kaldeiscope of ballet, African dancing and song which the dancers poignantly and movingly interpret to. The staging is atmospheric with the obscured glare of the miners’ lamps and is cleverly arranged by Plater and Seabra. The dancers tell the story set to Peter Johnson’s music, November’s input and the company’s singing. The piece consists of collective dancing from the cast and outstanding solos (November, Isabela Coracy and Sayaka Ichikawa) and pas de deux (José Alves and Ichikawa).

Ingoma is such a beautiful though poignant piece of work which has been well received by the appreciative audience. It raises awareness of South Africa’s historic milestone and the courageous stand the miners made to fight for their rights.

Ballet Black continues to be successfully diverse with their work and their current triple bill is no exception with such a moving and down to earth bill of works which are enjoyed and loved by many.