Ballet Black, Linbury Studio, London – by Jenny Gilbert
Sunday 04 March 2012
Lawrance is a busy man these days, and versatile too, turning up at the Linbury the following night to christen Captured, a work on point, and a commission from Ballet Black. If I had to choose, I think I prefer him in ballet mode: faster, sleeker, and more devastating, though some of this must be due to the technical skill of the two couples – and especially streak-of-lightning Cira Robinson – who I kept expecting to murder one another, though Lawrance wouldn’t stoop to anything so crass.
Ballet Black is a small miracle of a company. With no state subsidy, other than a bit of hand-holding from Covent Garden, Cassa Pancho’s tiny troupe thinks big. This year’s offering includes no fewer than four premieres, all of them first-class. The only pity is that there are still so few black and Asian classical dancers working in the UK that the company has to cast largely from America. Ballet Black, by its very existence, should change that.
Hopes were riding high for Storyville, about a fictional ingénue in Louisiana in 1915 who goes from rags to riches to ruin, egged on by the factual dancehall madam, Lulu White. Christopher Hampson delivers a stylish narrative, responding with gusto to a selection of Kurt Weill numbers, sleazy and bracing by turns. But just as original, and as much fun, is Jonathan Watkins’s duet Together, Alone – a feast of alien flavours brought to bear on Western classical ingredients, from cumin to lemongrass. Delicious.