Ballet Black at Linbury Studio Theatre: Choreography was out of step with the dancers’ talent
Monday 4 Mar 2013
by By Keith Watson
In its 12-year history, Ballet Black has proved a boon to dance makers. Not content to simply retread the classics, Cassa Pancho’s groundbreaking company has made new choreography central to its philosophy.
They are at it again with a programme of four new works that showcase the versatility of Ballet Black’s exemplary dancers, totally at home with blurring the lines between contemporary and classical. This time around, though, the choreography doesn’t quite match them every step of the way.
The main piece is Christopher Marney’s War Letters, an evocative look back to World War II that carries modern resonance. Soldiers march in time, women twirl in 1940s frocks while a canny mix of Shostakovich and Glenn Miller highlights swings in mood between war traumas and brief moments of escapism.
Marney creates some moving vignettes, notably a sequence between a damaged soldier and his anxious lover, and he has a keen eye for detail. In one sequence, the female dancers are held aloft by their male partners, eerily echoing the shouldering of a rifle. But, at pushing 45 minutes, War Letters gets caught in the no-man’s land between full-on story ballet and a gallery of wartime snapshots. It’s better at the latter.
The opening half of the show is fun-time for the dancers, a trio of short works giving them a chance to shine. Ludovic Ondiviela’s frothy love duet Dopamine (You Make My Levels Go Silly) is the pick, a hyperactive fizz of first love, but Robert Binet’s Egal and The One Played Twice by Javier de Frutos aren’t far behind, the pure joy of dance spilling out from every step.