The Herald (Scotland), 11th June 2018

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Dance review: Ballet Black at the Tramway, Glasgow
Mary Brennan – Dance critic 4****

Small in size, but simply charged with far-reaching aspirations and brimming over with high end talent: that, more or less, sums up the London-based Ballet Black who have just ended a short Scottish tour. If the seven-strong company of black and Asian dancers can readily impress us with well-honed technique across a range of styles – including pointe-work – they can also channel narrative drama and deliver mischievous comedy with a similar elan. Their double bill featured both kinds of story-telling with Cathy Marston’s The Suit fore-grounding adulterous passions and tragic revenge while Arthur Pita’s A Dream Within a Midsummer Night’s Dream (2014) took Shakespeare’s comedy in wittily wayward directions.

Marston’s choreography, based on Can Themba’s 1963 short story, pivots on the mental torture a husband visits on his unfaithful wife. Her fleeing lover has left behind his suit:that suit becomes the badge of her shame, ever-present – almost a third person – wherever the couple go. José Alves embeds the husband’s wounded pride in the controlling power-plays that drive Cira Robinson’s publicly humiliated wife to suicide. Various recordings by the Kronos Quartet underpin the shifting moods that are also echoed by the chorus of ‘watchers’ whose own bodies cunningly amplify the turbulent lusts and wrenching rage succinctly expressed in Marston’s fast-moving work.

Tutus and a courtly balletic response to Handel are the springboard for Arthur Pita’s delicious upheaval of amorous attraction in The Dream. With flurries of glitter dust, Isabela Coracy’s Puck – a subversively helpful Boy Scout – pairs the wandering lovers off as same-sex couples, releases their inner groove-factor to seductive songs by Yma Sumac, Eartha Kitt, Streisand and others, thereby filling the stage with another kind of unexpected match: Pita’s flair for putting classical gambits in step with unlikely rhythms and lyrics. It’s tremendous fun, frisking along on some seriously clever choreography – sparkily performed by a company that we’d love to see come back again, soon.