Dance review: Ballet Black at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh
9th June 2019
By Mary Brennan, Dance critic
Click! And in a snap of the fingers there’s a creative connection between Ballet Black (BB) and our own national company. The link is Sophie Laplane: resident choreographer with Scottish Ballet, her new work for BB is part of the company’s touring triple bill. Click! isn’t just the title. It’s the sound that echoes through Laplane’s choice of music and it’s the insouciant gesture – as vocalised by The Mudlarks in Just the Snap of Your Fingers (1962) – that can be come hither or dismissive. The five dancers – three women, two men, all in sharp acid-bright suits – are across such shifts in mood as they hip-sway into a cool dude groove or couple up in contrasting duets where one pair has snap and crackle in their bones, the other is smooch-close and slippery-sensual with it. Witty – as we’ve come to expect from Lapalane – and sassy. In short, finger clickin’ good!
The programme opens with Pendulum, Martin Lawrance’s two-handed calligraphy of oppositions with Sayaka Ichikawa and Mthuthuzeli November by turns athletic or balletically poised as they distance themselves in bravura solos or reunite in elegant duets where balances, lifts and exquisite pointe-work echo the dancers’ strengths. November’s own choreography, Ingoma, closes the evening with an intensity that clearly comes from the heart. With only six dancers in the ensemble he nonetheless evokes the erupting tensions of the 1946 miners’ strike that helped foster the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. He references the rhythmic, percussive stomp of the miners’ welly-boot dance, but offsets it with the wrenching, rebellious male solo (Jose Alves) that speaks of sweat-drenched exploitation before the women come centre-stage with their own expressive witness to brutal times. Arms stretch out in a mix of grief, loss, the ache of yearning love but also defiance. Pointe-work and African rhythms come together – it’s a potent gesture of how cultures can connect.