The Observer, 15th February 2015

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Ballet Black – Linbury Studio Theatre
Director: Cassa Pancho
Reviewer: Luke Jennings
Rating: 4*

Ballet Black triple bill – an erotic Jack and Jill meet voodoo pirates

Works by Kit Holder, Will Tuckett and Mark Bruce showcase the company’s considerable range

In Ballet Black’s 14th season, director Cassa Pancho offers a contrasting programme that shows off the company’s considerable range. In To Fetch a Pail of Water, choreographer Kit Holder addresses the vexed question of why Jack and Jill went up the hill, uncovering an ambiguous erotic tale. Jacob Wye is an enigmatic Jack and Kanika Carr a beguiling Jill, from whom Holder draws movement of unhurried amplitude.

Will Tuckett’s Depouillement, set to Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Cello, is a lean and formal work that plays to the BB dancers’ predilection for abstraction with attitude. Its most satisfying aspect is its dynamic phrasing: Tuckett has primed his cast to anticipate the music by a fraction of a beat, and the choreography fairly hurtles on its course. The third movement is a duet for Cira Robinson and Damien Johnson. He defers to her coiled-spring power; the result is hushed but tense.

Mark Bruce’s Second Coming is a hallucinatory mash-up of masque and fable. Johnson is a top-hatted Baron Samedi figure, and Carr his sexy, bat-winged daemon. Together, they preside over a gnostic underworld peopled by voodoo pirates, desert mystics and cartoon devils. With its flickering, low-slung choreography and darkly ironic music – Tom Waits, Shostakovich, John Barry – this is archetypal Bruce territory, but a passage set to Elgar’s Cello Concerto seems out of place, bathing the whole spooky carnival in English sunshine.

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