Bruno Miranda, Monike Cristina and the company in Raymonda Act 3. Picture: Lauge Sorensen

This weekend saw the opening of Joburg Ballet’s exhilarating double bill programme, Fire and Ice.

The production showcases the company’s range and expertise in two contrasting ballets, the classical Raymonda Act Three, and the world premiere of Whispers Of My Soul, by internationally acclaimed French-Algerian choreographer Redha.

Raymonda is a typical Russian classical ballet, composed by Alexander Glazunov and choreographed by Marius Petipa. The ballet’s third act is famous for its Grand Pas Classique known as the Grand Pas Classique Hongrois, in which Petipa choreographed a chain of divertissements designed to show off the talents of the soloists of the time. 

This act is often extracted from the full-length work to be performed independently. The work captures some of the finest classical choreography ever created in a single act and is a showcase for technical virtuosity.

Producer Guivalde De Almeida created a gem for the company with his keen eye for precision and poise. Costume designer Andrea Delgado fashioned a range of glistening costumes that add dazzle to this thrilling ballet.

Shannon Glover and company in Whispers Of My Soul. Picture: Lauge Sorensen

This matinee cast, with soloists Monique Cristina and Bruno Miranda, did not exhibit the pointed virtuosity demanded by the choreography. It was especially the male dancers’ tours en l’air that failed to impress.

Redha’s Whispers Of My Soul is a majestic and mesmeric atmospheric work in which our human experience is ardently and expansively explored.

We yearn for meaning and seem to find significance in the giving and receiving of love, a sense of belonging, and the comforting contentment of being accepted and validated.

On a panoramic stage, ingeniously used to its fullest measure by set designer Wilhelm Disbergen, Redha creates a cosmos of people who individually, in groups and en masse seek that which will make their journeys sensible. It is indeed a passionate exposé of our existential dilemma.

The cast of Whispers Of My Soul. Picture: Lauge Sorensen

The company’s dancers excel in both the powerful physicality of Redha’s work and the engrossed intensity that it demands. Claudia Monja and Shannon Glover give mesmerising performances. Newcomer to the company, Kristof Skhosana, makes a great impression with some electrifying dancing.

Whispers Of My Soul is a work that every dance lover ought to experience. It is meditative, daunting, yet utterly beautiful.