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Ballet for one and all

GRACEFUL: A scene from Of Gods and Men.

GRACEFUL: A scene from Of Gods and Men.

Published Jul 9, 2014


Ballet Beautiful

Production: Elizabeth Triegaardt, Robin van Wyk, Johnny Bovang, Andrew Warth

Choreography: Adele Blank, Robin Van Wyk, Yarisha Singh, Kirsten Isenberg, Mazilier/Petipa

Cast: Members of Cape Town City Ballet with Daniel Rajna and Tracy Li, and Zama Dance School

Venue: Artscape Theatre

UNTIL: Saturday

Rating: ****

WHILE there is no want of beauty in this collage of five ballets, a more appropriate title for the production would be Ballet for All Seasons, since diversity is its salient feature.

From the bright, jazzy pas de dix of Zama’s Uvuyo (Celebrate) to the classical elegance of Paquita, the audience are taken through many a change of style and mood, with no fewer than four new works to stimulate curiosity.

Of these, the first is Zama’s curtain-raiser choreographed by Adele Blank, who succeeds in challenging the young executants while keeping the work’s demands realistic for fledgling performers. Their well-honed, adrenalin-charged ensemble provides an engaging start to the production.

In strong contrast is Kirsten Isenberg’s Of Gods and Men: evanescent, austere and intriguing, it offers some statuesque tableaux in a minimalist setting as men interact with divinities (the latter represented by women). A highlight is the pas de trois from leads Laura Bosenberg and Thomas Thorne, joined by Jesse Milligan in a graceful exhibition of polished ensemble.

Then comes what for many must count as the programme’s most memorable inclusion – Robin Van Wyk’s classically conceived pas de deux, Fragile Balance, featuring Tracy Li and Daniel Rajna among the three alternate casts. Danced to the haunting strains of Max Bruch’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, it traces the moody rapport between a man and a woman. Seamless entente between Li and Rajna results in exquisite control which in no way diminishes the warmth of their performance.

Thereafter Yarisha Singh’s jaunty but poignant narrative ballet, Serendipity, rings the changes as it gently showcases the love life of young couples in a provincial French town.

We have colour-coded lovers epitomising different aspects of male/female relationships, from conflict-habituated (aggressive red) through deeply amorous (blue) to pure white, the hue of a new but doomed love-affair.

Despite the tragic element of the plot, the ending is sweetly upbeat with its message that life goes on after loss. Bosenberg and Thorne are at their most lyrical as the white-costumed leads.

Finally, for traditionalists, there is the all-too-seldom-performed Paquita with its sumptuous costumes, formal set and eye-enchanting choreography.

A notable performance is that of Mami Fujii, alternating as the lead with an on-form Kim Vieira. Both offer volcanic execution of this ballet’s demanding solos.

As for the corps’ ensemble, it is of the highest calibre, attesting to hours of committed rehearsal.

Ballet Beautiful will be remembered for different reasons depending on individual taste, but there is something for everyone in its varied programme.

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