MILITARISM: Grant van Ster and Simone Muller in Enemy Behind the Gates, a neo-classical ballet that forms part of Cape Dance Companys Grace season.


DIRECTOR: Debbie Turner

CAST: Members of the Cape Dance Company with guest artist Megan Swart

VENUE: Artscape Theatre

UNTIL: Saturday

RATING: *****

As 2012 draws to a close, Debbie Turner, artistic director of the Cape Dance Company (CDC), can look back with justifiable satisfaction on the standards attained by the dancers under her aegis: what is presented in CDC’s current production aptly titled Grace is performance of international quality.

Five works make up this judiciously compiled programme, offering a pleasing balance between tongue-in-cheek humour (Michelle Reid’s There Will Be Murder) and intellectual muscle (Bradley Shelver’s Scenes and Adele Blank’s Mnemenology), with touches of poetry and drama (Christopher L Huggins’s When Dawn Comes… and Enemy Behind the Gates). Something old, something new, something for everyone.

The hallmark of CDC is apparent in every one of the pieces featured: elegant, meticulous execution is combined with the freshness and enthusiasm of youth (most of the dancers are still approaching their prime in terms of age). In other words, we have exuberance tempered by discipline.

New works such as Scenes and Mnemenology intrigue an audience by their novelty; in the case of the latter dance by Blank, celebrating her 70th birthday, the eye-enchanting choreography, controlled edginess and lyricism stand out as a highlight of the collage.

Swart’s graceful and confident participation in this neo-classical piece is predictably a huge asset.

The incongruity of using Mozart’s soulful Requiem as accompanying music for the droll domestic drama devised by Michelle Reid (another new inclusion for 2012, first performed at the Baxter Dance Festival earlier this year) underscores the wry wit of There Will Be Murder, with the butler stealing the show.

Enemy Behind the Gates is no stranger to the CDC stage, and its suppressed brutality, stygian costumes and aggressive militarism have lost none of their impact with familiarity; the large ensemble entrusted with its execution deliver with the requisite vigour.

Shelver’s Scenes deals with the abstract notion of creativity in four dances of varying ensemble from pas de deux to full company. This process is viewed by both audience and dancers, the latter seated on benches which give a context to the action. The work is subtle, moody and musically delightful, bringing all its performers into a unanimous artistry.

For sheer beauty, the ethereal When Dawn Comes… could hardly be more different from Huggins’s other work, Enemy Behind the Gates – a testimony to this choreographer’s versatility.

Well done and encore, Cape Dance Company!