Scottish Ballet/ Bonachela Dance Company, Sadler's Wells/ Queen Elizabeth Hall, London
Rubies aren't the only gems
Tuesday 06 October 2009
Forty years makes a ruby anniversary. That explains the presence of Balanchine's Rubies in this programme marking 40 years of Scottish Ballet. It's a birthday show, but very much a celebration of the company as directed by Ashley Page. It focuses on the works and choreographers that Page has added to the repertory, without reference to the company's history. The heart of the evening is William Forsythe's Workwithinwork, which draws a lucid performance from these dancers.
In Rubies, Balanchine gets jazzy with his Stravinsky score. Dancers dip into chorus-girl poses, jog and prance. Sophie Martin and Adam Blyde show romping energy as the leading couple. Martin shimmies exuberantly, undulating her torso with verve. The rest of the company are too uptight, with prim dancing from the corps. Vassilissa Levtonova, in the other soloist role, looks foursquare and respectable in Balanchine's showgirl attitudes.
The whole company is very much better in Forsythe's Workwithinwork. This work for 16 dancers has an improvisatory quality, spinning lines of movement to match the winding phrases of Berio's violin duet. A dancer steps forward from a group, taking a tentative position. Then he swoops into the dance, arching his back and moving at full stretch. Forsythe, and these dancers, follow movement, finding out where it leads them.
The delicacy of this work is unusual for Forsythe. In ballet terms, he's still best known for the slamming extremes of in the middle, somewhat elevated. Workwithinwork doesn't have that catwalk sullenness. It's fluid, inventive and clear. Scottish Ballet's dancers look absorbed in this movement, feeling every stretch and angle.
They're energetic enough in In Light and Shadow, though Krzysztof Pastor's work gives them so much less to do. It's set to bits of Bach, from the Goldberg Variations to a bouncy orchestral suite. The title comes from the contrast, with some numbers in shadow, others in full spotlight. One sequence lights the dancers from the knees down, showing off some fidgety footwork.
Pastor's choreography is full of conventional skips and jumps, making little of this music. Richard Honner conducts a lively performance from Scottish Ballet's own orchestra.
With The Land of Yes and the Land of No, his latest work for his own company, Rafael Bonachela looks at signs, starting with the idea of everyday symbols. He doesn't make them easy to read. His dancers move with taut precision, shaping sculptural phrases, but Bonachela's choreography stays somewhere between abstract and dramatic. Some minutes in, lights on the scaffolding set made the number 10 – and I wondered if they'd spelled out other messages, without my noticing.
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