Scottish Ballet, Autumn Season, Theatre Royal, Glasgow, review
Reviewed by Mark Brown
New Scottish Ballet director Christopher Hampson introduced himself to the audience on opening night. His warm and assured oration endeared him to Glasgow’s ballet lovers, as did his autumn triple bill.
Martin Lawrance’s Olympics-inspired piece Run For It takes on a new, glowing complexion when presented after the success of London 2012. It’s the kind of piece that could easily go horribly wrong; think dancers performing literal mimes of sprinting or, worse, discus throwing. However, performed to John Adams’s appropriately pacey composition Son of Chamber Symphony (played live), the work draws subtle and sustainable parallels between leading athletes and top-class dancers.
Danced in Yumiko Takeshima’s clever, sporty blue costumes, Lawrance’s choreography works playfully with notions of contrast and precision. The moment at which soloist Eve Mutso is held aloft, upside down, her legs at a 180-degree angle, is a spectacular celebration of the athleticism of dancers. The end points of the three movements – in which dancers stop suddenly, as if frozen in time – are typical of the humour of the work.
From a recent piece to an established classic, in the shape of William Forsythe’s Workwithinwork. Danced to the invigorating, jagged modernist music of Luciano Berio, the work, like the music, contrasts the angular and awkward with the smooth and fluid. In what seems like an affectionate parody of classical ballet, dancers strike careful, geometric poses. Meanwhile a male dancer adopts (with, it must be said, considerable skill) a lolloping stride as he winds his ungainly and comic way across the stage.
There’s humour, too, and no little glamour, in Hans van Manen’s 5 Tangos. The 80-year-old Dutch choreographer was in Glasgow for opening night and seemed duly happy with Scottish Ballet’s presentation of a lovely work which, set to the wonderful dance music of Ástor Piazzolla, overflows with an early-20th-century sense of Latin chic.
With the male dancers (dressed in black) and the women (in superb black and red tango dresses) lined up opposite each other, before striding into tango-dancing pairs, it is as if Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet has been catapulted into the sensuality and style of Piazzolla’s Argentina.
Ending with an almost symphonic tango for seven pairs of dancers, 5 Tangos builds bridges between forms and epochs, which is an appropriate end to an impressively diverse programme.
Touring Scotland until Oct 20. Details: scottishballet.co.uk
This review was originally published on the website of the Daily Telegraph on October 5, 2012
© Mark Brown