Ballet review: Scottish Ballet, Glasgow

Picture: Jane Barlow
Picture: Jane Barlow
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We were promised a double-bill of “complete contrast” by Scottish Ballet’s artistic director, Christopher Hampson. But it transpires this bold proclamation is an understatement.

Scottish Ballet: Rite of Spring and Elite Syncopations - Theatre Royal, Glasgow

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It’s hard to imagine two pieces of dance with less in common than Kenneth MacMillan’s Elite Syncopations and Hampson’s own The Rite of Spring. So whether your idea of good dance is something that stirs emotions and provokes thought, or entertains and amuses, this double-bill delivers the goods.

As brutal as the Stravinsky score that accompanies it, The Rite of Spring takes no prisoners – except, that is, for the one on stage. Featuring an aggressive interrogation scene between a uniformed guard and a staunch believer who refuses to give up his faith, this is an intense, uncompromising work that demands your attention.

What it doesn’t do, however, is send you out into the world with a spring in your step. So in comes Elite Syncopations in the second half, to balance the mood. Light, fluffy, and laugh-out-loud funny, MacMillan’s celebration of 1920s social dancing is pure entertainment.

Before curtain up, we hear a jazz band playing in the distance, suggesting a party we’d like to be a part of. Then, from behind the velvet, bursts an explosion of lycra that has to be seen to be believed. Stripes, spots, checks, zig zags – worn by 25 dancers who know how to have a good time.

Genuine comic characters, a live jazz band on stage and our troubles just melt away.