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Dance review: Ballet Black, Mussleburgh

  • by KELLY APTER
 

IN TWELVE short years, Ballet Black has made quite a name for itself, winning prestigious awards and forging an enviable link with the Royal Opera House. What it hasn’t done however, is visit Scotland– until now.

Brunton Theatre

****

Sadly, the turnout for the company’s Scottish debut was less than worthy of the talent on stage – but audience relationships don’t happen overnight, and hopefully a return visit will prove more fruitful.

Created to provide opportunities for black and Asian dancers – and role models for students coming through the ranks – Ballet Black is a small but sparky outfit. Three of the eight dancers performed with New York companies before moving to London – and it shows. One of the choreographers on the bill used to dance with Matthew Bourne – and that shows, too.

Overall, what you get is strong technique with a dynamic edge, plus the capacity to take on a role and imbue it with meaning.

As company introductions go, this quadruple bill said it all: three essentially abstract works (although with no shortage of emotion) and one narrative piece with astute characterisation.

Dopamine (You Make My Levels Go Silly) found a young couple high on love, The One Played Twice made good use of Hawaiian barbershop quartet songs, and EGAL was a powerful exploration of equality in couple relationships.

Christopher Marney’s War Letters closed the night with a poignant, yet uplifting, look at Second World War soldiers and their brides. Brightness on the dancehall floor, mixed with sadness on the battlefield.

 

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