A bare stage, two dancers in minimal costumes, and a Steve Reich soundtrack that offers little in the way of melody to lose yourself in. That’s how Ballet Black opens its current triple-bill, with a stripped back theatricality that puts technique and style centre stage.
Ballet Black, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh ****
Martin Lawrance’s 2009 work Pendulum is a world away from what follows – two busy works of flamboyance and dramatic narrative – and his tightly-woven choreography allows the dancers to show any newcomers they’re in for a night of skill and integrity.
Former Scottish Ballet dancer-turned choreographer Sophie Laplane takes us down an entirely different path with Click! Bright-coloured trouser suits swirl round bodies as they move from funky five-piece to romantic duet during a series of diverse vignettes. Making each one so different means there’s no real through-line, but Laplane’s upbeat musical choices and quirky movement make this a true crowd-pleaser.
South African Mthuthuzeli November went on a deeply personal journey to create Ingoma, a work inspired by the mining industry in his homeland. Like much of Ballet Black’s output, it has a storyline – but as the who, what and when of the drama isn’t always obvious, it’s the more abstract moments that really shine.
A loving couple enjoying each other’s company, yet filled with a poignancy of inevitable loss to come, is truly affecting. So too the powerful repetition of one miner dancing alone centre-stage. Rarely does such passion for a subject matter radiate from an entire ensemble as much as this. - Kelly Apter