Review: Ballet Black Triple Bill- A Triumph for British Dance

Nottingham Playhouse, 15/10/19

Audiences are sure to be left spellbound by Ballet Black’s trilogy of bold and beautiful routine. I certainly was. They’re a company built of black and Asian dancers, proving the importance of inclusive performance, who have spun a new web of traditional ballet and dance.

Their three pieces, Pendulum, CLICK! and Ingoma, capture dance’s capability to tell stories, rich in depth and emotive power.

The company have hit recent fame after their glorious feature in Stormzy’s 2019 Glastonbury set. They’re breaking boundaries of diversity in dance. They were the first in a revolution, manufacturing dance shoes for every skin tone. Revolution is the theme charging behind every dance, and the power is palpable.

The performance began with Martin Lawrence’s breath-taking Pendulum. The piece was bound by the relationship between movement and the sound imitating the relationship between lovers. An intense sound collage builds up throughout, and the dancer’s movements contributed to the climax. The piece was incredibly passionate and emotive, showcasing Lawrence’s choreography brilliantly. Though a stripped back duet, a towering precedent was set.

CLICK!, choreographed by Sophie Laplane (Scottish Ballet’s choreographer-in-residence), was a burst of fresh routine. The dance revolved around colours: yellow, pink and green, blue and red. There were five dancers, each dressed in a pant suit of one of the colours. A matching coloured spotlight followed each dancer, creating a kaleidoscopic effect on stage as they span and soared. ‘Yellow’ represents the click, she revolves around the other dancers just as a click revolves through each song in the piece. It’s wonderfully fun and holds a charm that warms the stage from the hard passion in Pendulum.

The dancers’ skills are displayed to perfection. The dance is an ensemble, but also breaks off into stunning solos and duets, meaning each of the five dancers’ talent is showcased. CLICK! was mesmerising.

After a short interval, Ballet Black’s third and final dance began. This was the real show-stopper and is something I’m unlikely to forget anytime soon. It was the award-winning Ingoma, constructed by choreographer Mthuthuzeli November. The piece tells the story of the tragic 1946 miner’s strike in post-Apartheid South Africa. The dance was a victory in story-telling: emotive and a fully embodied narrative dance.

The visuals were stunning, the costume and choreography blending beautifully. The dancers’ stamina stands out, they never falter, proving the company to the best in the field at the moment. They keep up with the fast-paced and rhythmic score, intelligently crafted by South African composer Peter Johnson. Their movements are motivated to every beat.

This final dance combines Pendulum’s passion with CLICK!’s tempo, then adds a further dimension to the ballet: history.

The Triple Bill was a production that took pride in its musicality, tone and most importantly, its strength. At the dancers’ final bows, the Playhouse erupted in a standing ovation, and rightly so. This company are definitely a must see, an amazing experience.

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