★★★★ | Comprising of a trio of pieces, this mixed programme from Ballet Black combines abstract dance, drama, passion and narrative storytelling in a triple bill of short pieces which amounts to a stunning evening of dance.

Photo Credit – Bill Cooper

The piece opened with Cristaux, an abstract piece centring on the beauty of crystals and how mesmerising they can be. The piece was performed by Cira Robinson and Mthbuthuzeli November, who both carried precision, synchronicity and poise in their movement. Robinson’s costume was beautifully decorated with 1500 Swarovski crystals, which glistened in the light as the pair traversed the stage.  Despite the quality of the choreography and performance, this was the weakest of the three pieces, primarily as a result of its soundtrack comprising of tinny bells ringing in a mish-mash of patterns. Despite sitting well with the theme of the piece, the composition held the piece back, which is unfortunate for something which otherwise had a lot for it.

The second piece, To Begin, Begin was choreographed by Christopher Marney, a former performer with Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures. Warming the stage with subtle lighting comprising of hues of blue and orange; and accompanied by gentile compositions of swathing strings and piano, this piece had a warm, dreamlike quality to it which felt comforting and familiar. The second abstract piece of the evening had a more contemporary slant to it, and knitted together both the traditional and modern movements beautifully; and kept building the momentum with the music and movement. To Begin, Begin was evocative, atmospheric and utterly absorbing.

Rounding off the programme was Storyville, a narrative driven piece choreographed by Christopher Hampson. Set in 1915, the ballet tells the tale of a young girl who finds herself working in an infamous dancehall in the red light district in New Orleans. Taken advantage of because of her youth and innocence, her spiral into self-destruction cannot be halted, even by a young sailor that she falls in love with. Brimming with passion and sadness, this piece had a clear narrative relayed by well-defined characters. Added into that was a collection of music which was evocative of the time period of the setting and a subtle undertone of fears of voodoo and black magic, reflective of the culture of New Orleans; which both added gravitas to the piece.  Storyville rounded off the evening perfectly.

Having never seen this company before, for me, the triple bill was a fascinating insight into the company and an impressive taster of what Ballet Black has to offer, leaving me keen to see more from them.  With a consistency of quality, precision and emotion running through the three pieces and with their impressive choreography and presentation, Ballet Black is thoroughly recommended.

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Ballet Black is currently on tour across the UK. Details of the company can be found at www.balletblack.co.uk . Ballet Black were seen at CAST Theatre, Doncaster, who have a variety of art, dance, performance and shows, from West End shows to world premieres, in their upcoming season. Details can be found at www.castindoncaster.com