On their fourth stop on their 2011 tour, Ballet Central gave Cambridge a solid reason why arts funding should not be cut.
With a medley of classical ballet, contemporary and jazz, the final-year students of the ballet school offered something for all tastes at the ADC Theatre on Tuesday.
Although the ballet pieces did not quite match the standard I have seen at the Central Tour in previous years, the company more than made up for it with stunning contemporary pieces and exciting jazz numbers which proved that ballet dancers are not just one-trick ponies.
Blue Ball from Cinderella kicked off the show for the classical ballet, a delicate pas-de-deux between the Prince and Cinderella (Alexander Nuttall and Lottie Murphy). Controlled turns, breathless lifts and precise petit bateaux, all carried off with near-perfect technique, gave the piece a beautiful fragility, however the whole sequence lacked the emotional performance which would have delivered a tear-jerking experience.
It was the same story with the colourful Pas de Trois and Sarabande. Although technically both pieces were sound – Pas de Trois in particular, with rapid jetees and glises carried out with impressive stamina and perfect ballon – the two sequences relied on technical ability to carry the performance through.
A pleasant surprise in the line-up was a swing dance, performed by three couples. Although the dancers perhaps did not lose their balletic restraint as much as Len Goodman from Strictly might have liked, the choreography was an exciting mix of traditional swing moves and more modern jazz. Accompanied by perfectly-executed toe touches and leaps from the boys – who in all honesty could have carried off the piece single-handedly – the piece was a fun and unexpected addition to the show.
As always, Ballet Central delivered some stunning and emotionally-breathtaking contemporary work for this year’s tour. While Darshan Singh Bhuller’s Doubting Thomas was a physically demanding piece, with frenzied unison and complex floorwork, the sequence demonstrated the group’s ability to create and utilise tension to produce a performance which kept the audience on the edge of their seat, using body parts to break up natural silence with noise and juxtaposing awkward, angular flicks of limbs with swift turns and fluid, pulsating extensions.
But the pinnacle of the contemporary work was Für Alina, a sinister contemporary piece featuring dancers with gaunt faces and ragged clothes. Emphasised by blank expressions, the piece uses entwining partnerwork and childlike, vulnerable, and soft movement making utterly compelling viewing. Slower, reaching movements coupled with sudden, unexpected skips and flailing arms sets the viewer on edge, while an intricate, undulating pas-de-deux with the use of a coat is an example of inspired choreography.
However, Ballet Central saved the best until last with a narrative piece titled Scenes From a Wedding, the storytelling of which equalled that of any professional company. The piece tells a story of a man desperate to find a wife, and when turned down by his first love, settles for the next girl who will accept his proposal. As the story unfolds, the audience are treated to a comic tale of the run-up to the wedding, where the couple find they are incompatible, leaving the groom to leave the bride at the altar for his first love. With perfect comic timing and humorous expressions, it is a light and fantastically entertaining performance from all members of the cast – the central ‘bed’ scene finding the most comedy with the audience. A quirky and original piece, Scenes From a Wedding is the perfect way to round off a thoroughly entertaining and professional performance.