Introducing one of our volunteer dance reviewers, Poppy O'Reilly:
After graduating from London Studio Centre with a BA (Hons) in Theatre Dance in 2016, I found myself returning to Devon to pursue a career in dance psychology stemming from my own personal experiences. I’ve combined this with coaching young people in sport and dance, whilst feeding my passion for the outdoors through rock climbing.
Review of Ballet Central | by Poppy O'Reilly
Sunday 27 May 2018 at Exeter Northcott Theatre.
With the auditorium packed, everyone waited eagerly for the evenings’ performance to commence. As a dancer, I was looking forward to seeing the skills and technique of the students, whereas others were there purely to enjoy the show; something I believe we all did. With excerpts from a variety of works by Matthew Bourne, Wayne McGregor, Kenneth MacMillan, Christopher Gable and Jenna Lee it showcased the diversity of the students who are on the cusp of graduation.
The show opened with the beautifully dark Black Swan choreographed by Jenna Lee and with music from Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky. Drawing on inspiration from both the classical ballet and the film, Lee created a piece that was intriguingly enticing. Strong eye-line, petit allegro and majestic movements filled the stage. For me the most enjoyable and memorable piece followed, taking form of a duet, the two dancers worked effortlessly together. The evocative music composed by Ben Frost perfectly mirrored the sublime lines and contemporary movements. In comparison to this Valley of the Shadows was a myriad of interchanging pas de deux that led the audience through an excerpt from Macmillan’s original performance. The dancers characterisation of the piece was effective in portraying the life of an Italian Jewish family during the Nazi occupation.
Act 2 began with the Fairies Prologue, taken from Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty. Witty and comical, this dance was an excellent interpretation of Bourne’s original production. Dante Baylor’s costume design was unique and cleverly depicted the characteristics of each of the fairies. Ballet Centrals rendition of Cinderella concluded the evenings entertainment. Dancers filled the stage adorned in apple green costumes for this coming-of-age tale. Olivia Van Niekerk, who plays Cinderella, had a beautiful air of innocence that challenged the underlying sadness of the piece. Ultimately though the piece showed the strength of love whether that was between a mother and a daughter or a man and a woman. The dancers held onto the audiences’ attention right from the first curtain through to the final bow, and brought to us a night that showcased not only their skill, but also their passion and determination to keep the art of dance alive.
Top Image: Ballet Central