Monday, 3 October 2011

Ballet Erotica?

This isn't a review, just a few ruminations on Northern Ballet's Cleopatra. In case you were wondering, it definitely lived up to the hype - the score was excellent and the dancing was a perfect mixture of classical and contemporary (which given Northern Ballet's slight tendency towards non-pointe-shoe ballets, is great!) and also fantastic story telling, but there were certainly moments that took my breath away for a number of reasons!

The bath scene: I can only say 'oh my!' to this - never before in a ballet have I seen something so overtly erotic or sado-masochistic. I can't describe it, you just have to see it. There was water, (practical) nudity and  murder in a see-through glass bath. That's all I have to say about that, I certainly did NOT see it coming!

The end of act one: hooded red costumes of the egyptian men and women - like a cross between a ballet blanc and something far more futuristic. Visually, totally stunning! Mr B said it was a 'ballet rouge' - the overall impression was of blood but the company were technically excellent!

Mark Anthony's Bacchic orgy: writhing bodies, very little ballet, but certainly very physical, and extremely powerfully choreographed. This may have been part of the reason for the parental advisory warning on the posters!
A snapshot of the aforementioned Orgy... I'll leave the rest to your imagination (courtesy of grouptravelorganiser.com)
Clever use of set & projections: There was one moment where blood seemed to trickle down the scenery. I've never seen this done before and it was an extremely powerful evocation of Cleopatra's state of mind at the time.

Apart from that, there were some amazingly powerful moments in the ballet and it really showed off the technical prowess of the company whilst not being at the expense of storytelling (which is something northern ballet ALWAYS do well anyway.) It was certainly my favourite NB classic to date and I think that the company have marked a new era in their development. New name: new style, and extremely powerful indeed. Even  if Mr B did term it 'ballet erotica' I think that doesn't give credit to the absolute technical and narrative brilliance of the piece. My only regret is that I didn't see the first cast, but the second, but it's a minor quibble since, I, for one, am just glad I was there to see it!

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