Review Of Ballet Black- Birmingham Rep Theatre

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I have never seen ballet in real life, apart from small snippets on the screen. So therefore I was a little unsure what to expect or whether I’d enjoy it.

I am not technically trained in ballet dance so I cannot tell you if the dance moves were to perfection and would score a 10, if on strictly come dancing.

What I can tell you though is from an audience perspective if I enjoyed the show or not.

As the lights dimmed in the intimate setting of the Birmingham Rep Theatre, the anticipation was palpable. The audience was about to be transported to a world of elegance, beauty, and precision, as Ballet Black took to the stage. But before the dancers’ mesmerizing movements could weave their magic, it’s essential to understand the rich history and significance of this innovative company. Founded in 2001 by Cassa Pancho, Ballet Black was conceived as a response to the lack of diversity in the ballet world. With a mission to provide opportunities for black and Asian dancers to thrive, the company has been breaking down barriers and pushing boundaries for over two decades. From its humble beginnings as a small, touring outfit to its current status as a critically acclaimed, internationally recognized ensemble, Ballet Black has consistently pushed the boundaries of classical ballet, infusing it with a fresh, modern perspective. As the curtains drew open, the audience was ready to be dazzled by the company’s unique blend of technical prowess, emotional depth, and sheer passion.

In this poduction Renowned choreographer, Mthuthuzeli November, ponders the true meaning of existence in The Waiting Game, his captivating and lively masterpiece delving into the depths of life itself, originally conceived in 2020 and accompanied by a pulsating soundtrack featuring the voices of Ballet Black’s talented artists.

The evening’s double feature also includes If At First, a new production for Ballet Black, thoughtfully crafted by acclaimed Franco-British artist and Scottish Ballet’s Choreographer in Residence, Sophie Laplane. Following the resounding success of her 2019 Ballet Black performance, CLICK!, If At First explores a more nuanced type of heroism – a quiet victory over adversity that unites us all. This jubilant and innovative piece weaves together themes of humanity, courage, and self-acceptance.

Photo by ASH

Initially the first scene left me nearly needing earplugs as there was a high pitched note that reminded me of a fire alarm going off, I am glad to be honest the 1st scene was not too long so it let me concentrate more on the dancers and bring my hearing back to normal range. 

I warmed up slowly during the 2nd scene and during the 1st half, I started to enjoy the show. I realized it was not ballet itself I disliked when I have seen it on TV, it’s the musical accompaniment . This probably is from my disdain for classical music. However this show delivers ballet to a rich tapestry of music with modern songs. One of the scenes reminded me of Peaky Blinders. It became obvious to me, ballet is just another form of performance art . It was a joy to watch the show and be captivated by the stories within the scenes. There are different possibilities in how you perceive the storyline infront of you but you could tell with no words, what was occurring. 

The set production, lighting and choreography was excellent. The show also felt intimate.

From the moment the dancers began to move, it was clear that these dancers were masters of their craft. With every step, every leap, and every turn, they demonstrated a deep understanding of the nuances of ballet, combining precision and power with grace and fluidity. The dancers movements synchronized and were harmonious, while the soloists and principal dancers brought their own distinct personalities to their roles.

Throughout the evening, the dancers’ passion and dedication shone through, their joy and love for the art form infectious and captivating. As they danced, they seemed to embody the very essence of ballet, their bodies bending and twisting in ways that defied gravity and pushed the boundaries of human movement. The audience was entranced, hanging on every step, every gesture, and every moment of connection between the dancers. It was a truly mesmerizing display, one that left a lasting impression on all who were lucky enough to witness it.

Therefore if you are looking for a production piece that will leave you wanting more, this production has it. The performers were excellent, sometimes the music was a little too loud for my liking. However, from a member of the audience, this was a fantastic production. You need to book quickly though.

https://www.birmingham-rep.co.uk/whats-on/ballet-blackheroes

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