The highlight of the show is undoubtedly the performance choreographed by Kirsten Isenberg: Of Gods and Men. A minimalistic stage, simple costumes, and dramatic and heavy music by Armand Amar and Philip Rombi all serve to add to the theatrical quality of the dancers’ intense and compelling stage presence. Their eye line and focus is piercing, while the blue undertone lighting heightens the incisive lines and mesmerizing shapes created.
In a refreshingly neo-classical style, the choreography accentuates the rippling effects of the upper body unfolding into extreme back extensions. The dance vocabulary as a whole stresses the importance of line, as the pictures created by the five couples are multi-dimensional.
The pas de trois danced by Laura Bosenberg, Jesse Milligan and Thomas Thorne is utterly flawless. The lifts and partner work show off the trust and experience of the principle dancers – essential for the godlike figures they embody in this piece. With a magnetic energy between the couples as they pull away or are drawn to one another, this is a prime example of successful choreography where all theatrical aspects mould perfectly together, in this case neatly echoing the theme of the relationship between Gods and Men.
In more contemporary choreography, Serendipity by Yarisha Singh portrays a series of different characters and relationships that eventually all fall into place. The stage is rich with décor and colour to the point of chaos, but the clever use of a freeze frame style helps the audience to recognise what to focus on. Playful and cheeky at first, the choreography progresses into a sincere and real love story.
The classical part of the programme consists of Marius Pepita’s Paquita and Robin van Wyk’s Fragile Balance. In this second piece, prima ballerina Tracy Li and her long-time dance partner Daniel Rajna are reunited – and these experienced performers reach into the souls of the audience members. Paquita is another lavish spectacle, with leading roles danced by Kim Vieira and Daniel Szybkowski showing off their strong ballet technique. If at times the corps de ballet is a little unsteady, the dancers redeem themselves with beautifully executed solos. Paquita would perhaps have been better placed earlier in the programme in terms of the flow of the overall show.
The curtain-raiser performance Uvuyo is danced by one of Cape Town City Ballet’s outreach partners, ZAMA Dance School. It is a wonderful experience for these young students to perform on a professional stage alongside Cape Town City Ballet, and the young cast performs the renowned Adele Blank’s choreography with utter conviction and style, alternating between classical technique and soulful jazz motifs.
Cape Town City Ballet’s Ballet Beautiful runs at the Artscape Theatre 4 to 12 July 2014.