Review: ‘Night And Day’ – A Cole Porter Ballet

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night and day Cole PorterThe twentieth century American songwriting legend, Cole Porter, is once again brought to life through Night and Day performed by the Cape Town City Ballet at the Artscape Theatre.

High energy, daring choreography and complex lifts epitomize this production of Night and Day. Lovers of Sean Bovim’s ballets will find it to be a lighthearted and satisfactory production, comparable to his enduringly popular Queen at the Ballet.

Young soloist Daniel Szybokowski opens the ballet in the guise of Cole Porter himself, deeply in thought, composing his music. This young dancer’s versatility is impressive.  He plays the piano and brings excellent ballet technique to the stage, though his characterization falls slightly short of the vigorous, robust and infectious energy which is Cole Porter.

Principal dancer Laura Bosenberg and soloist Ivan Boonzaaier never fail to impress and surprise with their complex tap dance routines, while Celeste George and Bradley van Heerden – with their cheeky feigned innocence during  ‘Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall in Love’ – are one of the highlights of Night and Day.

With other songs such ‘You’d be So Nice to Come Home To’ and ‘Every Time We Say Goodbye’ the mood is greatly enhanced by remarkable saxophonist Sarah Elphick. In ‘I Concentrate on You’ Elphick successfully plays the audience to be into a relaxed trance, while the company dancers portray an improvised wedding dance scene in the background.

Night and Day not only provides a soundtrack for the choreography but echoes the highs and lows of Cole Porter’s life.  Most songs pay attention to the fun aspect of Porter’s high life as socialite, but there is also a subtle thread of seriousness successfully carried through to the end by means of brilliant role-play by senior soloist Lauren Rogers as Linda Lee Porter. Rogers displays a touching and emotional performance that gives depth and adds value to the production.

Cole Porter’s more open displays of homosexuality and the flaunting of his affairs is established in ‘Rose Dance’ performed by artist Jesse Milligan – indisputably a star in the making. Milligan’s bursting energy, masculinity and sparkling stage personality perfectly capture Cole Porter’s sexual preference for strong athletic men.

But behind the stars of the show, the success of Night and Day depends greatly on the energized characterization of the ‘corps de ballet’ which is well-drilled and enthusiastic, but would benefit from more consistent facial expressions to portray the mood and draw the audience to an even higher level of enjoyment.

Choreographers Robin van Wyk, Paul Johnson, Nigel Lucas, Kirsten Isenberg and Mervyn William’s unique individualism is noted throughout the ballet. Through the experienced and practiced hand of Robin van Wyk, the collaboration between choreographers proves to be immensely smooth.

Night and Day is one of van Wyk’s more successful productions and will be appreciated by music and dance enthusiasts, young and old.

Simoné Botha

Cape Town City Ballet’s Night & Day runs at the Artscape until 3 November 2012.

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