Symphony of Dance is Cape Town City Ballet’s latest production, featuring a variety of short dance works accompanied by the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra. Uniquely, however, the orchestra sits majestically on stage, adding a different dimension to the production as we are not only able to see where the music comes from but are also made more aware of the relationship between the music, dancers and choreography.
The opening number is the fast ‘Ensemble for Six’, lead by Meghan Henegan and Conrad Nusser. Henegan is beautiful on stage and is well-partnered by Nusser, although he should not looked worried when he turns as all his pirouettes and jumps are perfectly strong. The corps ladies perform well and their unison gets better as they go, ending with an exciting retire sequence that delights the audience as they hit their balances together. Throughout the production, in fact, it’s great to see the women maintaining the unity they found during their run of Giselle. The men sometimes hit the right notes during ‘The Emperor’s Waltz’, with the sharp male quartet being the highlight of an otherwise monotonous piece.
It’s hard not to draw comparisons between Kirsten Isenberg’s ‘Largo Variation’ and the Christopher Wheeldon duet Alvin Ailey performed here a few weeks ago to the same iconic music by Arvo Pärt. However Isenberg’s beautiful interpretation focuses more on the watery, fluid quality of the music, with the dancers moving continually in and around one another to the spellbinding accompaniment by guest artists Sang-Woo Jun on violin and Yohan Chun on piano.
The variety of pieces performed also gives the audience an opportunity to see different faces take center stage. Revil Yon stands out in both ‘Largo Variation’ and ‘The Blue Danube’ as he is so present in the moment and committed to his partner. Another impressive newcomer is the striking Hannah-May Ward who is completely convincing as the black sheep in Robin Van Wyk’s ‘Adagio for Strings’. Her opening solo is compelling; definitely an outstanding moment of the show.
The second act returned to a more classic style with Van Wyk’s ‘Romance’, which is everything the title promises: flowery, soft, sentimental and very pink. It’s always great to see CTCB performing new works, especially when they showcase new dancers or explore the versatility of the dancers we are familiar with. In addition, being able to see what goes on inside the orchestra pit made Symphony of Dance a fascinating show.
Symphony of Dance runs at the Artscape Theatre from 7 to 11 October 2015.