Tag Archives: Bethany Kingsley-Garner

REVIEW: Scottish Ballet’s The Crucible – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

American choreographer Helen Pickett seals her reputation as a masterful creator of narrative ballet in her adaptation of Arthur Miller’s seminal play The Crucible. Teaming up with Scottish Ballet, themselves with a not-too-shabby reputation for staging classic American literary works (2012’s A Streetcar Named Desire), together they deliver a gripping, unsettling, goose bump-inducing work.

The prescience of the subject matter is in itself chilling, that a work written at the height of the Cold War and set at the Salem Witch Trials in the 1690’s, has a relevance in 2019, is shuddering to acknowledge.

Pickett’s choreography is refreshingly original, a blast of beautiful, lyrical modernity set against a historic backdrop. Her background as not only a dancer, but accomplished actress, has reaped dividends in this work. Each character is clearly defined, and the choreography is sufficiently emotive, nuanced and descriptive enough to drive the narrative.

Emma Kingsbury and David Finn’s design, dark and claustrophobic, is almost a character in itself and the wonderfully named Peter Salem’s score is a knock-out, pulsating, atmospheric, the sense of foreboding building throughout. It is notable in its perfect reflection of time and place, and is played gorgeously by the Scottish Ballet orchestra.

This is a company of universal quality and the entire work is danced with conviction, Barnaby Rook Bishop shines as John Proctor as does Bethany Kingsley-Garner as his wronged wife Elizabeth, who has matured into a beautifully nuanced dancer, Claire Souet is explosive as the vengeful manipulator Abigail and Katlyn Addison’s powerful, exquisitely danced Tituba is a delight.

This explosive work is a thrill from start to end, a fitting and unmissable addition to Scottish Ballet’s 50th anniversary season.

Runs until 28 September 2019 | Image: Jane Hobson

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Behind the Scenes as Scottish Ballet stage Matthew Bourne’s Highland Fling

Back in 2013, GTB was invited to breakfast with Scottish Ballet as they went through their morning class before the matinee and evening performances of Matthew Bourne’s innovative take on La Sylphide Highland Fling.

Here, from the archives are some rehearsal videos and behind the scenes shots of this hard-working (6 days a week!) company. Excuse the ropey camera phone video quality. Such a fabulous show – set in Glasgow – it deserves another moment in the spotlight.

Sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll is not the usual tag line for a Scottish Ballet production but Matthew Bourne could never be accused of being your usual choreographer and Scottish Ballet continue to cement their reputation as a company with a clear artistic vision, breaking new ground by introducing  innovative modern works alongside their vast classical repertoire.

This piece marks the first time Matthew Bourne has ever allowed another company to perform one of his works, such is his control over his artistic vision. That said, the two seemed destined to come together, Bourne’s Glasgow-set ballet finally coming home to the city and Scotland’s national ballet company.

Inspired by the classic romantic work La Sylphide, Highland Fling  is an imaginative re-working by Bourne with his usual wry twist and trademark eye for detail.

Highland Fling follows the story of James, a restless young Glaswegian recently married to his devoted girlfriend Effie, but James’ addiction to excess and desire to break free of  the restrictions and expectations  placed on him by his environment finds him in the fateful company of a beguiling gothic fairy.  As his love for the strange and beautiful sylph becomes an obsession, he embarks on a fateful journey that takes him from the mean streets and nightclubs of Glasgow into a magical world beyond reality and reason.

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As our (anti)hero staggers on-set and slumps to the floor against a urinal in the toilet of a Glasgow nightclub we are in no doubt that this isn’t going to be your usual ballet, but what really sets it apart, along with all of Bourne’s work, is the stunning complexity and intricacy of the choreography and the sharpness and accuracy with which it is executed. Owen Thorne’s performance as James is a testament to Bourne’s particular method of working: this is a character with a history, a back-story and Thorne manages to deliver the choreography whilst perfectly conveying the conflicted Glaswegian tough-guy persona underneath. Bethany Kingsley-Garner as the sylph is utterly other-worldly, beautifully conveying this bewitching creature from another realm. Both are ably supported by an ensemble of characters instantly recognisable to any city dweller.

highland fling scottish ballet

Lez Brotherston’s set design is a character in itself. It has more tartan than a tin of shortbread, delivering a technicolour assault to the senses, but looking beyond the obvious, witty nods to the best and worst of Caledonia abound. Brotherston also manages to perfectly evoke the eerie world of the sylphs nestled amongst the debris and detritus of a wasteland in the shadow of the Glasgow highrises.

Matthew Bourne's Highland Fling, performed by the Scottish Ballet

Part of the beauty of this cautionary tale is its brevity, at just over 95 minutes it packs a visual and emotional punch that leaves you reeling and begging for more.

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REVIEW: Cinderella, Scottish Ballet – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Christopher Hampson’s production, originally created for the Royal New Zealand Ballet, finally arrived in Glasgow this month after a European premiere and a festive stint in our capital city. Set to Prokofiev’s 1945 score and on Tracy Grant Lord’s grand set, it faithfully follows Charles Perrault’s much-loved, rags to riches story as we know it.

Whilst there is much to admire here, the complex choreography will delight ballet aficionados and the dancers largely deliver their roles with aplomb, the nearly two and half hour running time and the lack of visual ‘sparkle’ leaves it lacking that certain something that makes for a truly spectacular festive ballet treat, and the tiny audience members (of whom there were many) were wriggling and restless by the end.

Bethany Kingsley-Garner as the titular heroine is a divine dancer, but her fixed expression lacks the range of emotion the character requires. Christopher Harrison, usually a sure-footed and assured performer, suffered from some serious wobbles as the Prince and again the lack of emotion left one feeling cold. Most successful are Eve Mutso and Sophie Martin as the ‘wicked’ step-sisters, the pair are an absolute delight and their acting skills admirable (the company will feel the loss of Mutso greatly as she leaves to pursue a career as a freelance dancer/choreographer after this tour). This is a company with undoubtedly talented dancers, but one can’t help feel that they are lacking somewhat in the acting/emotion department.

Richard Honner and the Scottish Ballet Orchestra are on fine form and the sound throughout is sumptuous. This is a thoroughly entertaining production, with some real highlights but one can’t help feeling it could have been so much more.

Image: Andy Ross/ Scottish Ballet

REVIEW: Scottish Ballet Autumn Season – Maze, Motion of Displacement and Elsa Canasta – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

As a signal of intent, Scottish Ballet has started their new season with a bang with a world and a UK premier in one evening.

Those seeking tutus and pointe shoes may be disappointed, but this thoroughly modern trio of works is a refreshing move towards the future.

Opening with the unbilled Maze by company member Sophie Laplane, the innovative, original and hypnotic work is an intriguing exploration of the forms a body in motion can take. The male duos bristle with jagged, spiky, angular jabs, the female duos popping, fizzing and crackling with electricity. This arresting and visually compelling work looks set to assure Laplane’s career long after she’s hung up her pointe shoes.

New York choreographer Bryan Arias’ Motion of Displacement is an emotional response to the choreographer’s mother’s experience of leaving her homeland in pursuit of a better life. It is more free-form poem than linear narrative and hints at both the strength and heartbreak experienced on Senora Arias’ journey. At times, it is stunningly beautiful – the chain of dancers at the start and end delicately intertwined is stunning, but for all the glorious individual sequences there is a lack of drive and emotionally it feels very similar throughout.

As the old adage says: “save the best for last”, multi-talented (Turner Prize nominated, West End Musical choreographing, Olivier and Critics Circle Award-winning, music videos and ballet creating with the Pet Shop Boys) Javier de Frutos’ Elsa Canasta is a witty and wonderful winner.

Combining the music of the legendary Cole Porter with de Frutos’ entertaining and inventive choreography, and fairy-dusted with the glorious singing of Nick Holder, this is a crowd-pleaser from start to end. As the vocalist reminisces on the heady days of the 20s and 30s, he reflects on the experiences he has lived through, the choices made and roads not travelled. Re-worked from his original piece for Rambert, the characters have been expanded by de Frutos and the balance of genders redefined.

There is so much to see here, glorious little sequences spring up all around the stage, it is sexy, sassy and a joy to watch. Particularly effective are the poignant and powerful male-male duet between Victor Zarallo and Thomas Edwards and the all-too-familiar boyfriend/girlfriend scuffle between the always entertaining Erik Cavallari and Sophie Martin.

As an opening to the new season – a crowd-pleasing triumph that leaves you wanting more.

Image credit: Andy Ross

Nick Holder and the dancers of Scottish Ballet in Javier de Frutos’ Elsa Canasta

REVIEW: Hansel and Gretel – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

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Andrew Peasgood and Bethany Kingsley-Garner as Hansel & Gretel by Christina Riley. © Scottish Ballet used with permission Scottish Ballet do not copy, alter or reproduce.

In Hansel and Gretel, Christopher Hampson’s premier ballet since joining the company in 2012, Scottish Ballet has their first new work in six years. A sparkling little jewel of a show, even if it is, at times, a little too sanitized a version of the original Grimm fairy tale; there’s no wicked stepmother here, just two mischievous kids (Andrew Peasgood & Bethany Kingsley-Garner) with a sense of adventure, loved by their boozy, chain-smoking, slightly neglectful parents (the always stunning Eve Mutso and Erik Cavallari).

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Erik Cavallari and Eve Mutso as Mother and Father. Photo by Christina Reilly © Scottish Ballet used with permission Scottish Ballet do not copy, alter or reproduce.

Set in an un-named town sometime in the 50’s/60’s, there are beehives, headscarves, winged specs and even a black leather-clad biker gang The Ravens, beautifully danced with precision by Daniel Davidson, Rimbaud Patron and Thomas Edwards. There’s also a glamorous dream sequence with mother and father transformed into Grace Kelly and Cary Grant à la To Catch a Thief. The piece also abounds with wonderful witty touches like the Scottish Mother’s Pride loaf used to create the famous breadcrumb trail.

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© Scottish Ballet used with permission Scottish Ballet do not copy, alter or reproduce.

Kingsley-Garner and Peasgood achieve the not easy feat of convincingly portraying the childish pair and do so with ease. Mutso, is as usual graceful and eye-catching (in the role of mother in this cast), Luciana Ravizzi as the Witch is amusing when transformed from ethereal being to old crone but somewhat expressionless (or rather fixed faced) in the earlier sequences and Victor Zarallo is suitably sinister as the sinuous Sandman.

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Victor Zarallo as the Sandman by Christina Riley. © Scottish Ballet used with permission Scottish Ballet do not copy, alter or reproduce.

Humperdinck’s music is easy on the ear in this cut and paste version from his opera of the same name, it is mixed in with snippets from his version of Sleeping Beauty, added to retain the flow of the narrative. The sets are enchantingly designed too with some nice Tim Burton-esque details. Hampson’s choreography is varied, original and highly watchable and showcases his company well. If any criticism were to be levelled at the whole endeavor then, for a Christmas ballet, it is a little lacking in the all-out glitz ensemble pieces, usually worked in to enchant the younger members of the audience, that said, there is plenty of sparkle, a lot of laughs and there’s no more enjoyable or magical way to spend the pre-Christmas period. Beg, borrow or steal a ticket while you can.

This Wednesday (18th December) Scottish Ballet are broadcasting a live webcast.

Broadcasting live from Theatre Royal Glasgow where the dancers will be warming up on stage for a performance of Hansel & Gretel. You will be taken into the wings and behind the curtain to take a look at the extensive and eccentric props used and hear artistic director and choreographer of the work, Christopher Hampson and the dancers talk about what the creation of this world premiere has been like. 

The webcast will stream at 4.30pm on Wed 18 Dec and as always, you’ll be able to send in your questions for Christopher and the team to be answered during the webcast. Email them to christina.riley@scottishballet.co.uk or tweet them to us @scottishballet with the hashtag #SB_Webcast.

Keep updated on Facebook and Twitter and subscribe to the newsletter for more updates.

Find it here:

http://www.scottishballet.co.uk/hansel-gretel/live-webcast-hansel-a-gretel.html

Runs until 28 December at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow then touring throughout Scotland and visiting Newcastle and Belfast.

For more information on Scottish Ballet visit:

http://www.scottishballet.co.uk

*Look out for the next article featuring Scottish Ballet, The Blythswood Hotel and Spa and their wonderful Hansel and Gretel themed afternoon tea and cocktails available now.

http://www.townhousecompany.com/blythswoodsquare/

REVIEW: Elite Syncopations – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

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This review was originally written for and published by The Public Reviews

Choreographer: Kenneth MacMillan

Music: Scott Joplin and others

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★☆

The second half of Scottish Ballet’s evening of contrasts is Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s much-loved Ragtime romp Elite Syncopations, the joyous celebration of the depression era dance marathon. Influenced by silent movie era slapstick and the popular dances of the era, the Charleston and Cakewalk, MacMillan’s witty choreography allows each dancer to showcase themselves at their most exuberant, expressive and eccentric, as they pose, preen and prance to the jazz time beat in front of their bitter dance rivals.

The costumes and staging are as much a character as the dancers in this work: the band clad in comedic creations and the dancers in Ian Spurling’s cheeky, lycra bodysuits perfectly enhancing the playfulness of the work. The characters are drawn large in this work and it is to Hampson’s credit that they remain sharp and retain their technique, never descending into cheap caricature.

The principals are unwaveringly excellent, in particular Eve Mutso, a dancer of supreme grace and technique, who uses her height to advantage in the always comic “Alaskan Rag” with Jamiel Laurence her rather more vertically challenged partner. The two are well cast in this hysterical show stopper. Sophie Martin’s precise technique is showcased to perfection in the “Stop Time Rag” and the always watchable Bethany Kingsley-Garner gets to show off her playful side in the effervescent “Calliope Rag”.

If any criticism is to be levelled at the work it is with the music. Whilst there is no doubt that the jazzy soundtrack has a peppy and infectious verve, it is all rather similar in tone and character, the whole enterprise becoming a tad one-note, this, in turn then carries over into the choreography. It is however redeemed by the fact that the piece is so short and so enjoyable despite its minor faults that one is ultimately left begging for more.

An effervescent, energetic, exuberant and thoroughly enjoyable evening at the ballet.

REVIEW: Scottish Ballet – Matthew Bourne’s Highland Fling

highlandfling

Sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll is not the usual tag line for a Scottish Ballet production but Matthew Bourne could never be accused of being your usual choreographer and Scottish Ballet continue to cement their reputation as a company with a clear artistic vision, breaking new ground by introducing  innovative modern works alongside their vast classical repertoire.

This piece marks the first time Matthew Bourne has ever allowed another company to perform one of his works, such is his control over his artistic vision. That said, the two seemed destined to come together, Bourne’s Glasgow-set ballet finally coming home to the city and Scotland’s national ballet company.

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Inspired by the classic romantic work La Sylphide, Highland Fling  is an imaginative re-working by Bourne with his usual wry twist and trademark eye for detail.

Highland Fling follows the story of James, a restless young Glaswegian recently married to his devoted girlfriend Effie, but James’ addiction to excess and desire to break free of  the restrictions and expectations  placed on him by his environment finds him in the fateful company of a beguiling gothic fairy.  As his love for the strange and beautiful sylph becomes an obsession, he embarks on a fateful journey that takes him from the mean streets and nightclubs of Glasgow into a magical world beyond reality and reason.

Matthew Bourne's Highland Fling, performed by the Scottish Ballet

As our (anti)hero staggers on-set and slumps to the floor against a urinal in the toilet of a Glasgow nightclub we are in no doubt that this isn’t going to be your usual ballet, but what really sets it apart, along with all of Bourne’s work, is the stunning complexity and intricacy of the choreography and the sharpness and accuracy with which it is executed. Owen Thorne’s performance as James is testament to Bourne’s particular method of working: this  is a character with a history, a back-story and Thorne manages to deliver the choreography whilst perfectly conveying the conflicted Glaswegian tough-guy persona underneath. Bethany Kingsley-Garner as the sylph is utterly other-wordly, beautifully conveying this bewitching creature from another realm. Both are ably supported by an ensemble of characters instantly recognisable to any city dweller.

highliandfling_2549654b

Lez Brotherston’s set design is a character in itself. It has more tartan than a tin of shortbread, delivering a technicolour assault to the senses, but looking beyond the obvious, witty nods to the best and worst of Caledonia abound. Brotherston also manages to perfectly evoke the eerie world of the sylphs nestled amongst the debris and detritus of a wasteland in the shadow of the Glasgow highrises.

Part of the beauty of this cautionary tale is its brevity, at just over 95 minutes it packs a visual and emotional punch that leaves you reeling and begging for more.

This is one of Scottish Ballet’s attempts to attract a new audience through its doors – what the old guard make of it remains to be seen, but this arresting tale, beautifully told, deserves to be seen. I urge you not to miss it.

On tour:

INVERNESS
9–11 May 2013
Eden Court
Box Office 01463 234 234
Book online
Full booking details

ABERDEEN
16-18 May 2013
His Majesty’s Theatre
Box Office 01224 641122
Book online
Full booking details

EDINBURGH
22-25 May 2013
Festival Theatre
Box Office 0131 529 6000
Book online
Full booking details

Booking fees may apply

FEATURE: Having a Highland Fling with Scottish Ballet

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‘Ballet meets Trainspotting’ in Scottish Ballet’s current production of Matthew Bourne’s Highland Fling, and to celebrate the Glasgow performances Scottish Ballet invited Bloggers, Tweeters, Facebookers and Instagrammers to join them for a special insight event at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal yesterday .

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Starting with breakfast and a chance to meet fellow online theatre writers, the day then continued with an insightful and entertaining talk from Scottish Ballet education officer Emma Jane McHenry. We were eloquently taken through the development of Matthew Bourne’s stunning re-interpretation of La Sylphide, from the inspiration to create the piece, the design process (with a chance to see the costumes up close) and an intriguing insight into how Bourne’s signature choreography has developed.

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Next was the exclusive chance to watch the Company taking class on stage here at the Theatre Royal as the dancers rehearse scenes from this ‘romantic wee ballet’.

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*(Look out for the photo-post of the class, coming next.)

The morning ended with the chance to meet and talk to three of the stunningly talented dancers: Owen Thorne, Brenda Lee Grech and Bethany Kingsley-Garner who insightfully talked us through the development of their characters and the difficulties and differences classically trained dancers have adapting to  Bourne’s choreographic style and artistic process.

This was a fantastic event,  not to be missed, a privileged insight into Scottish Ballet and its works, delivered by friendly, welcoming, knowledgeable and utterly entertaining staff and artists.

Scottish Ballet’s production of Matthew Bourne’s Highland Fling is touring to, Inverness, Aberdeen and Inverness throughout May 2013. For more information please visit www.scottishballet.co.uk