Tag Archives: Christopher Harrison

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: The Rite of Spring – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

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Choreographer: Christopher Hampson

Music: Igor Stravinsky

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★½☆

An evening of stark contrast marks the start of Scottish Ballet’s Autumn/Winter season. Opening the bill The Rite of Spring, Christopher Hampton’s attempt to breathe new life into the now infamous ballet set to Igor Stravinsky’s ground-breaking score. Vaslav Nijinsky and Stravinsky’s work, now regarded as one of the most important works in the history of ballet, was a revolutionary work created in a revolutionary artistic time. Its tale of ritual sacrifice met with a critical mauling resulting in the now legendary ‘Riot at The Rite’ at its notorious premier in Paris 100 years ago.

Hampson pares the work down to just three dancers, two male and one female. The curtain opening on stark, white, high-sided, semi-circular walls, which claustrophobically enclose the dancers, we then bear witness to scenes of ritual violence, dominance and devotion played out between two brothers (Christopher Harrison and Constant Vigier) culminating in the curtain falling on the younger sibling broken, both physically and mentally, crumpled on the floor.

The curtain rises again as the elder brother enters, clad in army fatigues, clutching the tools of interrogation, a stool and a black hood. The white walls now most definitely the walls of a prison cell, the domination begins again, this time more intense, more brutal. The female dancer, in the first half a taunting presence, appears more menacing in the second, offering the younger brother his only escape from this unbearable torment – death. Vigier dances exhileratingly with power and passion bringing this short, sharp work to it’s savage and shocking end.

Though still gripping and intense and retaining some of the primal energy of the original, it is hard to say whether time or this particular staging have robbed the piece of its brutal power. The quality of the dancers is in no doubt, particularly Vigier and Harrison, and Hampson is a choreographer of sublime quality, the audience too remain intrigued throughout, but the decision to set the piece in no particular time or specific location somehow robs the narrative of clarity and one can’t help feeling that it is not the dance but Stravinsky’s exhilarating score that has always been the real star of The Rite of Spring.