Scottish Ballet present their Autumn season this week, featuring work by two of the world’s most highly regarded and original choreographers.
Javier de Frutos with Company dancers in rehearsals for Elsa Canasta. Photo by Christina Riley
Elsa Canasta is a dark, funny and sexy evocation of the music of Cole Porter. With a touch of music hall magic, a singer who will share the stage and breathtaking partnering, the Scottish Ballet dancers will be having a ball. Choreographed by Javier de Frutos, a unique figure in the world of dance with a résumé that includes West End musicals, a Turner Prize nomination, Olivier and Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards, music videos and a full-length ballet in collaboration with the Pet Shop Boys.
Also on the bill will be Motion of Displacement by Bryan Arias, winner of the 6th Copenhagen International Choreography Competition in 2013. Arias is a young American choreographer at the start of an exciting career that is sure to propel him to the heights of his profession, Scottish Ballet is the first company to bring his unique blend of dance styles to the UK.
An exclusive commission from Scottish Ballet, Motion of Displacement will explore the causes and effects of storytelling, inspired by his own childhood memories of his mother’s journey from her native land in pursuit of love.
Scottish Ballet dancers in rehearsals for Javier de Frutos’ Elsa Canasta. Photo by Christina Riley.
Constant Vigier in rehearsals for Javier de Frutos’ Elsa Canasta. Photo by Christina Riley.
Eve Mutso in rehearsals for Javier de Frutos’ Elsa Canasta. Photo by Christina Riley.
Andrew Peasgood and Constant Vigier with Rehearsal Director Hope Muir in rehearsals for Javier de Frutos’ Elsa Canasta. Photo by Christina Riley.
Victor Zarallo and Thomas Edwards in rehearsals for Javier de Frutos’ Elsa Canasta. Photo by Christina Riley.
Javier de Frutos in rehearsals for Elsa Canasta. Photo by Christina Riley.
Constance Devernay with Rimbaud Patron in rehearsals for Javier de Frutos’ Elsa Canasta. Photo by Christina Riley.
Shoes in the Peter Darrell Studio. Photo by Christina Riley.
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).
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet them to us @scottishballet with the hashtag #SB_Webcast.