Tag Archives: Sophie Martin

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: Scottish Ballet’s A Streetcar Named Desire – Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

Returning to the stage three years after its award-winning debut, Nancy Meckler’s direction, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s choreography and Tennessee Williams’ sublime words unite once again to create a richly atmospheric, captivating, Streetcar Named Desire from Scottish Ballet.

From her first fragile appearance fluttering around a bare lightbulb as a moth to a flame, it chronologically charts the agonising demise of fragile southern belle Blanche DuBois. From Blanche’s girlish innocence shattered on her wedding day when her husband’s homosexuality is discovered to his subsequent suicide, through the loss of her family home (startlingly realised onstage), her wilderness years relying on the kindness of paying strangers in sleazy motels, to her arrival on the doorstep of her younger sister Stella and her violent and boorish husband Stanley.

What is most surprising about this masterfully executed production is the fact that in the 100 minute running time, the creative team have not only stayed faithful to the source work but managed to pack in its contents in their entirety. A series of short, sharp scenes drives the narrative at break neck speed .

This is also a ballet that borrows heavily from the conventions of musical theatre, indeed there are hints ofGuys and Dolls and West Side Story in both the staging and the choreography, but instead of diminishing its power it all serves to enhance the storytelling and the audience’s enjoyment.

The design by Niki Turner is spare but effective and there is a knock-out score from Peter Salem, evocative and transixing it transports us right to the heart of the tale.

Eve Mutso is elegant and hugely accomplished as the wide-eyed, other worldly Blanche, indeed, she possesses a natural acting ability to complement her supreme dancing skills, however she is a striking presence, one of strength and power which is at times at odds with the butterfly-like fragility that is required for Blanche. Mutso is capably supported by Sophie Martin as sister Stella and Erik Cavallari is a suitably menacing Stanley.

This is production which strikingly breathes life into William’s classic tale  and one which will leave a lasting impression long after the curtain has gone down.

This review was originally written for and published by http://www.thepublicreviews.com at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/a-streetcar-named-desire-festival-theatre-edinburgh/

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.