Review by Carla Speight
Ballet British Columbia’s director Emily Molnar took over directing in 2009. Her personal history is a dancer with William Forsythe’s Ballet Frankfurt. Fortsythe’s choreography employed the classical techniques and pushed them to radically evolve. Emily has taken this concept and continued to evolve it’s theory within the Ballet British Columbia’s dance company.Producing what appears to be effortless, classically trained ballet with a very modern contemporary twist.
Although with how polished their work is, I am sure it is far from an effortless endeavour to achieve. Gracing the Lowry theatre’s stage providing three short pieces, Ballet British Columbia arrived on stage to show exactly how Molnar’ Forsythe inspired ethos works to make modern ballet relevant to a wider audience whilst maintaining the classical techniques one would expect.
The first of the three shows was 16 + a room, choreographed by Emily Molnar herself. Inspired by the writing of Jeannette Winterson and Virginia Woolf, set to an electronic score by Dirk P Haubrich. This piece is a fascinating introduction the the company’s style. The compelling movements from the dancers combine inspiration from hip hop and modern street dance techniques while maintaining the traditional techniques attributed to ballet. Hip sways turn to pirouettes and limbs pop into graceful extensions.
The movement around the stage slips and slides as if they were an inch above the stage, smooth and exquisitely coordinated. Emily Molnar describes this piece as a “metaphor for the unknown”. Her dance company certainly achieves this definition; with their complexly coordinated movements that leave the audience feeling that what happens next is completely unpredictable.
The second piece is “Solo Echo” choreographed by Crystal Pite. Like Emily Molnar, Crystal is Ballet Frankfurt alumna. Inspired by the poem Lines for Winter by the America poet Mark strand, Crystal set this piece to Two Brahms cello sonatas. Snow falls across the seven dancers who are beautifully lit from the side and behind. Unlike the previous piece, Crystal’s choreography uses the dancers to take the audience on a journey through the place between a narrative and abstract concepts.
The fine tuned choreography is exquisite; the passing encounters, the intertwined complexity of the ensemble is both intriguing and emotive. The third piece choreographed by Sharon Egal, is the mesmerising “Bill”. Set to fascinating modern music by Ori Lichtik, this peice includes the whole company. The captivating precision and impacting repetition of both traditional ballet and completely abstract movements, demands the audience’s attention.
It is a completely unexplained piece that is brilliantly weird, wonderfully unsettling and completely open to individual interpretation. Of all three this is the most memorable, perhaps because it displays the ethos of Ballet British Columbia, pushing ballet to evolve in the most striking way. Ballet British Columbia is currently on tour in the UK, this showcase is not to be missed.
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