Review: Scottish Ballet Autumn Tour

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First published in The Times, Wednesday September 30 2015

Three Stars

Scottish Ballet’s autumn tour programme is a triple bill of choreographic contrasts, showcasing new talent alongside established names. Perhaps inevitably, it proves something of a mixed bag, with the lasting impression being one of engaging moments rather than unadulterated pleasure.

The surprise opener is Maze, created by company dancer Sophie Laplane, which comprises complementary male and female duets set to Nick Cave’s soundtrack to The Road as well as electro music by Minologue and Xela.

The simplicity of the staging, with dancers performing in narrow corridors of light on an open stage, emphasises the pleasing, sharp-edged fluidity of Laplane’s choreography, which precisely tracks the light and shade in the soundtrack.

Motions of Displacement, created and designed by Bryan Arias, is a highly personal work, inspired by the choreographer’s own mother’s migration from El Salvador to the States. For all its political relevance, Arias’s piece takes a broader, and ultimately rather diffuse, approach to questions of displacement and belonging. From an initial ten-strong chain, individuals break free and are brought to the fore, their attempts to gather momentum abruptly curtailed before they are absorbed back into the thrusting group. The precarious nature of the positioning and movement is compelling, even if the switches between solo and group performance prove rather repetitive.

First performed by Rambert in 2003, Elsa Canasta, choreographed by Javier de Frutos, is built around Cole Porter’s 17-minute ballet Within the Quota and other works by the composer. De Frutos eschews narrative in favour of distilling the atmosphere of the Jazz Age, and while the staging is low on visual opulence, the content is uninhibited, at times wildly erotic, culminating in a series of cramped, frantic encounters that are amped up to dizzying levels by the choreographer. Some much-needed cooling off comes in the form of a sensuous male duet, danced by Victor Zarallo and Thomas Edwards to the strains of Porter’s So In Love, performed live by the satin-voiced Nick Holder.

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Sep 29 & 30; Eden Court, Inverness, Oct 2 & 3; His Majesty’s, Aberdeen, Oct 9 & 10; scottishballet.co.uk

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