Wolfing it down
The big draw of Ballet Black’s new Triple Bill was Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s world premiere of Red Riding Hood. Taking a sidelong look at ye olde faerie tale it gives the main characters a bit more contemporary chutzpah and a soundtrack to die for.
It worked best in the more comedic first half, with Mthuthuzeli November’s Wolf stealing not only the heart of every female he encountered on stage but also the entire show. Smooth, suave and overflowing with charisma, he had the audience bent double with laughter; the scene where he seduced three ladies simultaneously was downright hilarious.
The very masculine Grandmother was also an on pointe joy to watch, all of which made Cira Robinson’s Red Riding Hood less striking, more of a vessel for events happening around her who only gets control of herself right at the end.
It’s a very adult interpretation of Red Riding Hood’s development into womanhood, full of sensuous choreography and unsettling characters. However, when our heroine becomes yet another conquest of the Wolf, the lurch into a darker narrative jars a little and some of the ballet’s hard-won momentum is lost. Still, this is an entertaining, thoughtful piece full of brilliant moments and worth watching just to witness November’s big bad wolf.
Opening the Bill had been another premiere, that of Michael Corder’s House of Dreams. Centred around two couples who, on the whole, seem fairly happy with life, it’s a series of charming classical duets brimming with musicality. Sayaka Ichikawa stood out for her delicate expression and somehow Yukiko Tsukamoto managed to design shiny gold bodices and short, brightly coloured tulle skirts that looked rather fetching.
Martin Lawrance’s 2012 piece Captured focusses on a young couple who seem to be caught in the midst of a relationship crisis. It’s way too long but Cira Robinson and Mthuthuzeli November play it from the heart; they’re terrifically in tune with one another and handle their individual stories superbly. An older, presumably parental, couple are lurking in the sidelines but, despite some decent dancing from Isabela Coracy and José Alves, their roles aren’t defined enough to hold the attention. All in all, though, this Triple Bill was a fine night out.
Ballet Black perform at London’s Barbican Centre until 4 March 2017 before embarking on a UK tour. More info and tickets can be found on the Ballet Black website.