There is a disarming modesty about Ballet Cymru that is in contrast with the company’s burgeoning position as Wales’ consistently appealing and embracing dance organisation, with a reach and popularity that is completely at odds with its very limited funding.
If you were to start from scratch and draw up a sensible, development and audience-faced dance strategy for Wales and apportion funding according you certainly wouldn’t be where we are now.
Case in point is the latest presentation from Ballet Cymru, Made In Wales, which presented an evening of dance from pre-professional dancers performing to four pieces of choreography from artists connected with the company, either new works or adaptations from existing repertoire. The Wales-based choreographers were Alex Hallas, Jack Philp, Emma Lewis, Patricia Vallis, Darius James and Amy Doughty. Each gave a short video talk about their work which gave the evening homogeneity.
A Child’s Christmas and Poems and Tigers Eggs with Mason Neely and Cerys Matthews music and Dylan Thomas’ poetry was created by James and Doughty for their main repertoire and here two elegant dances flow on the poet’s In My Craft or Sullen Art and Fern Hill. Just as the style of the two poems capture extremes of Thomas’ work so too the choreography contrasts a measured and intense dance vocabulary with youthfulness and vitality expressed through joyful movement.
Emma Lewis’ As We Are gives the dancers the opportunity to communicate with one another and with their audience. The choreography explores a myriad of expressions and connections through movement and gesture including using the dancers’ eyes to reach out to their viewers.
In sharply differing style and tempo Alex Hallas takes the dancers on a fast-paced dance wave of contemporary and classical movements to the hypnotic instruments and voice power of Karl Jenkins in Concerto Jenkins. This pulse raising 13 minutes with all the dancers could not but help to make you wonder what Ballet Cymru could achieve if they always had resources to create and present such work across Wales.
With the always interesting choreographer Jack Philp we moved into a new mind and physical space for his work Ex Situ. Continuing the choreographers work in exploring science and art, the work considered intriguing ways of moving, melding and moulding the dancers’ forms.
Patricia Vallis’ Divided We Stand brought the evening to a topical close with her work, as she explained in video introduction, looking at division, whether gender, race or politics with the unavoidable B word. The quickly changing and developing choreography surfed on the glorious music of Purcell to give her dancers differing moods and atmospheres to shape the dialogue from individual sparring partners in red and blue corners to interlocking and breaking chains of movement.
The results, judging from the strength and enthusiasm of the performers, demonstrated the success of this programme helping to bridge the worlds of training and professional dance. These 13 young dancers, Natalia Cimpeanu, Beau Dillen, Kibyusa Forcos, Anais Gentjens, Colleen Grace, Emma Ikavalko, Caitlin Liston, Renan Alvez Manhaes, Sophie Morris, Giulia Machado Rossi, Michaela Skuce, Naomi Stientstra and Ann Wall, were in very good hands – and for we the audience it was a delight to experience such individuality from a new generation of dancers.
Images: Sian Trenberth