A company trail-blazing in the art form of ballet, Ballet Black have enjoyed over a decade of critical acclaim. Really helping to shatter the perception of ballet being; in terms of who can dance it and who can watch it, Ballet Black add soul, strength and a unique interpretation to the genre.

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Presenting their latest production Triple Bill at Stratford East Theatre Royal, the effervescent dance company perform a triptych of contrasting scenes, highlighting their versatility and stamina. The opening act transports the audience to a fairytale inspired kingdom, a prince is awoken whilst an enigmatic fairy-godmother type character fills the stage with a magic that only she inhabits. Sayaka Ichikawa and Jacob Wye dance beautifully; Arthur Pita‘s integration of traditional balletic techniques and Western African motifs really opening up the conversation as to what ballet can truly achieve. Innovation is key, and this is something that Ballet Black excel at. What the piece lacks in emotionally, it makes up for in the grace and partnership of the 2 dancers.

The second part of this trilogy truly showcases the traditional elements of ballet. The piece is eloquent and considered, a continual display of powerful partner work and grace. Cira Robinson beams as a regal individual. The mastery in which a continuous piece of cloth drapes around her and cascades to the ground, creating an illusion of a royal gown only validates the magic in which this company bring. Whilst watching this piece, I can’t help but think just how many aspiring young ballet dancers watching this will be inspired to take up lessons or pursue joining a company as prestigious as this. Kanika Carr,  Isabela Coracy, Joshua Harriette, Damien Johnson, Mthuthuzeli November and Cira Robinson beautifully navigate the space in their pairs, really illuminating Christopher Marney‘s romanticised choreography. Dustin O’Halloran‘s musical accompaniments truly take the audience on an emotional journey, Making it for a very moving piece.

The final part of the bill really highlights how exciting this company is. Titled Storyville the piece is a fatal tale of debauchery, romance and heartbreak. A young female trying to make her way in the world, with bright prospects finds her world upside down by Nola (Cira Robinson), a heartless bar owner not at all concerned by her worker’s well being. The use of the filmic convention of introducing characters by them holding up boards with their names is tongue in cheek and goes down very well. The gradual realisation of Lulu White’s (Sayaka Ichikawa) fatal conclusion makes the piece even more poignant. Storyville includes the whole cast and is an absolute triumph. It’s fun and fearless, and again in typical Ballet Black fashion keeps the audience guessing as to what they’ll deliver next! 4/5

Review written by Lucy Basaba

Triple Bill was shown at the Stratford East Theatre Royal from Thursday 6th until Saturday 8th October. For more information on the production, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop