Now in its 21st year, Ballet Black’s repertoire is an enviable collection of specially commissioned work, and director Cassa Pancho is not afraid to take risks when bringing in new pieces.
Pioneers, the double bill that Ballet Black brings to the ROH Linbury Theatre this autumn, opens with Will Tuckett’s 2020 Then or Now, his third work for the company and the perfect showcase for the dancers' classical technique.
It is danced to a soundtrack which intersperses poems by the American activist Adrienne Rich with Von Biber’s Passacaglia for solo violin, adapted and played by Daniel Pioro. Then or Now is a collection of abstract dances, forming constantly shifting patterns of solos, duets and ensembles, performed on a stage naked except for a number of white plastic chairs, all unobtrusively lit by David Platter.
The second work of the evening, NINA: By Whatever Means, is an homage by the company’s South African dancer and prolific choreographer Mthuthuzeli November to the African-American singer, songwriter and civil rights activist Nina Simone.
An intense and heartfelt biographical work, it portrays key scenes of Nina Simone's life, from childhood, when she learned to play the classical piano, through to adulthood, concentrating on her committed, angry and rousing campaign for civil rights.
November is credited for choreography, direction, set design and scenery, and co-composer of the soundtrack, which sadly does not include a lot of Simone's own music.
On the plus side NINA: By Whatever Means elicits a commanding performance from Isabela Coracy as Nina, perfectly capturing the singer's power and defiance.
Age Guidance: 7+
|What||Ballet Black, Pioneers, Linbury Theatre|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
16 Nov 23 – 19 Nov 23, 19:45 Sun at 15:00. Dur.: 1 hour 45 mins inc one interval
|Website||Click here to book|