Saturday, 19 March 2016

Ballet Black Brilliance At The Barbican

Last night saw the London Premiere of Ballet Black's Triple Bill live at the Barbican, with only two nights to catch this astounding performance I was beyond excitement to be there on the opening night! This performance pulls together the company, Ballet Black which is made up of international dancers of black and Asian descent with three bold and inventive choreographers that collaborate to present, as the Barbican states, "an irresistible trilogy of narrative and abstract dance."

As the curtains drew open you could feel the anticipation in the air, the excitement, the intrigue to see what this triple performance had in store. Ballet has always been a draw for me, it brings together so many elements that remind me of the importance of the present moment. The power of the human body, strong and muscular intertwined with classical overtures that leave you breathless, all weighted in a central core narrative that is effortlessly played out. It also reminds me of my youth, when I , myself trained in ballet for over 10 years, ready to move onto point, but later let it drift away. I must admit I was new to Ballet Black and I feel sadly others are the same; where our education is rich in white bourgeois Russian dancers, and lacks the multiculturalism which is modern day living. So Ballet Black and others like it, that championed black and asian dancers is well overdue!

As the first performance started, that effortless delicacy that comes from professional dancers takes hold as they glide across the stage, extended limbs, held positions, lifts and turns, at every point you are in awe of the combined strength that filters through their core. The music, almost sporadic in its nature, heightens the glistering sequins on the ballerina's tutu, while the lights hit a shattered mirrored pendant that hangs down throwing brilliant bright shards of light across the stage. The music slows as the dancers draw back to their starting positions and we prepare ourselves for the second bill.

The light shifts, a cast of blue falls onto the stage and with this a large silk cloth flows over the dancers. It is difficult to express how this one movement of fabric automatically starts an emotive reaction that is impossible to stop. This fluid movement, intermixed with the classical scores from violin and piano was breathtaking, at that very moment I was deeply captivated, almost mesmerised as the tears rolled down my cheeks. Watching so intently, it was if time was standing still, while I was transported into another world, as two dancers intertwined where then later torn apart. This piece was extraordinary, so emotive that you could feel every part of the narrative playing through your veins. As closure approached, my heart was heavy and my eyes full of tears, a breath taking experience that will stay with me for many years. 

The finale piece was Storyville, described as, "a bittersweet fable of Nola, a farm girl who falls prey to unscrupulous characters and worldly desires in 1920s New Orleans, set to the haunting music of Kurt Weill,"  and it surely was that! This piece was full of embrace, power, corruption and distress, lit in crimson and bold in it's style, it was a stunning finale to the triple bill.

I can wholeheartedly say that this has to be one of the best ballet's I have ever seen and an evening that I will never forget. Ballet Black is unforgettable and I shall actively be looking out for more of their performances, they are truly not to be missed!

Saturday, 5 March 2016

ASX.TV: “Rebirth Negated By Truant Hope” - Melinda Gibson & Brad Feuerhelm

ASX, (American Suburb X) TV, bring to light the collaborative project I worked on with Brad Feuerhelm for a bespoke SPBH performance event at The Photographers' Gallery in conjunction with Aperture's Photobook Review! 

Reworking the text Brad wrote centred on the Richard Peter's book, Dresden: eine Kamera klagt an Dresdener Verlagsgesellschaft Dresden, Germany, 1949. The short film is an appropriation of internet source material backed with audio, text feed into a programme creating the generated script of an American voice. The resulting work is full of programme glitches, archival imagery with an overwhelming odour of destruction. A fast and playful piece that encapsulates Feuerhelm's text, echoing the original source material of the Dresden bombings.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Alexander Calder - A Tate Triumph

There are few things in this lifetime that can provide so much visual pleasure to so many, in a manner that seems so effortless it brings joy to the senses. But I can heartwarmingly say that the current Alexander Calder exhibition at the Tate Modern, achieves this and more. The show, if you have not yet had the pleasure to experience it, is bewilderingly beautiful. As I write this now, I feel the hairs on my neck and down my spine stand to attention, as if my fight-or-flight response had just materialised, but not to flee, but to bare witness to the poetic fluidity of Calder's world.  

From the moment you enter into the somewhat crowded room, you are immediately struck with a sense of calm, a graceful, almost peaceful aura washes over you as you read the introduction and start to weave through the rooms. Your eyes widening and widening through every exploration of figure, shape, structure and movement. Figures appear out of the walls, spinning and turning with a delicately that is truly stunning. At times it is if you are staring into another world, drop shadowed figures metamorphose right before your very eyes. But all this in the absence of sound. In a day an age that is full of loud, crash, bang, wallops, this silence is a mystifying magic.  

As you meander along the journey, for it really does feel like you are being taken on a superlative tour, more visual pleasures are awaiting you. As the audience glide through the exhibition the works move in tandem, responding to the weight and movement of air which are constantly being created and shifted in what seems spontaneity. But of course, is reactionary to the elegant nature of these works. The environment is so paramount to their movements, it is almost as if the works can not exist alone and us without the works.  

Room by room you are filled with joy as each movement is unique and each weightless in its nature. Spherical shapes, poignant coloured objects all interlinked with blackened wire frame what could be seen as a new galaxy, a scientific experiment, but all we miss are the scribbles of finds on a piece of paper, to the grand scale mobiles that physically leave you breathless. 

Language is powerful, but this exhibit touches your senses, your very humanity in a way that is almost too difficult to describe. It is most certainly one of the best exhibitions I have seen in this country and absolutely a Tate Triumph. 

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