A double act feature that will have you hooked
by David Simmons
It’s very rare we get to witness two completely different genres of dance in one very exciting and ambitious evening. Fire an Ice, a befitting name for two contrasting works, opened at the Joburg Theatre to mixed emotions. Diehard classical Ballet enthusiasts will revel in a gorgeous presentation of Act 3 of Raymonda, and those who appreciate modern dance will be equally indulged by the contemporary, Whispers of My Soul. Adjusting between the two pieces may be a little jolting for some, however the energy and mood shift between both acts make for a very ‘different’ theatrical experience.
As of late, Joburg audiences have been spoilt for choice with locally produced ballets that present a company of admirable dancers. It’s with ballets of this calibre that firmly bestow some of the best talent the country has to offer. For this season we get to observe two very different works of ‘art’.
The first represents the joy of traditional ballet, a genre that has been admired for centuries. The second showcasing for some may come across as unchartered territory, however it is very refreshing to see something original and innovative being staged. Dance, in its entirety is meant to explore different touch points both onstage and in the audience. Fire and Ice does just that and gives theatre goers something profound to talk about.
Raymonda Act 3 is the first time Johannesburg theatre goers will get to witness this famous Russian ballet. I would have loved to have been privy to the full -length work as we are offered a story steeped in romance and Hungarian influence. I found myself wanting to reverse a few steps to capture this enchanting story, however getting a taste of the final act added to an already noteworthy evening.
Sparkling costumes by Andrea Delgado created an almost imperial sensation which the dancers used to their advantage. With a glorious score by Russian composer Alexander Glazunov and staging by Brazilian producer Guivalde de Almeida, Raymonda Act 3 portrayed just the right amount of Ballet excellence.
For the second half of Fire and Ice, Whispers Of My Soul catapulted the audience into another dimension, a huge shift from the polite and elegant first act. This ‘new age’ offering brings with it the expertise of Paris-based choreographer, Redha who effortlessly transported viewers to a very dark and frigid place. It’s more Paris fashion show than dance exploration, but the combination works wonders.
The costumes, also designed by Redha needed a runway to showcase their craftmanship and were pivotal in brining the story the life. His offering is very haunting and at times you’ll find yourself unable to express your true feelings. The shear scope of the stage together with the usual movement of contemporary dance creates an out of body experience – something new to behold for amateur and novice dance lovers.
Pointing out exemplary performances from the company wouldn’t be fair, as each and every dancer took on their respective roles with aplomb and excellence. The transition from a 19th century Russian Ballet to an almost futuristic offering is no easy task, and it is very clear that these young professionals have what it takes to embody vastly different characters.
Raymonda and Whispers of My Soul will appeal to two completely different audiences and although we are lucky enough to be seduced by two works, each will have stimulating impacts.
Fire and Ice will be running at the Joburg Theatre until the 8th of July 2018. Tickets are available at Webtickets or at the theatre.
Photos by Lauge Sorensen