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Ballet for ballet’s sake (oh and rugby be damned)

Alchemy is a show of three very different parts, all of which are a little challenging, none of them ever confronting, or hard. No pressure or head-scratching at all. I would venture to say that almost no thinking is required; lots of feeling though.

The senses are in charge during this production by Cape Town City Ballet at Artscape, which gave us a most delicious and glorious rest, especially coming as it does as we stagger to the end of this 2nd of two very tough and looong years.

Kyle Baird, Tamlyn Higgins and Chanté Daniels in Concerto Barocco, choreography by George Balanchine, performed by permission of the ©The George Balanchine Trust

Alchemy opens with Concerto Barocco, George Balanchine’s plotless ballet, of which Balanchine famously said: “See the music (Bach’s Double Violin Concerto).”

Make up your own story (who doesn’t do that anyway), with no danger of a conflict with the ‘real’ story, no risk of clashing with the official version. Your story is The Story.

In my story, which is almost entirely focused on the pas de deux between the two women (1st violin Tamlyn Higgins and 2nd violin Leane Theunissen on the night we saw it), they are non-identical twins, completely different while perfectly in sync. They are different in looks, energy and style yet perfectly in tune with each other.

As in life, the perfect partnership has a secret magic to it … ‘Who would have thought those two would be so good together …’

Concerto Barocco is performed by permission of the ©The George Balanchine Trust.

Mikayla Isaacs in Falling Angels

Part II, Jiri Kylian’s Falling Angels, is set to a hypnotic Steve Reich score, inspired by the percussive musical rituals of West Africa. This piece is about the tension between discipline and freedom. Or so we were told, but we were already lost to discipline. I blame Concerto Barocco, which freed us from the need to follow a plot. We chose that dreamy kind of freedom, where the brain is off and everything else is on.

Memory, knowledge and etc were banished as the senses were switched on. Falling Angels was mesmerising: eight ballerinas who never left the stage. This was rhythmic, fluid, contemporary dance of the type that takes you to another place and makes you moan with pleasure.

Alchemic, really.

For the finale, we had Robert North’s humorously butch and athletically impressive Troy Game. Rugby be dammed, I tell you.

As a pure representation of masculine power, the France-Argentina game later on the night Alchemy opened at Artscape, couldn’t hold a candle to this piece.

Athletic, ripped men throw each other around between gymnastic displays in what often looks like a video game featuring gladiators. Yet somehow this high octane, all-male ballet is threaded together with control, grace and rhythm, things that were missing in the France-Argentina game, which seemed a bit tame and very rough after Troy Game.

Alchemy, a fun and delightful night out, is on at the Artscape Opera House until November 13. Bookings are through Computicket and Artscape Dial-a-seat 021 421 7695.

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