Performance celebrates local talent
In its 45th year, The Bermuda Civic Ballet Summer Selections 2016 brought with it styles of dance and choreography beyond what we’re used to en pointe.
The performance ran at Earl Cameron Theatre last weekend and offered a fresh take on classical ballet, modern dance and a little hip-hop.
Dancers from NYC’s Pascal Rioult Dance Theatre, Balanchine and London’s Matthew Bourne company spent five weeks on island teaching Bermuda’s talent.
For the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, Civic director Coral Waddell stayed true to her elegant choreography style in Ode to Shakespeare where freshly awoken dancers move like fauns around a mythical graveyard.
For Think of Me, Ally Lusher Tatem seemed to choreograph with the camera in mind — their poses strong and cinematic against the simple backdrop.
The dancer and photographer studied at the School of American Ballet and has worked with esteemed Balanchine ballerinas Suki Schorer and Melissa Hayden.
The third piece, Crystal Wings by New York dance company Rioult’s Mariana Tsortollia incorporated modern movement, their arms tick over in deliberate flight signals.
Alexis Richens has also danced with Civic since she was a young student. Now a dance instructor at DanceSations, she brought attitude beyond the classic ballet position to Feeling Nostalgic. Choosing an electronic track by Flume featuring vocals from Canadian singer-songwriter Kai, Flume’s synonymous trap and bass allowed the dancers to move freely into positions that were as suited to a yoga studio as the stage.
Rioult’s Dream Suite, too, proved more fluid than traditional ballet. Foot cocked instead of pointed, shoulders shrugged and elbows raised brought hip-hop style to Tchaikovsky’s sound.
Angelina Hayward Simas studied hip-hop, modern and salsa. A teacher at Jackson School of Performing Arts and Saltus Grammar School, her Ratatata, danced to a remix, was wholly unexpected.
The ten dancers entered from the back. They twerk in tank tops. They count each other in. They’re not only dancers but gymnasts, with all the control of both athletes, using front walkovers and wrist flicks like the end of a mat routine.
Damien Johnson of Ballet Black, who danced in both the Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts and Civic in 2014, taught and danced Balanchine’s Square Dance. With the stage to himself, it was the perfect platform to display his talents.
A very classical ballet solo, his control was remarkable. As if accompanied by an invisible partner, he’s held back and left free when the piece calls for it.
Husband and wife duo Sam Archer and Steph Elstob Archer appropriated Matthew Bourne’s choreography for the Bermuda show. Together, they performed a pas de deux from The Car Man and a selection of three pieces from his Sleeping Beauty.
They’re eerily synchronised — their animated expressions as impressive as their form.
Last summer the pair took a special course to become accredited teachers of Sir Matthew’s choreography, and they have been teaching this to the Civic’s corps de ballet.
Principal dancer Mr Archer tackled the stage solo in white socks, moving as if through a ballroom. Sleeping Beauty opens with Mrs Archer in a white dress. Natural and happy movements make way for the 11 accompanying dancers to join the slumber party. The piece gave the local students a chance to learn the styles of celebrated choreographer Sir Matthew, all to civic’s credit. The annual programme brings dancers the opportunity to collaborate and celebrates local talent.
From the steps to the music, the costumes and the lighting, Summer Selections 2016 demonstrated just that.