How to celebrate the Scottish Ballet’s 50th anniversary… With tutus and tiaras? Princes and princesses? Glass slippers and fairy godmothers? Think again.
Bucking the trend, the Scottish Ballet put on a riotous party, bursting with energy and colour, to see in their fifth decade of dancing.
The explosive two-part show, Spring! – which refers to both the season and the dancers’ agility – was the perfect way to mark a significant milestone in the company’s history.
CEO and artistic director of the Scottish Ballet Christopher Hampson said: ‘We’re delighted to kick things off in style with this energetic, fun and celebratory double bill.’
A wonderful introduction from Christopher on the night added a personal touch to the evening, highlighting the tremendous efforts of the entire Scottish Ballet team in putting the production together – and those efforts most certainly paid off.
The first half of the show, ‘Dextera’, was choreographed by Sophie Laplane to music by Mozart – because why not pair a classic score with bongo drums and contemporary ballet?
Starting off with a single red glove falling from the sky that is donned by a solo male dancer, he finds himself overwhelmed by its power. Leading him across the stage in effervescent style, the glove is said to be an ode to the creators and their hands, paying tribute to their artistic vision.
Later joined on stage by his fellow Scottish Ballet counterparts, both the men and women on stage moved with incredible fluidity – as with every Scottish Ballet performance, you could see members of the audience growing by about two inches in their seats as they were drawn into the performance, mimicking the beautiful posture of those athletes in front of them.
With pared back, grey-tinged outfits and next to no backdrop, the dancers’ talent was put under the spotlight. To say nothing of their unwavering core stability and strength – the men, for instance, made lifting two women at once look like a leisurely stroll in Duthie Park – their ability to weave humour into their performances was inspired.
Beautifully rounding off the first half, 610 individually cut paper hands of all colours fell onto the stage, setting the tone for what was to come.
After the interval, ‘Elite Syncopations’ kick-started the party. Put together by Sir Kenneth MacMillan to Scott Joplin’s score, it was inspired by the social dances of the 1920s, including the likes of the Charleston.
Lit up in a cacophony of reds, yellows, greens and pinks, the outrageous carnival atmosphere was thrilling from the outset. The costumes alone were a wonderful sight to behold, all having been hand painted in bold designs to encapsulate the vivacious party spirit.
What’s more, the dancers were not alone on stage – instead, they were joined by a 13-man band who were wearing carnival costumes of their own. Ensuring the party was in full swing, the Scottish Ballet Orchestra worked its magic, making it hard for anyone to resist tapping their toes in appreciation.
The dancers’ performances were also sprinkled with wit. Jamiel Laurence, in particular, who joined the Scottish Ballet in 2009, raised many smiles with his charming portrayal of a nervous young man who just wanted to dance with the ladies – his ability to inject comedy while maintaining an immaculate performance was magnificent to see.
Spring! the 50th anniversary celebration will be running in Edinburgh from 2 to 4 May. A unique crowd-pleasing show that will have you smiling from start to finish, it showcases contemporary ballet at its best.
The dancers will go through a colossal 1,400 pairs of pointe shoes this year alone as they prepare to perform across the country in their 50th anniversary year, costing £56,000.
To support their Shoe Fund, or to find out more about their upcoming performances, visit the Scottish Ballet’s website.