Review: ALCHEMY - Cape Town City Ballet Astounds with Energetic Triple Bill

Pieces from George Balanchine, Jiří Kylián and Robert North bring strength and style to the Artscape stage

By: Nov. 08, 2021
Review: ALCHEMY - Cape Town City Ballet Astounds with Energetic Triple Bill
Kyle Baird, Tamlyn Higgins and Chanté Daniels in Concerto Barocco
Concerto Barocco choreography by George Balanchine
Performed by permission of the ©The George Balanchine Trust

Cape Town City Ballet has entered the summer season with a vibrant trio of performances in ALCHEMY - THREE DANCES. Honouring three of the world's most celebrated male choreographers from the 20th century, ALCHEMY stands as a programme dominated by accomplishments of athleticism.

ALCHEMY's first work is George Balanchine's dynamic and iconic Concerto Barocco. As the starting piece, the plotless Concerto Barocco is high energy but also elegant. I was skeptical when reading that Concerto Barocco was an invitation to "see the music", but the meaning of this is soon realized. Set to Bach's Concerto for Two Violins, the corps de ballet was particularly unified throughout this performance and provided a graceful support for First and Second Violin. First Violin Tamlyn Higgins appears light and moves seamlessly onstage, making her movements fluid. Having last seen Second Violin Leané Theunissen in the title role in CARMEN last month, she brings a finesse with her to this piece that follows her throughout her dancing. Overall, Concerto Barocco was a well-chosen and masterful beginning to the ALCHEMY programme.

Review: ALCHEMY - Cape Town City Ballet Astounds with Energetic Triple Bill
Olivia Parfitt in Falling Angels

The second piece, Falling Angels, was nothing like I had seen before from CTCB. The fast-paced, eight women work from Jiří Kylián is a feat of concentration, synchronization, and athleticism. The opening night cast of Falling Angels worked effortlessly together as they melted as a unit; even when the solo pieces Kylián has choreographed allowed individual dancers to stand out. There is furthermore something to be said of répétiteur Elke Schepers' work with the ballet as she has brought out an untouchable strength in the cast while still keeping stylistic integrity. The dancers onstage almost appear intimidating and enchanting at the same time.

The lighting design is also wonderful in this work. Conceptualized by Kylián and realized by Joost Biegelaar, lighting is used to dissect the stage, and dancers use their spaces in controlled co-ordination with the lighting. It brings out a great patriotism to know that this performance by CTCB is the first time a Kylián work has been staged by a South African company, as it really was expertly done.

Review: ALCHEMY - Cape Town City Ballet Astounds with Energetic Triple Bill
Bhungane Mehlomakhulu in Troy Game

The third and final piece of ALCHEMY is Robert North's Troy Game. A tangible change of ambience from the women's Falling Angels, Troy Game had a delightfully light-hearted feel to it while remaining equally engaging. Described by the New York Times as an "innovative blend of acting and movement", this playful piece is scored by a samba-esque catchy drum beat and allows dancers the opportunity to show off prowess and personality - which all eight male dancers were in abundance of at opening night. Répétiteur for this work, Julian Moss, reaches incredible (literal) heights with the cast, and Troy Game stands on its own as a memorable burst of energy from the male company of CTCB.

There is so much that can be said of the effort that has gone into ALCHEMY. This production was nothing short of astounding. With live performance and theatre making a well-earned return to our stages, ALCHEMY is definitely a production from 2021 not to be missed.

Photo credit: Joan Ward

ALCHEMY - THREE DANCES will be presented until 13 November. Performances are on 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 November at 19h30, with a matinee on Saturday 13 November at 15h00.
Tickets cost from R195 - R350. Bookings can be made at Artscape Dial-a-seat 021 421 7695 or through Computicket. Please note: The event complies with all COVID-19 regulations including social distancing and patrons must wear masks for entry.